10 Questions with The New Republic's Carson Brown
Carson Brown, Guild member and The New Republic’s assistant managing editor, told us she is “wholly uninteresting.” We completely disagree. The recent Northwestern University journalism grad not only has a start to an impressive career, but she’s fluent in sign language and knows how to make a mean manchupe. For those who might not know what that is, it’s a “versatile stew” and the national dish of Cape Verde, where Carson’s mom is from.
We wanted to know more about Carson! Get to know her.
1. What is your role at The New Republic? What does that entail?
I’m the assistant managing editor, so I herd cats most of the day. I do the final proofreads on all print pieces, and I work with editors, fact checkers and writers to get each piece through the rounds of proofs that lead to the published magazine. I’m also charged with getting the digital edition of the publication online and facilitating for the reporter-researchers. When I’m not doing that, I help out with the hiring process for interns, reporter-researchers and copy editors.
2. You were on the organizing committee for The New Republic. Why was it important to unionize there in particular?
We’re always looking to prioritize transparency, a better work flow for the entire office and to fix a bunch of issues between management and the rest of the organization. Health care, harassment and diversity are three of our top issues, and we felt organizing was the best way to collectively achieve those goals.
3. How have you seen your workplace transform as part of the unionizing process?
The communication between departments has increased significantly. Editorial workers now have a better idea of what our colleagues are up to in the DC office and on the business side. We’ve started having weekly informal lunches to chat as a publication, and I definitely feel more invested in TNR, and like I have a stake in the community here.
4. How have you seen the industry shift from your perspective?
I’m still just starting out. I’ve only worked in journalism for a few short years, but I’m particularly curious about how we make magazines sustainable in the modern world. Particularly, I’ve loved the evolution of my media consumption from the radio-based news gathering of my youth to live events and online interactives now.
5. What was the most surprising aspect of our industry for which college didn't prepare you?
How drastically overqualified people are for the increasingly small pool of entry-level positions. You know how it is.
6. Where do you see the journalism industry in five years?
Impossibly smaller, but dedicated to the craft as ever.
7. Where do you go or what do you do to stay on top of digital trends that might affect or influence your work?
I like checking out the work of other publications regarding how they spread their stories and engage with their audience. I’m constantly on the NPROne app, I go to as many pop-up magazine shows as I can, and I spend a lot of time on Twitter watching the clever people in our industry discuss the daily news. I also maintain a handful of print subscriptions.
8. What makes you hopeful for the media industry? What worries you?
I’m short on hope these days. But the more I meet people in New York, the more confident I am that a solution can be reached, and that smart people are taking on the big issues: pay, diversity and sustainability. I’m hoping that we cast a wider net to get more people into the field, which I think will help those three issues.
I’m endlessly concerned by the pattern of ineffective upper management in the industry and a focus (due to management’s direction) not on compelling and important journalism, but on distracting special projects and counter-intuitive branding spectacles.
9. Beyond workplace protections, how else can/have you seen the union effect change in our industry?
It’s been interesting to meet people at publications where I don’t already have connections, to see what they’re up to and the ways they maintain their union. Having all that brain power is useful because of the collection of ideas and strategy available.
10. What is one thing you wish every NewsGuild member knew?
I honestly don’t think there’s anything I know that veterans in the field don’t already. I mostly just want them all to keep teaching us, and to continue supporting young voices trying to make a name for themselves with important reporting and written work. Too many of my peers are working, unsupported, in entry level positions.
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