A Creative Approach to Journalism: Luke Fortney ’18
English major and former editor in chief of the Grape, Luke Fortney ’18 earned a prestigious fellowship at the Atlantic earlier this month after completing multiple rounds of interviews.
What did you focus on during your time at Oberlin?
I majored in English because it felt like one big book club and minored in rhetoric and composition because it felt like one big family. Outside of class (and occasionally during), I wrote feature stories for the Grape magazine. I'll always have a soft spot for my second and third years in Old Barrows, where I learned how to soak beans, bake bread, and plan a meal with complete proteins.
What has your experience at the Atlantic been like so far?
I'm only on my second week, so I feel like I still have the rose-colored glasses on. On the first day of my fellowship, I got to travel to Washington, D.C. and visit the Atlantic’s headquarters. Every other fellow there was from Harvard, Yale, or some other legacy ivy league institution. When I introduced myself as a graduate of Oberlin, everyone had questions. I can't speak for other industries, but everyone in the media world has a lot of respect for our little corner of Northeast Ohio and the people who come out of it.
Do you have any advice for Oberlin students who might be interested in pursuing a similar career path?
When I first got to New York, I didn’t really have any connections but I did have a decent sense of design. (At Oberlin, I quite literally spent hundreds of hours doing layout design for the Grape.) I decided to leverage those skills to make myself stand out. I created a series of cover letters that looked like articles from the websites of the publications I interviewed for. I used the same font, color codes, branding, and everything else I could find, but I threw in my own text. Every time I heard back from a company, they said that they chose to interview me because of my cover letter—including the Atlantic.
In the future, Luke hopes to pursue a career in reporting. After falling in love with the Midwest while at Oberlin, Luke knows that he’ll end up returning to the region to continue his career.