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Introducing the Class of 2020: Claire Bugos

The National Press Club Journalism Institute is spotlighting the next generation of journalists, students who graduated from college or Master’s programs this spring into a challenging job market. We hope they’ll meet future bosses and colleagues here, who will reach out and support them in building journalism’s future together. 

Name: Claire Bugos

School: Northwestern University

Location: Evanston, IL

Student media: Print managing editor, North by Northwestern

Internship: Print editorial intern, Smithsonian Magazine

What have you learned from your involvement with student media on your campus?

Bugos: During my time at Northwestern, I have been actively involved in the student-run magazine and online news source North by Northwestern. This winter, I was the print managing editor for the magazine. In this role, I led more than 22 editors, designers and photographers to create a 72-page print magazine. We introduced NBN’s first ever special section titled “On Environmentalism,” where writers, artists and photographers created pieces exploring the Northwestern community’s relationship to the natural world in a 10-page spread. 

Though I’ve held many positions at NBN, from online photo editor to magazine features editor, my time as PME was the most rewarding. I was challenged to make important editorial decisions, lead a group of my peers (some of whom were new to the publication), marry my editorial vision with the creative director’s artistic vision, fundraise more than $3,000 to cover printing costs, troubleshoot last-minute issues with the printer, and much more in 10 short weeks. Each magazine and web staff team I worked with at NBN taught me to be a thoughtful, inclusive, collaborative and diligent journalist and person. 

What have you learned from your internship experience(s)?

Bugos: My most formative internship experience was at Smithsonian Magazine this fall. In my position as print editorial intern, I worked with both the digital and magazine teams to learn about how to research and write content for both platforms. For the magazine, I researched and fact-checked a dozen pieces, attended editorial meetings and learned from the senior editors. For the digital team, I wrote, reported and aggregated stories, edited some pieces for publication, participated in business and web strategy meetings, and more. 

This experience strengthened my understanding of how a professional newsroom can effectively operate, how to be edited, how to pitch and write engaging stories, the importance of research and fact-checking, and how to write for the specific tone of a publication. My editors allowed me to write on myriad topics, from the history of Thanksgiving to the evolution of whales. More than anything, this opportunity helped me better understand the magazine industry and increased my desire to continue reporting and writing.

What’s been your best moment in journalism?

Bugos: During my internship at Smithsonian Magazine, a colleague and I were given press passes to attend the National Portrait Gallery Gala. There, I interviewed Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeff Bezos, Frances Arnold, Amy Sherald and Earth, Wind & Fire. It was absolutely incredible to speak to these and other awardees and attendees about their work. I quickly learned, however, that just because some honored guests were happy to chat during the media hour, the cocktail hour was a whole different beast. For perhaps 20 minutes, I attempted to breach a circle of guests which included Anna Wintour, James Corden and Annie Leibovitz. My mission was terribly unsuccessful. But in a last-ditch effort to get in another word with one of the many accomplished women at the event, I tapped Gayle King on the shoulder and nervously posed a soft-ball question. Before I knew it, she was holding my hand singing “Clair” by Gilbert O’Sullivan and asking me about my own life and work. Her warmth in what was a very exciting but overwhelming setting reminded me that the most effective journalists are skilled at making strangers like me feel comfortable and heard.

What’s the wackiest story you’ve worked on? 

Bugos: One of my favorite stories is the one I wrote about the last geography professor at Northwestern. For weeks, I spent time hanging out in his office and classroom, chatting about his interests and pouring through old maps together. Now in his 53rd year of teaching, Hudson has been at the university longer than any other professor. In that time, he fought for the survival of the geography department and has been the sole professor for years. 

He still works with an antiquated, boxy Dell computer and writes lecture notes on a blackboard with chalk. He knows the names of every one of his students and grades each their papers by hand. His eyes light up when asked about historical changes in the Iowan corn industry. Though he has been teaching an economic geography course for decades, he still writes out each lecture the night before. 

Hudson is among the quirkiest and kindest subjects I’ve had the opportunity to profile, and it was a joy to try and bring his essence to life on the page. 

What do you want potential employers to know about you?

Bugos: I consider myself to be a bit of a generalist and learn quickly. I’m recently very interested in health and science writing and am hoping to explore that beat more. Though my ultimate goal is to become a magazine writer, I am currently trying to expand my journalistic skills in reporting, design, social media, photography, too.

When you aren’t practicing journalism, how do you spend your time?

Bugos: I love to cook (often inspired by an unhealthy attachment to Bon Appetit test kitchen videos). At home in California, I spend lots of time backpacking and running through county and state parks. Otherwise, I paint with watercolors and oils, support local social justice organizations, watch Parks & Rec re-runs and de-stress at my local boxing gym.

If you’re a recent graduate who studied journalism, or know one, we’re accepting information here for members of the Class of 2020 to feature in the future. If you’re a supporter, you can contribute here to scholarships for journalism students


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