Sep 202011
Authors: Erin Udell

Not many writers can say they’ve worked for four notable publications, founded their own award-winning magazine and survived a turbulent move to New York City without any job offers or prospects. But Brian Janosch, editorial coordinator for The Onion, an award-winning satire news organization, can say he’s done it all — and well before he even turned 26.

So, how did you end up at the Onion?

Janosch: I like to believe I’m the only person in history to have my job lineage. I interned at the American Society of Magazine Editors. I did a summer at Field and Stream (magazine) and sort of parlayed that, and got a job fact checking at Parenting magazine.

So there, I was researching and basically fact checking medical articles about how much sex pregnant women can have. After that, I went to Maxim magazine, which was somewhat fitting. And then I was like the editorial assistant of the website, of From there, there was just a job opening (at the Onion). Nothing too sexy –– I just applied for it and ended up getting hired there.

Q: As editorial coordinator, what are some of your responsibilities?

J: We have a surprisingly small staff. So one thing I do, just because we need hands, is I write for sports and our book. I do a varied amount of writing. My primary responsibility is to help try to carry content over to make an issue and website out of it. So I coordinate our coverage and schedule things out for when they’re going to appear online — all the things that happen between writing something and having it published.

Q: What’s your favorite part about working at the Onion?

J: On any given day, the objective and the goal of our staff is to make each other laugh. It can get very busy, and like any other job, there can be frustrating elements; but at the end of the day, we’re trying to figure out funny things. Whenever I’m having a frustrating day, I like to step back and remember that this is a place where somebody could be talking about clowns on fire.

*Q: What would you say to young writers trying to make it? *

J: It’s almost a cliché now to say print is dying. I mean, to that end, I would say familiarize yourself with the Internet. We are all soon to be controlled by the robots. You’re really doing yourself a lot of harm if you’re not fluent in Twitter and Facebook. That’s the way news is going to be disseminated. More so than just being on it (Twitter), you need to really understand what’s going on. I think everyone needs to be aware of how people are obtaining information because that is what’s really changing.

If you want to be a writer for anything, though, your Twitter feed is not the most important thing. At the end of the day, you should be reading a lot. No amount of technology is going to change the fact that great writers read a lot and write a lot. It really boils down to that.

Q: You moved to New York City a few months out of college and without a job. Any funny stories?

J: Well, I moved to New York right after New Year’s in 2007. I was fortunate enough to stay with some friends. I had some friends who lived in an apartment in Queens, and I stayed in their closet.

They had an oversized utility closet. It had a window, though, so it was a pretty swanky closet. The drawback was that I shared it with their cat’s litter box. So I woke up pretty much every morning to a cat taking a shit. At the end of the day, I had free living, and I have a really nice moving-to-New-York story out of it. About a month in, I was at Parenting, doing fact checking, and got hired at Maxim soon after that. Once that happened, I got my own apartment and let them have their closet back.

 Posted by at 3:01 pm

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