Media advancements shape Zurier’s career

Editor Steve Zurier, right, is as passionate about music as he is about his career in magazine writing. Photo by Raymond Crowel

By Gurbani Chadha—

Steve Zurier, J/MS 1977, is a Renaissance man of the journalism industry.

Since he graduated from Livingston College, he’s been a newspaper reporter, technology editor, freelance writer, and managing editor of a magazine.

Zurier is now with TMG Custom Media in Washington, DC, publishers of custom magazines for businesses, associations, and non-profits. As managing editor, Zurier is responsible for editing, writing, and producing technology magazines for government, education, and small and medium-sized business markets.

Although his background is in print media, he’s had to go beyond it to be able to survive in the world of multimedia. “At work we do everything — print, web, video, Internet webinars, “ said Zurier. “It’s just endless.”

Terms and technology evolved considerably since the 1970s when Zurier became editor of Livingston’s paper, The Medium. “[Livingston] was a great atmosphere for learning politics and journalism,” Zurier said.

Student politics got him interested in journalism, and he enjoyed covering student demonstrations, faculty debates, and campus events. As editor of The Medium, Zurier was able to learn typography and the production side of the newspaper industry.

“I became more than just a reporter,” Zurier recalled.

After graduation, he plunged into a newspaper career.

“I spent about six months as a clerk at the Courier-News, then about a year with the old Paterson News, and later spent a couple of years with the Herald News,” Zurier said.

In 1986, he left the daily newspaper industry to work for Cahners Publishing in Newton, Massachusetts. In 1992 he moved to Washington, D.C. to work for Government Computer News.

Later, he managed the features department for Internet Week and turned to freelance writing when it published its last issue in January 2002.

“Establishing myself as a technology writer was a big step,” Zurier said.

An early believer that businesses must efficiently use technology, he started writing about it for computer magazines.

“I’m interested in the subject,” Zurier said. “I have a real passion for technology, what technology can do, and how technology can help learn and teach.”

In 2002 Zurier became the senior technology editor for Builder Magazine. There, he had the opportunity to cover everything from daily housing news to economic affairs. From his reports, he saw the financial situation in the United States getting worse.

In 2007, Zurier headed to Indianapolis to talk to homeowners.

He said, “We’re really not going to come out of this economic mess until we solve the housing mess.”

One career highlight was covering the House Financial Services Committee hearings at the height of the housing crisis.

Zurier was in the room when Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve chairman, and U.S. Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson briefed the committee.

“It was a terrific honor to be in the same room with these people,” Zurier said.

From Builder Magazine, he moved to TMG in 2008.

“I really like magazines, working on cover sell lines, putting together packages, and the process of putting together a magazine,” Zurier said.

He misses “some of the hard- driving investigative journalism and being able to write more.” In the coming months, he will be “blogging more,” Zurier promised.

One of his biggest challenges right now is keeping up with technological strides such as smart phones and tablets.

Looking back at the journalism industry over 35 years, Zurier said there have been many personal challenges. He confessed that it took him five to 10 years to get where he wanted. Zurier was in his early 30s when he “actually had a decent job and an apartment to live on my own.

“You come out of school, and you think you know it all,” he went on. “If you’re smart, you know that this is going to take some time,” Zurier said.

Another challenge was transitioning from newspaper to magazine writing. “The transition from straight news reporting to magazine writing took me about five years,” Zurier said. He found that magazine articles were more challenging and had more feature-oriented leads.

In his free time Zurier enjoys jazz music, playing his bass and guitar. He finds it relaxing to study music and play guitar “with good people.”

“Maybe when I retire, I can study music more,” Zurier said.

He resides in Columbia, MD, with his wife and two sons. He likes to quote Charles Mingus, 20th century bass player, pianist, bandleader and composer: “Making the simple complicated is commonplace; making the complicated simple, awesomely simple — that’s creativity.”