Mixing Media and Entrepreneurial Management
Steve Snyder, '03 BSB, has amassed an impressive writing profession over the years, tapping into a wide range of interests and talents. From his current position as Assistant Managing Editor at TIME to founding and overseeing the programming at the annual Twin Cities Film Fest, for Snyder, variety is the name of the game.
He's covered political conventions, campaign finance and New York City crime. He's also been to Comic-Con numerous times, interviewed actors and film producers on the slopes of Park City, Utah, and still jets off to cover venues such as South by Southwest and the Tribeca Film Festival, all while vetting movies and planning for the film fest which takes place every October in St. Louis Park.
Most of the film fest fun occurs during his spare time. His day job is second-in-command on the TIME.com digital team in New York City, overseeing all digital editorial content for one of the world's largest news brands. He monitors the news and collaborates with the print team to determine the most advantageous means for TIME to deliver news to its readers.
An odyssey that started with 'A Space Odyssey'
The key to Snyder's success is his keen awareness in accumulating varied skill sets, combined with an eagerness to jump at opportunities when they present themselves. And it all started as a youth with the film, "2001: A Space Odyssey."
"I wanted to be Roger Ebert," Snyder says. "I must have watched 'Space Odyssey' 70 times one summer, and that film got me started reading film critics, and it occurred to me that Ebert wasn't just thumbs up or thumbs down, but he was this Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and commentator. Reading his reviews helped me understand the film differently. So it started very much with the goal of becoming a film critic."
While at the Carlson School, Snyder pursued that interest; first writing film reviews for his county daily back home in Wisconsin and eventually writing for the Minnesota Daily. "I remember my first Daily review, it was "My Dog Skip" of all movies, but seeing it in print in all the stands around the school made me think: Hey, I could do this."
As an entrepreneurial management major, he found similarities between the traits of an entrepreneur and the traits needed to be a successful writer, which only added fuel to his ambitious fire. "You have to have a strong personality, make good pitches, and what I liked about it was creating something that isn't out there, so there's a lot of creativity involved, a lot of writing involved," he says.
Ebert to the rescue
Though all signs pointed to a career in writing, Snyder did take a detour after graduation. Coincidentally, it was Roger Ebert who got him back on course.
"I remember I was in a training session at the company I was working for after graduation and I logged on to read a Roger Ebert film review. I had interviewed the director of this movie, and in Ebert's review he mentioned my article," says Snyder. "So here I was in a job that I didn't love and I just got this major plug from my idol and I think it put it all in stark relief: you are in the wrong job!"
Snyder quickly readjusted, securing a job assisting with NBC television's 2004 Summer Olympics online coverage. That job proved to be an invaluable stepping stone, encouraging him to eventually apply, and enroll in, the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism, where he earned a master's degree in new media in 2006.
Biding his time at TIME
He's technically been at TIME since 2006, holding various titles such as arts producer, podcast engineer, and writer. During that tenure, he's also written for The New York Sun, Time Out New York, The New York Sun and served as a staff features writer at Newsday, one of the nation's largest newspapers.
It was after gaining notoriety at TIME as a tech and culture contributor when things really started to get rolling for Snyder. He eventually segued into overseeing and managing TIME.com's new (at the time) trending new blog NewsFeed. That's when an opening to run the prestigious TIME.com homepage became available.
"They looked around the newsroom and asked who's going to step up to the challenge, and I said, 'I will,'" says Snyder. "I think that is where the entrepreneurship training became essential. I started asking, 'Why don't we have more coverage of this on the homepage?' I started assigning more things, started talking to more people, and running more meetings.
"Especially in writing, you have to bide your time, but when an opportunity presents itself you have to run with it. I can trace that all back to Carlson - my confidence in being able to stand up and seize the opportunity."
For the last four years, Snyder has spent a good portion of the year traveling to film festivals and vetting movies in preparation for the annual Twin Cities Film Fest, a widely-lauded annual St. Louis Park event that he helped bring to fruition. The festival features a solid week of both national and international films, along with a special spotlight on local productions and filmmaking talent.
Since its launch in 2010, the event has grown exponentially, with big sponsors, major visiting talent (this year, movie star Justin Long attended the closing night festivities) and popular red carpet after-parties. Some festival passes have already been sold for the 2013 event, which is tentatively scheduled to kick off Oct. 18.
Snyder, who now resides in New York City, remains open to moving back to the Twin Cities full-time, if an opportunity presents itself; but for now, he's thoroughly enjoying his TIME experience. "On the web you're constantly getting feedback, and I love that. I love being able to have this immediate interaction with readers," he says. "In five years, I either want to be running TIME.com or higher up the leadership at TIME, or maybe running something else. Maybe be number one at a newer, younger site. Or running an upstart digital operation. Who knows?!"
Maybe he should ask Roger Ebert.