Will McGuinness ’10 is a journalist, but not just any journalist – he is an enterprising person. McGuinness is a graduate of UMass Amherst and recently discussed trends in journalism with Steve Fox’s Advanced Multimedia Journalism class. In the discussion, McGuinness touched on jobs, multimedia content produced by news organizations and social media.
This young journalist is no secret to the job industry. Besides contracting himself as a freelance journalist since 2006, he has held seven internships as an undergraduate. Among them, he interned at the Herald News, GateHouse Media, the Daily Hampshire Gazette, The Advocate, the Boston Globe and News Corp.
After graduating college, he experienced a bit of a downturn in work opportunities. By August 2010, he realized he needed a job very badly. So he set a goal of applying to five jobs per day until he found one. “[There are] definitely a lot of jobs out there,” he said. “You may think you’re applying for one job, but it could be another.”
McGuinness is referring to his interaction with the Vice President of the Radio Advertising Bureau, who “threw” his resume around to some contacts in the field. The job McGuinness landed was with a local CBS outlet in Providence, Rhode Island where he served as a Digital Content Producer.
The job required him to post news stories to the website by 1 p.m. and then have a multimedia package ready to go by the 6:30 p.m. newscast, he said. It also required him to help train the “old guard” towards a social media platform, which wasn’t easy considering that when he was a college student, journalists were still tangling in print. “While I was in college, we were still talking about print,” he said. But he did help re-launch the Daily Collegian’s website into a money-making platform for the first time in his time as the Editor-in-Chief
Currently, McGuinness serves as the editor of the Education section of the Huffington Post. He got the job after sending Arianna Huffington a detailed email stating his design changes for the site as well as ways to increase readership through a targeted audience approach. When he walked in to talk to her, he walked out with a job five minutes later.
McGuinness indicated that most news organizations deem multimedia packages such as videos to costly to produce. “The problem is funding [within news organizations,]” he said. “Content in this age is online.”
When he talked about social media guidelines, he talked about his work with GateHouse. With this publication, he built social media around the brand instead of the journalists. “We got a lot of ideas from it,” he said.
He pointed to the Mayor’s “state of the city address,” from which he was able to mine a whole week’s worth of stories and packages through online polling throughout the city. “Traditionally, you use content to create a poll, but with digital content, you use the poll to create content,” he said. “You basically take the newsroom and turn it on its head.”
During his time at GateHouse, he turned the website into a service for the community, citing the traditional role of a newspaper being to serve the public interest. He broadcasted a snow shoveling service with the town’s high school football team to help shovel out citizens in need.
If there is any recent UMass Journalism alumnus who exhibits drive, its Will McGuinness. His closing thoughts pointed us toward success. “Try industries within industries,” he said. “I was a blog writer, a magazine writer, a columnist and an editor during college.”
I guess we should all try on different hats, and even when we take that hat off, save it because you just might wear it again soon.