Words by Georgina Lachman
Photography collage by Leanna Pham
Eliot Kaplan, a career coach and former Hearst Magazines editorial recruiter, recently addressed CCNY journalism students in Shepard Hall about the dynamic publishing business. The press event coveredKaplan’s professional life, assessing the industry’s future, and imparting practical advice to budding journalists in the rapidly changing field.
In recent years, the internet has threatened the viability of journalism, sparking heated discussion around its future. As a result, many local newspapers have gone under, while others remain beholden to stockholders to stay afloat. Industry titans, such as Condé Nast, have seen considerable lay-offs as a largely unregulated internet continues to upend once thriving empires.
Addressing a floundering print industry in the digital age, Kaplan emphasized brand cohesion as contingent upon a magazine’s enduring success. The media veteran worked as an award-winning editor for GQ and editor in chief of Philadelphia Magazine prior to his tenure as vice president of talent acquisition at Hearst. “I think the magazines that are going to survive are going to be consistent in all of their mediums,” he told students. “The ones that seamlessly combine their print, their digital, their podcast, their events.”
According to Kaplan, a magazine’s fate may ultimately lie in its coffers. “The ones that have benefactors will survive,” he observed, referring to Laurene Powell Jobs’ recent acquisition of the Atlantic magazine. “They’ve doubled the size of their staff.”
Despite the industry’s changing landscape, new modes of communication offer additional prospects to students hoping to break into the media business. Kaplan, who now offers tactical advice to job seekers through his company, Eliot Kaplan Coaching, painted a bright future for those who have digital skills. “There’s all kinds of opportunities that didn’t exist when I was coming up, or even ten years ago,” he noted. “You’re learning video, you’re learning photography, you’re learning cutting video.”
Although multimedia training can help students adapt to the growing needs of publications, Kaplan believes a firm grasp of the basics will ultimately differentiate them in the workforce. “It’s getting those really good nuts and bolts journalism skills” he said, adding, “That, I think, there’s going to be a premium on.”
While journalism currently faces hurdles, the profession may soon prevail as the proliferation of disinformation creates a greater demand for objectivity. “There’s going to be an increasing focus on good reporting again as we see in the age of fake, fake news,” Kaplan prophesied. “There is a need.”