Former Women’s Wear Daily writer returns to CoJMC to teach

Julie Naughton interviews baseball superstar Derek Jeter at his fragrance launch in NYC in July 2006. (Photo/Courtesy of Julie Naughton)
Julie Naughton interviews baseball superstar Derek Jeter at his fragrance launch in NYC in July 2006. (Photo/Courtesy of Julie Naughton)

by Ellie Mae Benes, senior advertising and public relations major

After a successful 25 years working as a journalist in New York, Julie Naughton decided it was time to return to her alma mater – this time, as a teacher.

“If you would’ve told me when I was taking Reporting I at UNL that I would one day be teaching it, I would’ve called you crazy,” she said.

Naughton graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 1991 with bachelor’s degrees in journalism and English, and says a lot has changed since then.

“It blows my mind,” she explained. “When I took this class, we used typewriters. Google didn’t exist, so we had to go to Love Library to do research. Then, when I started my career, I didn’t even have an email address.”

With two degrees and three summers of internship experience in New York City under her belt, she decided to make the big move to the Big Apple and start her career. She didn’t have a plan, but she knew she wanted to work in magazines.

“New York was the place to make that happen,” she said.

Within a month, she landed a job in journalism and moved into a new apartment in the city.

“I really lucked out," she explained. "I always say, I was either brave or stupid, because I moved there without
having any idea of what I was going to do.”

New York was different from Nebraska, Naughton said, so she didn’t plan on staying there long. That was until she made her way up in the journalism world as a senior beauty editor for one of the most successful fashion and beauty magazines: Women’s Wear Daily.

She worked for WWD for 11 years, interviewing dozens of celebrities—some of her favorites include Cate Blanchett, Sting, Madonna, Derek Jeter, and Bono—and covering big events like Fashion Week. Her favorite part of the job, however, had little to do with its perks and more to do with the people she worked with.

“I was extremely lucky to have a boss that I just hit it off with,” she said, adding that she still
maintains friendships with many of her colleagues.

Naughton makes friends everywhere she goes. Her stories, as well as her kindness, has resonated
with her students since she started teaching last year. Ben Buchnat, a senior journalism major at the CoJMC and one of her first students, said he’s learned a lot from Naughton.

“She is a really great story-teller,” he said. “I was constantly engaged in her class. She genuinely wanted us to become better writers, and to see us succeed outside of the classroom.”

Naughton says her biggest piece of advice for anyone wanting to pursue a career in journalism is a tip that her students are probably tired of hearing:

“Get as much hands-on experience as you possibly can. Write, write, write, and write some more!”