May 10, 2022

McAllister Fellowship gives journalism students inside look at Restaurant Dive's award-winning B2B journalism

Last week, I flew to Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism for a rainy spring visit. Over a whirlwind of three days, I presented to seven classes ⁠— from freshman to graduate-level students ⁠— as part of the McAllister Editorial Fellowship I earned through the Jesse H. Neal Awards in 2021. 

What did we talk about? A lot! I discussed the opportunities business-to-business journalism holds for young reporters and editors, and shared how Industry Dive’s support has helped me rise in this field from an associate editor on Food Dive, to an editor that helped launch Restaurant Dive, to a now senior editor. We explored what a “day in the life” of an editor looks like, and how to develop content strategies that make a publication stand out among competitors. 

I also gave students a behind-the-scenes look at how journalistic magic happens, aka, how the Restaurant Dive team created two Neal Award-winning article packages. “Mapping the rise of ghost kitchens,” which won Best Series in 2021, is a six-part package that explores how the pandemic accelerated the growth of delivery-only restaurants and examines the challenges and opportunities that this market holds for operators. It also includes a custom ghost kitchen calculator, which allows restaurants to get a sense of whether this business model could be profitable for them. 

This year, “1 year later: How the pandemic impacted 6 major restaurant cities,” won Best Series. This six-part package digs into how disparate dining room restrictions, masking policies, and support from local governments helped or hurt key restaurant towns by examining restaurant opening, closing and hiring data, as well as foot-traffic patterns and COVID-19 spread over time.

I walked students through the reporting and editing best practices we used to produce these highly valuable, stand-out articles for our niche audience, and shared how they can apply these strategies to their own projects at Medill and beyond. 

It was so fun to ask questions of the rising stars of the journalism world. What careers do they hope to pursue? What values do they seek of their future workplaces? I loved answering their questions in turn. Where do I hope to be in five years? How do you know when a creative risk is worth taking? What does our publication hope to do next? I walked away with some new ideas, too. 

Thank you to Industry Dive, Northwestern University, the Neal Awards and The McAllister family for making this experience possible. It was an honor. And special thanks to Abe Peck, Director of Business to Business Communications and Professor Emeritus in Service at Medill, for crafting such a fun and rewarding visit.


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