Managing editor encourages students not to work for free
By Veronica Vanderbeek
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Tyler Huckabee always knew he wanted to write. His dream was to be a freelance writer or journalist, but he never imagined he would be a manager.
Huckabee, a communications graduate of Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, found that as you start gaining success in the writing field, you begin getting pulled into editing. This is exactly what happened to him.
He didn’t have any internships in college but wrote for churches and submitted articles to Relevant Magazine. After graduation, Relevant contacted Huckabee and asked him to write more for them. When a senior web editor position opened, Huckabee got it.
Currently, Huckabee works as a managing editor for Relevant Magazine. His days are spent brainstorming story ideas, finding writers and refining work. He might also put together a story outline or schedule interviews with bands and actors.
When asked in a phone interview what his favorite part of his job was, Huckabee said that while getting to meet bands and actors is extremely cool, his favorite thing is giving writers a platform for their talents.
“There are so many writers, and I like giving them a shot because it’s a hard industry out there,” Huckabee said.
Writers not only make up the best part of Huckabee’s job; they also make up the hardest. He knows from experience that writers often are not good with deadlines. “There are writers I really like and value, but deadlines aren’t a huge strength of theirs. We get down to a deadline, and I can’t get ahold of them,” Huckabee said.
Another challenge he found is the industry’s inability to pay writers well. “It’s very difficult for us to find writers and pay them what they’re worth. It’s a really hard challenge that no one has cracked yet.” Online content is given away for free, and print magazine subscriptions are extremely cheap. This doesn’t make a lot of money for the industry. “I hope someone can solve that because writing is really important.”
Huckabee has three tips for journalism students: The first is to stay hungry. Huckabee knows firsthand that in the writing business you will get a lot of rejections, and it will be discouraging. However, he encourages students to keep sending resumes and pitches. “It will pay off.”
The second is not to work for free. Huckabee understands that there are times when you will have to take unpaid internships, but he believes refusing to work for free is a big part of valuing yourself and your work. He says to ask for compensation, whether it’s monetary, exposure or something valuable for your career.
Lastly, he said, “A lot of people can write really well but not a lot can write and follow through with deadlines. That will really set you apart from the crowd.”
Huckabee understands the challenges that a college journalist faces during and after college. He has experienced the job hunt and knows the pressures of attempting to make a living through writing. “I feel like I fell into this accidentally, but I remember the hardships.” Huckabee ultimately encourages students to work hard, persevere and continue to refine themselves.
Some of Huckabee’s work can be read on his blog.