Alumna turns the page at Teen Vogue, shares vision with New York Times

EDITOR
Sac State alumna Elaine Welteroth talks about her first foray into journalism in a New York Times interview.

The teen magazine famous for dishing out fashion and makeover advice is enjoying a historic facelift of its own. Editor-in-Chief Elaine Welteroth ’07 (Communication Studies) is the force behind Teen Vogue’s transformation into a modern voice for an empathetic and engaged generation of readers.

Under Welteroth’s editorial direction, current issues of the magazine include fewer stories on fashion, beauty and style, and more on the progressive politics and social issues that impact and resonate with today’s diverse, digitally connected audience.

In a recent New York Times interview, Welteroth shares thoughts about her first foray into journalism and lauds a Sac State class that she says “changed her life.”

According to the article, the professor promised that any student who could get published in a national magazine would receive an automatic A. Welteroth pitched a story about plus-size footwear to Figure, a magazine for plus-size women, and her pitch was accepted.

Before her last semester of college, Welteroth interned at an international advertising agency, where she reportedly told a fellow intern that she’d rather be working at a magazine and showed him one of her stories from Figure. The other intern questioned whether her articles were real journalism, to which she replied, “I remember staying up for an hour and a half debating this man to the ground, telling him that beauty and fashion journalism is journalism.”

The editor-in-chief followed her heart and passion to become the second African American in Condé Nast’s 108-year publishing history to hold such a title and the youngest in Condé Nast history to become editor.

While content on the magazine’s robust website still includes articles on adolescent angst and celebrity crushes, the first navigation bar now reads “News and Politics,” a nod to Welteroth’s determination to move the needle on what’s considered news for teens.

“I felt like there was an opportunity to go a little deeper and to feature a different type of girl: someone who actually used their platform to be a role model and to be a thought leader. There was something shifting in the zeitgeist,” she told the New York Times. She added, “Teen Vogue has as much right to be at the table, talking about politics, as every young woman does in America right now.”

Welteroth was previously editor at Teen Vogue, which she joined in 2012 as beauty and health director. Before that, she was the senior beauty editor at Glamour, and worked as the beauty and style editor at Ebony magazine. – Anita Fitzhugh

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