by Yasmine Dabash
This is part one of a five-part series for Yasmine Dabash’s Fall 2017 Honors Project. For this project, Dabash interviews five journalists about their journalism careers. Here Dabash interviews Wendy Guild Swearingen, adjunct professor of journalism.
Wendy Guild Swearingen (pronounced SWEAR-ENGINE) is not only one of Hilbert’s adjunct journalism professors but also a well-established journalist currently working as senior editor at Buffalo Spree magazine and as editor of Forever Young magazine. Swearingen grew up in Youngstown, New York, and moved away at seventeen to go to college at SUNY College at Brockport. From there, she went to graduate school at the University of Montana, Missoula, for an MFA in English/creative writing. After graduate school, Swearingen moved to Boston, Massachusetts, where she worked as an editorial assistant and publications coordinator for Harvard Business School Working Knowledge, its online magazine.
Swearingen says she loves being a journalist because she’s “a really nosy person” and she “loves learning about other people’s lives.” However, she believes that one of the hardest parts of being a journalist is starting a story. “Sometimes, just looking at that blank page or blank screen is very daunting,” says Swearingen.
Swearingen cites Forever Young winning six awards at the North American Mature Publisher’s Association Convention in Chicago this September as a high point in her career. Even so, when asked about her favorite project she has ever worked on in her journalism career, she had this to say:
“Before I was even hired at Spree, I was a freelance writer there, and I did a story on Chemical Waste Management, which is a hazardous waste facility in my town, and it’s right behind our school. So, I put a ton of work into that, and I got a lot of feedback. It’s important to the community. People need to know that they planned to build another hazardous landfill next to the existing one, which is, again, a mile behind the school. I’m really proud of that work I did. I interviewed Niagara County Legislator Clyde Burmaster for that story. And I interviewed a man whose son was killed by one of the trucks leaving the facility, so it was a little harrowing and sad, but I felt really proud of that.”
Swearingen’s advice for Hilbert College students looking into going into journalism? “Read, read, read. If you want to be a good writer, you need to read.”
If you have any questions for Professor Wendy Swearingen, her Hilbert email is firstname.lastname@example.org.
To write for the Hilbert Scribe, sign up for COM 443 in spring 2018.