Alita Byrd

You are the editor of FM Campus, how did it all happen?
I have worked for magazines in the US, UK, Ireland and Belgium. I love magazines, and when this job came up, I jumped at the opportunity. FM Campus is a really exciting publication, and it’s great to have so much freedom to create a new magazine, while working for a long-established brand.

What does your job entail?
My primary responsibility is the editorial of FM Campus. That means planning what goes into each week’s issue, and liaising with writers, sub-editors, production, photographers and designers. I research and write stories, interview people, edit copy and sit in meetings. It’s a little bit of everything, really, which is just the way I like it. And then there is marketing, promotions, advertising and circulation. I speak to lecturers and students on a daily basis, and look at coordinating the project as a whole.

What’s a standard day like at the office?
A weekly publication is hectic! Nothing like the monthlies I am used to. We have deadlines every day, in order to make sure the magazine is ready for the press every Wednesday. Usually there is no time for lunch (FirstStep Note: FirstStep team faints! No Time For Lunch! We take our meals very seriously here!), and a constant pile of things that require urgent attention.
Did you always want to be a journalist?
When I was choosing what degree I wanted to study for, I knew I wanted to study English literature, like my mother. But the university I attended encouraged us to pick two majors, and journalism looked the most interesting. From the first class I took, I knew that’s what I wanted to do. Journalism is fabulous because you learn new things every day. You have access to people you’d never be able to talk to otherwise. You get to ask lots of questions, and become something of an expert on a whole wide range of very diverse topics. Who else can get so much variety in their career? (FirstStep says: Well put!)
What future plans lie ahead?
My dream job was to be editor of a magazine. I’ve made it!
Quick questions:
Best part of your job?
Holding the magazine in my hands when it rolls off the press every Thursday.
Worst part of your job?
Dealing with (a few) incompetent people who don’t know how to do their jobs.
Funniest moment in your career?
Where do I begin?
Highlighted moment in your career?
Sitting next to Reserve Bank Governor Tito Mboweni on the platform before giving a speech to University of Pretoria students was pretty cool.
What would you be doing if you weren’t the FM Campus Editor?
If I had loads of cash, I’d be a travel writer, and visit everywhere, and write just two or three big pieces every year.
Your message for young South Africans:
Everyone is watching you, and pulling for you. The rest of us desperately want you to succeed. And you can be anything you want to be if you work hard and look for the opportunities available to you. You are the future.