So You Want To Write Long-Form...

Jim Fallows on an opening at the Washington Monthly, or one of the last existing paths for young people looking to practice the craft:

My first "paying" job in the magazine world was there*[The Washington Monthly], and in the long years since I've been a devoted alumnus and reader. (*Charles Peters, the founding entrepreneur/crusader/editor, filed for Chapter 11 protection a day after I signed on -- a contingency he hadn't mentioned in our previous talks. Good preparation for the necessary adaptability of the journalistic life, and still a very fortunate break to have met him, from my point of view.)

Every two years or so the latest team of young staff editors wears out and drops in the traces
has learned everything that Charlie Peters and his successor Paul Glastris have to teach them, and a new team is brought in. At least one such opening is in sight at the Monthly. Details after the jump. This will be a great opportunity for someone. For another time: why I think long-term career prospects are actually bright for people in their 20s or thereabouts just getting into journalism now.

I can't wait to see that post from Jim. But let me endorse his endorsement of that gig. I didn't work at the Monthly, but I freelanced for them regularly in my twenties. I have epic tales of trying to get paid, so that I could put groceries on the table for the fam. But more than that I have epic tales of editors giving me the room to attempt to get better. More than anything, I think, the young kid who is dreaming of writing for the Atlantic, writing for the New Yorker, writing for the New York Review of Books, needs that space to practice and get better. It was critical to any modest success I've experienced  since is owed directly to the Monthly. So I urge you, if you're willing to put in the hours and think you have some talent, to app.


With that said, let me play some identity politics here and put in a special shot-out to my black and brown people. Magazine journalism is probably the whitest subgenre of the field. A lot of us--and I do mean us, as in me--spend our time bemoaning that fact. It's a problem because it takes a particular kind of person to report and write 4-5k decent words. It's not common among any group, color-aside. Looking for it among a specific group of people makes it even harder.

Still, I'm convinced that the talent is out there, and a more significant barrier is connecting the talent with the opportunity. I got to freelance at the Monthly, not directly because I went to Howard, but because I had worked at Washington City Paper and gotten plugged into a different--and frankly much whiter--network. This is my meager effort to pay it forward. If you're a black kid at Howard, Fam, or Tuskeegee, and you think you have it, please apply. If you're brown kid up here at CUNY, Hunter, or down in Texas or out in Cali, and you think you have it, please apply.

The opportunities are few. But we have to compete for them when we see them. Here's the math on one:

Editor/Reporter

The Washington Monthly is seeking applications for an editor/reporter position that will be available soon. A sense of humor and a willingness to work long hours at low pay are required. Knowledge of politics, government and Washington a plus.

As a Monthly editor, you'll be following in the footsteps of many fine journalists who have had the same job, including: James Fallows, Nicholas Lemann, Jonathan Alter, Kate Boo, Matt Cooper, Jon Meacham, Taylor Branch, Amy Sullivan, Timothy Noah, James Bennet, Joshua Green, Michelle Cottle, Gregg Easterbrook, David Ignatius, Nick Confessore, Joe Nocera, Steven Waldman, Jason DeParle and many more.

Candidates should send a cover letter, résumé, and writing samples (not necessarily published, but showing fact-gathering and analytic ability) to:

To apply, please send the requested documents to Charles Homans: chomans at washingtonmonthly.com

Ta-Nehisi Coates is a national correspondent at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle.

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