Professor coaches students on the realities of magazine writing

Professor Hann chats with a journalism student. Photo by Nicole Reeves
Professor Hann chats with a journalism student. Photo by Nicole Reeves

By Nicole Reeves

If J/MS students in Professor Christopher Hann’s Magazine Writing class have any aspirations of making it as a professional writer, they have come to the right place to learn.

Hann, who has had an impressive career as a news reporter, freelance writer and editor, has been sharing his expert knowledge with J/MS students since the summer of 2006, when he first started teaching Magazine Writing. Hann is also a professor of News Reporting and Writing, although this is the first time he is teaching both classes in the same semester.

When bringing his knowledge to the classroom, Hann looks to prepare his students for the professional arena.

“I try to make it as real life as possible,” he said, “to give students a sense of what it’s like to do this work in the real world.”

Hann loves to share anecdotes with his students about the experiences he has had as a writer and speaks fondly of his time as a journalist.

“My favorite part is having the privilege of telling stories of really interesting people doing really interesting things,” he said. “Journalistic privilege gets you into places and through doors that would not open otherwise.”

A graduate of Ohio University, Hann began his career working as a reporter for a small newspaper called the News-Review in Roseburg, Oregon. Although he was nervous at the thought of picking up and moving to an unfamiliar state, Hann learned a great deal from the experience.

“There’s no better way to learn about a place than to be a newspaper reporter in that place,” he said.

Originally from Bridgewater, New Jersey, Hann found his way back to the Garden State after spending three years on the West Coast.

He got a job as a police reporter at The Times of Trenton.

Hann was assigned to make police checks by calling local police stations twice a day. The experience was difficult, as he was working a Wednesday-to-Sunday shift and was not on the same schedule as the rest of the world.

Craving the active reporter lifestyle, Hann left the Times after about a year and began working at his hometown’s paper, the Courier News, where he was a reporter for 10 years.
He also started freelance writing for New Jersey Monthly, where he later became senior editor.

Following his nine years as editor, Hann became a freelance writer, working for an assortment of publications, including the New York Times, Entrepreneur Magazine, Art and Antiques Magazine and various college alumni magazines.

“The thing you have to remember as a freelancer is you have to do every story well because you’re never guaranteed that they’re going to call back,” Hann said. “It’s something that helps keep you sharp.”