By Cheyenne Rowe
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Brian Clark Howard, a National Geographic editor and writer, had always been attracted to science, but he never knew it would become such a large part of the stories he would tell later in his life.
Following the love he had for environmental and world issues, Howard graduated from the University of Indiana in Bloomington with degrees in geology and biology. But it was an internship at E-The Environmental Magazine that sparked his love for environmental journalism. He became managing editor of the magazine in 2001.
“I think that definitely the internship that I took was a turning point,” Howard, 37, said in a phone interview. “I was not sure how much I would like it, but I actually had a really good time. It was a lot of fun. That’s how I decided ‘Oh, I could actually make a career out of this.’ I never really knew exactly what I was going to do growing up. I was always attracted to science, but I hadn’t thought of this path.”
Howard received a graduate degree in 2007 from Columbia University School of Journalism in New York.
He has worked as a social media consultant, author and web editor at The Daily Green, another environmental Web magazine. In 2011, he joined National Geographic, where he has worked as a writer, editor and producer for the environmental news portion of National Geographic magazine.
“I do quite a bit of writing now,” said Howard, who lives in Washington D.C. and grew up in Indiana. “For a while I was doing a lot more editing.”
Howard’s days are packed full. He writes, attends about two meetings a day and keeps a running tab on National Geographic's Twitter account, @NatGeoMag. He also edits content on Snapchat.
Even with all the work, Howard said he enjoys his job because he learns something different every day, talks to interesting people and sees interesting things.
Working for National Geographic, Howard gets a special combination of the journalistic world every time he comes to work. The news judgment decisions he and the staff face tie in with immediacy and the demand for accuracy.
Because of the nature of the publication, writers and editors at National Geographic are more focused on deciding if “people are going to gain a lot from a whole new story on something,” he said. National Geographic usually operates more by adding to a story then they do by breaking the news to people themselves.
“That’s one of the things we look at,” he said. “Can we add to the conversation? Can we say something that’s meaningful?”
Something that is very important to Howard and National Geographic is the need for accuracy.
National Geographic is a scientific magazine, especially where Howard is concerned in environmental writing, and the audience it reaches is one of professionals, well-educated adults and “people who are interested about the world.”
Inaccurate information could damage the reputation of the magazine and its brand, he said.
The advice Howard had for aspiring editors or journalists was simple: Keep doing exactly what you want to do.
“If you’re an aspiring writer, write as much as possible. If you’re an aspiring science writer, write as much science as possible. If you’re a photographer, take as many pictures as you can,” Howard said.. “Just keep doing the work and getting it out there.
“Keep doing the work you want to do, because the less you do it the harder it is to do it.”
A note about the content: This site showcases the final projects of University of Nebraska-Lincoln editing students. Each semester, students pick a journalist or communications professional to profile. This is their work.
This is me. I run this site.