J/MS alumnus becomes writer on family travel

By Ashley M. Gregory —

Young graduate Maxwell Barna, J/MS 2012, is carving out a real 21st century journalism career, handling social media and web content for The Independent Traveler, Inc., which is a subsidiary property of TripAdvisor, Inc.

Maxwell Barna handles the social media and web content for The Independent Traveler, Inc, which is a subsidiary property of TripAdvisor, Inc. His work for familyvacationcritic.com deals primarily with Facebook and other social media outlets to promote the company. Everything he does is online or involves social media.

Maxwell Barna handles the social media and web content for The Independent Traveler, Inc, which is a subsidiary property of TripAdvisor, Inc. His work for familyvacationcritic.com deals primarily with Facebook and other social media outlets to promote the company. Everything he does is online or involves social media.

TripAdvisor’s 18 popular brands attract nearly 50 million monthly visitors. Among the brands are tripadvisor.com, bookingbuddy.com, cruisecritic.com, and the website for which Barna works, familyvacationcritic.com, which is published by The Independent Traveler.

After having his morning tea in its Pennington offices, Barna will typically visit the company’s website and review its most recent deals. Then, he chooses his favorite deal and shares it on Facebook as the company’s “Deal A Day.” This is followed by two to three relevant and engaging Facebook statuses.

After that, the editorial assistant creates other types of content for web publication mixed in with editing articles submitted by the website’s team of writers.

Everything he does is online or involves social media. Due to the evolution of journalism, jobs have been created that could not exist without the Internet, more specifically social media, Barna noted.

“While these changes may be positively terrifying to some, other, more astute journalists will see them as a road to opportunity,” Barna said.

“Everything is changing, and the methods by which we obtain and report news are being completely re-written,” he added.

In a company whose mission is to create user-generated travel reviews along with unique content from and related to places around the world, Barna has hopes that it will soon be his turn to travel frequently for job-related purposes. He noted that TripAdvisor, Inc., provides each travel writer with benefits and an adequate amount of paid vacation time to do what’s in his or her job description — travel!

He’s particularly excited that his work calls in all the skills he learned both inside and outside of the classroom, from style elements and interviewing skills to the five W’s, which he uses frequently.

“The beautiful thing about trying to get involved in journalism is that you have to be willing to wear many different hats,” Barna said.

Barna pursues his hobby in Muir Woods in California as an amateur photographer. Both photos were provided by  Barna.

Barna pursues his hobby in Muir Woods in California as an amateur photographer. Both photos were provided by Barna.

And while at J/MS, Barna wore his fair share. By the end of his first year of college Barna was published in his first print magazine, an achievement every young writer dreams of. He wasn’t thrilled writing for The Daily Targum and encouraged student journalists to go elsewhere to gain experience. He believes writers should always be paid for their work.

“Take pride in what you do, because if you don’t, no one will,” he said.

Interning and freelancing for a variety of companies such as AOL Patch, Clear Channel Communications, and Your Music Magazine, he composed content for both print and digital publication. The New Jersey native understood hard work would bring him the success he aimed for. With some skills in photography, he knew that he had an advantage over most of his competition.

Seven months after graduation, “this job came along, and after I got there, I felt like I’d won some kind of lottery,” Barna said. He called TripAdvisor, Inc. “one of the best work experiences” he has ever had.

His advice to journalism majors: “Make a name for yourself now, and don’t rely on your degree – the same degree as everyone else in this field – to make your future for you. A J/MS degree is nothing more than a foot in the door these days. Hard work, determination, and talent – these are new media’s keys to success.”