Gatepost Interview: Dan Magazu, director of communications media contact for FSU
By Phil McMullin
Can you briefly describe your resume and educational background?
I went to the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, and I got a bachelor’s degree in journalism with a minor in political science. After that, I was a journalist for four years – first up in Manchester, New Hampshire for a small daily newspaper called The Manchester Daily Express. It was a start-up paper that no longer exists, unfortunately. Then I worked for the Sentinel & Enterprise in the Leominster-Fitchburg area for a couple of years before I came here.
Can you describe your role at Framingham State University?
I’m the Associate Director of Communications, so in that role, I’m the primary PR person. I handle all media inquiries. I do a lot of writing for the university. So, I write stories for the website. I do the alumni magazine – I write most of the content for that. I also do some of our social media, and I do other publications: The President’s Report, Campus Currents which is an internal e-newsletter that we send around on campus, so things like that. But, that’s primarily my responsibility, mostly media-relations is the big one.
Are you working on any projects?
Right now, I’m working on the spring, 2015 alumni magazine, which is going to be focused on the comprehensive fund-raising campaign. So, the magazines are big projects. They’re each about thirty pages, and it’s a lot of work that goes into them.
When will those be out?
The spring magazine will hit campus probably around early April.
Do you have any hobbies?
I’m a huge sports fan, so I follow all the local teams – the Patriots, the Bruins, the Red Sox and the Celtics. So, I’m big into watching sports. I also enjoy reading. That’s pretty much it.
What are your favorite books?
I’m a big fan of Matt Taibbi, who we actually had on campus the other week. I enjoyed his book, The Divide, as well as his book, The Great Derangement. I just read Scribe by Bob Ryan, which is about his career as a sports journalist. So, those are some books that I like, that I read recently.
Can you tell me about one of your biggest accomplishments?
I would say, I think, just my ability to transition into this position is one of my biggest accomplishments. I started as a journalist, and that’s what my formal education and background is in, but it’s not uncommon for a lot of journalists to become PR folks – you’re sort of on the other end. Instead of asking the questions, you’re answering them, and I’m really proud of the fact that I’ve been able to do that – I hope – successfully here, and sort of do a pretty good job with that in my role here.
What was your best undergraduate experience?
One of my best undergraduate experiences was doing an internship at the Worcester Telegram & Gazette that I did while I was at UMass. It was a fabulous experience – getting out, and getting a chance to really hone your craft, and be able to apply the things you’re learning in the classroom to a professional experience. When I talk to students on campus, one thing I’m always recommending to them is to get involved with an internship, because they really are critical experiences, and they really do help you out – particularly when you start looking for jobs and that sort of thing – to have that on your resume as a booster. So, I would say that was one of my most positive undergraduate experiences.
What class do you think every student should take before they graduate?
I think everyone should take a writing class. I think a lot of folks struggle with writing. Even if you just take an introductory writing class, it’s a really important skill to have – especially when you’re looking at writing resumes, cover letters – I think it’s something that could apply to almost every job. So if writing something is more of a challenge for you, I think taking a writing class could be really beneficial to all students.
What was your favorite course in college, and why?
I really enjoyed a course I took on U.S. history as it relates to politics. I’m fascinated by politics, and I was a minor in political science, so I really enjoyed learning about the political history of the United States, which is really interesting. Aside from that, I’d say my more practical journalism courses, where you got to go out and just cover stories that were happening on campus, that sort of thing – so, I’d say those two courses were my favorites.
Did you ever cover any big news stories?
When I was in Manchester, I was working for a start-up paper, and I was the politics reporter, and this was in 2006. Students might be surprised to see that I covered Barack Obama’s @rst visit to Manchester, New Hampshire, which was this crazy big event that sort of announced that he was going to be running for president. When you go to visit New Hampshire, that’s basically like saying, “All right, I’m running for president,” because that’s the primary. You’ve got to win the primary there to have a good shot. So, that was an incredible experience – just being able to see all the presidential candidates come through. I got to meet a few of them. If I didn’t meet them, I at least attended events that they were at. So, that was a really fascinating experience. I was lucky to be working at a paper that was just a start-up, because I had almost no experience, but they were working on such a limited budget that they had to use entry-level folks. So, it was a really unique opportunity, and I definitely appreciate having it.
What advice would you give to students?
I guess I would say just get involved on campus. You know, you’re only here for four, five years, or however many, and there’s so many things going on on campus – whether it’s cultural events, student clubs, you know? Some of my best experiences when I was in college were just meeting folks through different clubs whether it’s intramural sports, or a student club in your area of interest. I’d say just try to get involved. Make it more than just going to class. Try to do some things outside of class that either enhance what you’re learning, or just help you get to know folks.