The New York Times Invites College Students to Share Their Voices
By Khadejah Stegall
Khadejah is a part of the TLC College Ambassador Program and attends North Carolina A&T University.
Traditional news coverage wasn’t always an option for students to voice their opinion and spark important conversations about social issues. We’ve seen activists such as Yara Shahidi leverage social media to advocate for social justice and human rights. The New York Times has been listening and wants to invite young voices to tell a collection of stories. The New York Times is looking for writers to be contributors for The Edit, a New York Times newsletter for students and people starting their careers. We talked to Lindsey Underwood, the editor of The Edit to gain insight on what they are looking for in writers and their inspiration behind inviting college students and young professionals to be a part of a large publishing platform.
Q: Can you tell our readers a little bit about your background in writing and your time at The New York Times?
A: I became interested in journalism during high school, so I joined our school newspaper. After that, I studied journalism at the University of Missouri. I applied to so, so many journalism jobs across the country when I was graduating but didn’t get much traction. It was a tough time for the economy, and competition for entry-level roles was high. I ended up taking a marketing job in DC and soon after moved into a writing position at the same company. A few years later, I managed a website at a think tank and helped them to develop their social media strategy.
One day on Twitter, I saw that Slate was hiring a deputy social media editor, so I applied. I knew someone working there at the time, which I’m sure helped me to stand out. Getting that job was my big break of sorts. It was a risky move because I had to take a pay cut and give up a salaried role for a contract position. I loved Slate, and I felt like opportunities like that didn’t come very often, so despite concern from my parents, I took the job and moved to New York City. I worked at Slate for a couple of years before moving to The New York Times, Vogue and now, back at The Times.
Q: What was the inspiration for starting The Edit, and targeting young professionals/college students for future contributors?
A: The Edit is a newsletter that launched a couple years ago for college students and recent graduates. It has been a curated list of stories from The Times that might be of interest to students. We heard feedback from students that they really wanted to see more of their voices in the newsletter. In the coming months we’ll relaunch the newsletter, and hope to provide a platform for more of their ideas and perspectives.
Q: There were a lot of good questions asked for the application process. One being something you can't stop talking about and the best thing you've read this week. What was your favorite question that received the most diverse responses?
A: It’s been really fun to see how people interpreted the questions and what they chose to write about. One question asked about something they are obsessed with. A lot of applicants wrote about issues in the news, like sexual harassment and gun control. Others wrote about lighter topics like why they love Beyonce, or burritos.
Q: I'm sure you and your team were expecting an influx of applications but were 20,000 applications in the plan? What was your reaction?
A: We definitely did not expect to get 20,000 applications. The job posting went viral soon after it went up, and we realized quickly that this was bigger than what we anticipated. That enthusiasm has been really great to see. I think it shows how necessary opportunities like this are for students and people starting their careers.
Q: How did your team tackle managing the applications to ensure no promising contributors were overlooked?
A: We’re still in the process of reading through each application. As it turns out, it takes a long time to read 20,000 applications! We have a team from around the newsroom helping to look through all of them.
Q: Will there be other opportunities for applicants who aren't chosen? If so, what can they do know to increase their chances of becoming a contributor next time?
A: Yes, we’re hoping to provide other opportunities to stay involved. I don’t have any news on that front at the moment, but the best way to find out about those would be to subscribe to the newsletter.
Q: What are some of the experiences and qualities you are looking for in an applicant?
A: Mostly I’m looking for people with good ideas. We want to make a newsletter that college students and recent grads are interested in reading. Applicants who can help us identify the issues and perspectives that their peers care about the most have a good chance of standing out.
Q: What kind of stories can we look forward to the contributors telling?
A: I’m excited to tackle a variety of topics in The Edit. There’s room for covering things in the news, but also things the contributors are obsessed with.
To sign up for The Edit, please visit here.
Khadejah Stegall is a college mommy blogger that inspires others to achieve the impossible through the power of Jesus. She enjoys family time, eating vegan meals when it's convenient and mentoring others on professional development. To be inspired by more post, follow her blog at khadejahstegall.com