The path from gloss to neuroscience: a thematic podcast about a career in media and content marketing

    This is a podcast with those who write, edit, shoot photos, videos and manage content creation. Today we have prepared for you a text version of the eighth edition.

    His guest, Olga Sevastyanova, is a journalist and neuroblogger.

    In the photo: Olga Sevastyanova and Alina Testova ( )

    alinatestova : Since we are talking today about editorial and journalism, please tell us about your career: how did it start and what is happening now.

    Olga: I am a journalist since I was fourteen. Started with the district newspaper of the Northern District. I think, like so many people who entered the Moscow State University or other universities. I worked in newspapers, but while I was a student, unfortunately, I could not get anywhere. I looked with envy at the girls who already worked in the magazine Yes! or in cosmopolitan. Cosmopolitan was my dream then, from about fourteen.

    When I studied at the master's program of the Higher School of Economics, I met a girl who worked in a business magazine about fashion and the shoe industry. I was taken there as an editor, and six months later I became the chief editor of the magazine.

    It was a B2B edition about the shoe market in Russia, and for me it was a super class experience. The magazine had a very large amount of work, and the company had very little money, and in this situation you have to do almost the entire magazine yourself. I was a chief editor with one author and one editor. So I was the boss, but it prepared me for Cosmo, in which I two years later dared to write and offer myself as an author.

    I was really taken, and I wrote several articles. When the vacancy of the editor opened, I submitted my resume. That experience, when you alone create a magazine on eighty pages, in Cosmopolitan helped me a lot. It happened that in the thick rooms one editor rents fifty pages on his own. This is very, very much, but I coped and worked for three and a half years in the printed version of Cosmo. I left literally in January 2018.

    Now I work in Yandex.Dzene more like a person who understands the content: as a journalist and a media person, he can say what content he has, and communicate with the authors.

    A: It seems to me that for a non-professional, for a person who is not immersed in gloss, it seems that magazines like Cosmopolitan are an easy genre. A person who has not worked in this area is not very clear. Tell, please, about what, maybe, people who did not see this working party of glossy magazines don’t know?

    A : Very good question, thanks for asking it. Indeed, there are a lot of myths around the gloss: that the editors do not do anything special, go to presentations and buffets and give one or two notes, like Carrie Bredshow, and get some crazy thousands of dollars for it in order to buy Jimmy Choo shoes. Not really.

    Salaries in gloss are very far from ideas about very large earnings, even by Moscow standards. The amount of work is very large. As an editor, you not only write the texts yourself, but you are actually the manager of the strip that you have in this issue. You need to coordinate it with the designers, you need to make sure that the text in the layout is well laid and nothing crawls anywhere, so that everything is signed. And this is a very hard work.

    Plus there is a big difference, as it seems to me, between the print media, whatever type they are, universal, for women or not, and online media. Online is happening faster, and you just do not have time for the text worked. The seal is still holding.

    In Cosmopolitan, I worked with the chief editor, Polina Sorenova. She was brought up on excellent American journalism in the style of The New Yorker, when you write not just a column from your head, but mention scientific studies, quotes experts. These are really high-quality, deeply developed texts. We worked that way.

    For me it was a great school of searching for textures and information that justifies, in principle, the existence of another text. Our info-field is so loaded that you simply can’t give a value to the reader. Of course, you can, if your goal is to cut down traffic for a short time, but if you want a loyal audience, you have to give the reader something more than just another set of letters.

    A: Please tell me: considering these nuances of work, it turns out that even in such a seemingly easy profession of a journalist you need not only to understand the topic, to be able to write well and have fun thinking thoughts. It is necessary to analyze the sources, look for proofs (and these are quite weighty) and at the same time have a “use” from the point of view of how the text looks in print and how it will look on the page.

    This is not entirely obvious to a person who did not work in print and does not represent it; you can make the column ten or twenty words more, but then they will have to be removed, because they will come out with a long and ugly "tail."

    A: In different editions, in fact, the process is structured differently. In some, you, as an editor, write the text, put it in your daddy and forget about it. In others, as in Condé Nast [Vogue, GQ, Glamor, AD, Tatler] and in Cosmopolitan in Polina, the process was changed. The editor is responsible for the text in and out, and we did not have a specialist who after you cut the text on the page. When you wrote, you knew that it would have to be cut with your own hands.

    And one of the most painful moments that coaches you very well at the same time is to write exactly as much as you have to say. Not to engage in self-admiration or wordplay, which is not always appropriate and useful to the reader, but to give information in the form in which it can be “absorbed” easily and concisely.

    A: Great. I was immediately born another uncomfortable question. This is about how [in Cosmopolitan] relate to editorial cliches. I am in the online versions of glossy publications I see a lot of such expressions that wander from the 90s from magazine to magazine and from one web page to another. Somehow you fought them?

    Did you have any list of stop words?

    A: Yes, we had a kind of list of stop words, but they were subjective. The editor-in-chief does not like the word “after all”. The deputy editor doesn’t like the word "special." The issuing editor does not like it when the sentence begins or [it uses] the design “Love is when ...”. Above you are a few people who read your texts, and you memorize it and do not write like that.

    Of course, this is a convention. Each edition has its own language norms. We at Cosmopolitan had a certain style of communication with readers. It is light, humorous, but at the same time it should be clear that there is a woman with intelligence behind the text. Cosmopolitan motto: "Fun fearless female". And it must be broadcast in the text.

    The first part of your question about the cliché caught me right emotionally. I thought about it a lot and I think so far. Why do we continue to write as we write? It is clear that all these gaming established headlines have long been, ten thousand times all used. All these sayings are uninteresting.

    Most often the author, if he is good, writes this reluctantly. When I write this, I do it to spend less time. I can, of course, work on the text for a very long time, but this is allowed only for freelance authors who have the opportunity to write two or even four weeks. In one number - one text.

    When you are an editor in the publication and write yourself, you simply do not have time. You have a maximum of four to eight working hours per text. This is in print, and in the network - you need even faster. They have standards, for example, two Longrid four thousand characters each and a few news: from five to eight, depending on the edition.

    A: Is it during the day?

    A: Yes. That is why I would never want to work in the online edition, although at the beginning of my career I worked in the women's online edition. This is a completely crazy pace, and you just do not have time to write yourself thoughtfully. Work simply becomes the production of content that is needed today in our media space. But the word is exactly that - you produce content. You do not create and do not create. This, of course, is a compromise with his conscience.

    A: It turns out that even in a print edition for eight hours, it’s not just to write the text, but to even imagine how it will be folded up, to approve all this and prepare its final version. This is very hard work.

    A: Yes, very tense, frantic pace. You know, when I work in Yandex now, and we have a plan - not a surrender of the number, I already forgot what to hand over the number every three weeks.

    In Zen you have plans for a quarter, you must produce a result during this time. So calmer. And personally, I somehow like it more.

    At least I remembered that I could not come to work at the January holidays, and even take a few days of vacation until the new year.

    And we do not need to pass the March number.

    A: This means that if suddenly someone wants to write in gloss, then be ready. Please tell us about your current job. What are you interested in writing now? What content are you interested in creating, not “producing”? And what is your agenda now?

    A: It was with great pleasure for me that I found myself engaged in the study of neuroscience. “Learning” is a very big word. I touch neuroscience and try to dive into them. I have always been interested in psychology and thinking: how we think and make decisions; why these solutions, and not others. In Cosmo, I had a heading "Psychology and Relationships", there I was withdrawing my soul, and now I can go even further into the details.

    For Tinkoff Magazine, I proposed a series of video programs about the brain and how we make decisions . Of course, all this is in the context of our consumer behavior or how and what influences it. For me, this is a new milestone in development.

    I hope that I will gradually become a scientific journalist, "when I become very large." Here you can’t just mention something, you just need to provide a link to the study, check if there were any refutations for it and so on. In general, you need to very carefully handle the facts, and this is such a level up for me as a journalist.

    A: We recently, in our IT-edition, had a dispute: how to write about what you like . Very often there is a problem of chicken and eggs. Someone, like the guys from the School of Editors, sometimes says that he writes only about this and this, and the rest - do not even try. "I am writing only about these things, I like them, nothing more than anything else." I personally adhere to the theory that as soon as you gain some level of professionalism in a certain area and you begin to understand it more deeply, you start to like to write about it and dive into it further.

    I understand that this is such a biased question, because I have already outlined my position, but nonetheless: what kind of field do you like more or are you somewhere in the middle? From the series: “I understood in advance what I like to write about, I understand only this, then I go further into the depths” or “I look what the request is, I dig in this direction, I go deep, then I start to get high from the process”.

    A: Probably not the second option. I do not like to write on request, that is, I can not become interested just because it is interesting to most people.

    You know, there are such people-entrepreneurs. They, in principle, do not care what to sell: hats with earflaps, mittens, gingerbread or tomorrow it will be some kind of glowing things. And here people simply rush the process itself: they find a niche and go there to satisfy the request of the majority. This is a special personality, I do not belong to him, although I look with admiration at how people can put their enthusiasm on the development of something that had never occurred to them before.

    Unfortunately or fortunately, I can not write about what I do not like. At the same time, I am still a human scanner: I cannot do the same thing for a long time. It is in my hobbies manifested. There is no such thing that I chose some kind of dance, and for five years, until I reach the championship, I practice it. My interest lasts for the seasons, and then I switch.

    It seems to me that it is the same with journalism and with areas of interest in it, although everything is more or less stable here. I started with some cognitive-oriented texts. Now I understand this, although at the age of 14, of course, I did not understand, but it was interesting for me to deal with it.

    For me, journalism has become a profession in which there is no such thing that today it has suddenly ceased to be interesting to me, and I can not write about it. Here, the attitude to writing, as to some pleasant routine that you get, and mastery is honed by the fact that you have been hitting this point for a long time and often.

    A: But, nevertheless, you are able to shift this topic onto different rails and look at it from different sides, taking into account the tasks of a particular publication. For example, as in a case with Tinkoff Magazine, when here, too, about the brain, but about money, not relationships.

    It turns out that all the same flexibility in the views on the problem is important not only to remain relevant, but also to be interesting to a potential employer or a person who is doing a joint project with you.

    A: Definitely so. It seems to me that the greater challenge is that flexibility is not in the ability to look at the format in a different way, but in the style of presentation. For Cosmo, I write columns in one language, for Tinkoff Magazine - to others and adjust to their info style and standards, and for my own instagram - even more boldly. If I once for National Geographic want to write a column about neuro research, then this will be a different approach to editing. It's complicated.

    I worked with many authors as an editor and I see that, for example, a person can write cool on his Facebook, but for some reason he falls into a stupor when he needs to write something for a print edition. He gets some stationery of the abstract. Or he just can not adjust to the format. You need to be able to mimic, not beat your chest and say: "I am the author, and this is my artistic style." Sometimes this is required by the format.

    A: In this regard, considering that you work with authors, and you see different people and different texts: do you have your life hacks about editorial and author work? How to make it so as not to step over yourself, but to catch that unique publication style that is needed for your text to be accepted and published?

    A: If we give advice to authors and all writing people, not editors, who are confronted with the texts of other people (although this is also a big task for the editor): you need to treat the text not as a work of art, which, of course, is difficult.

    If you write to order, you are more likely a tool in the hands of the customer. He takes your brain and the ability to put words into sentences for rent. Sometimes, of course, you are a cool columnist with an interesting style, and they buy you exactly for him. "Buy" - this is, I say conditionally, that is, willing to pay fees. In other cases, most journalists or people who write texts just know how to do it well, and the customer buys it. It is good to write about something in the format that you need, with the thoughts you need.

    Often, if these are any special projects or a native text (where there is much more money), the advertiser pays for the text in order to place it in some edition. With this, I also came across and face. Here you need to clearly understand who you are. This is your temporary role, you do not sell yourself, your soul or style to the devil.

    For the author's style, you have instagram, facebook or, like me, a channel in Zen, where I can write as I want . In other cases, I have to adjust. This is normal.

    A: That is, an understanding of the social role that you are currently playing ...

    Oh:Yes, you change it. You have the freedom to change this social role and not to work with these publications, if their format or approach to the author's work does not suit you. I have this attitude. There is, of course, an absolutely polar point of view, which is truth, and you must defend it to the end. If they came to you and ordered the text, you must absolutely bend your line and not let the customer bend you.

    But then the question arises: why do this? The customer will still order this text from someone else. You can do it as well as possible to maintain the actual truth and accuracy, but at the same time fulfill the requests of anyone. This is such an eternal compromise between journalistic ethics, when you don’t tell lies that are exactly important and necessary, but at the same time make everyone happy.

    A: It seems to me that this is excellent advice. For many who start writing or working as an editor, this dilemma arises: “Where is the truth? And where is my author's style, and how can I observe it? ”And at the same time working with someone, and not writing in the table.

    A: Here everyone makes the choice himself, because I have said only my opinion based on my experience, and I am not ready to impose it on everyone as the ultimate truth. But as an editor from the inside and as an author, who is called, and continue to call, and want me to write, I understand that this approach is advantageous.

    A: Great. And finally, my super-short blitz of two questions.

    A: The text begins with ... A

    : From any moment that captures you most and causes enthusiasm.

    A: The most important thing in editorial work is ... A

    : I am stuck, because the most important is hard to find. We must be able to systematize information, find it, check it, and present it so that the reader does not bleed from the eyes.

    A: Great!

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