On Tuesday, Nov.18, the Honors Center at SUNY New Paltz hosted, “A Conversation with Vogue writer and editor Jonathan Van Meter.” Van Meter is a writer and chief editor for Vogue Magazine and has had several articles published in the New York Times Magazine, Esquire and Vanity Fair. Most of his work done for Vogue includes profiles on celebrity women, such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Lady Gaga and most recently, Amy Adams.
Van Meter kicked off the event giving a brief background of himself and how he got his start in the field of writing and journalism. Starting out as an intern at a local newspaper in Atlantic City, he moved to New York where he became an editor of 7 Days, a magazine owned by Leonard A. Stern. After the fall of 7 Days, Van Meter says his success came overnight as editors from Vogue and other highly acclaimed magazines wanted him on their team. In the end, he chose Vogue and worked for them for a short while.
After a short stint as contributing editor of the now defunct Vibe magazine, he returned to Vogue where he currently still works, writing six to eight feature articles a year. He has also published his own book, “The Last Good Time,” and is currently in the works of writing and publishing a memoir.
The lecture event quickly became discussion-based when attendees had the chance to ask Van Meter questions about his life, job and how he got to where he is. He gave advice to people in attendance to not give up and recalled his own rejections. He gave the audience tips, such as to “pick something and be an expert at it, even if you are not an expert, pretend to be.”
When asked about what he believes the future of print publication looks like he said he is more optimistic now as print publication is beginning to stabilize. While print publication will not last forever, Van Meter said he believes magazines will be around for a while longer.
SUNY New Paltz assistant professor in the Digital Media and Journalism Department, Lisa Phillips, was responsible for getting Van Meter to campus.
“I was thrilled,” she said. “More than 30 students showed up specifically and they asked good questions. We were going [with questions] for an hour and a half.”
Questions regarded controversial and ethical issues in the editorial world. He addressed these concerns by saying one should not publish something they do not feel right about. He gave an example of a story he wrote on actress Julie Andrews; a personal story was told during an on-the-record interview that was asked not to be used the next day. After struggling with the decision of whether or not to use the story in question, Van Meter ultimately decided not to print it as he did not feel right about it. This example showed the audience that while something may be on-the-record, personal decisions must be made as to what is used or not to make the subject look good and make them feel comfortable, all while keeping credibility.
Third-year communications and journalism major, Hannah Linder said the lecture put her at ease.
“I learned it doesn’t get easier, it gets better,” she said. “It takes time but it will get better.”
Anne Jacobs, a fourth-year media programming and management student said she learned a lot from the talk.
“I enjoyed learning about the employment side and structure and also moving up, as well as what written journalism is about,” she said.