From Cosmo to Here

Jessie Knadler visited our class to discuss her life in the magazine world. With a lot of animation, she described the quirky individuals she encountered in that Manhattan world.Jessie

Knadler entered the business of women’s magazines when it was at a peak of cultural influence. After graduating from Hunter College in New York, she joined the advertising staff of Modern Bride. She left advertising for an Editorial Assistant position at Cosmopolitan. Knadler reported stories on fashion, beauty and relationships.

Establishing a friendship with Cosmopolitan’s then-Editor-in-Chief Bonnie Fuller, Knadler followed her boss to Glamour. Later, she joined Fuller’s editorial team at the former tabloid Star, which Fuller re-launched as a glossy celebrity magazine. Knadler described Fuller as a “Canadian bulldog,” a force to be reckoned with in the magazine world. Women’s magazines were becoming the cultural mecca that everyone looked to for fashion advice, beauty tips, and lifestyle trends, and Fuller used her magazines’ influence to shift the focus from ordinary people and public affairs to celebrity gossip and paparazzi photos. During her reign as Editor-in-Chief of Star, Fuller created a “Stars—They’re Just Like Us” column that featured celebrities in the supermarket without makeup. Knadler witnessed first-hand the change from a value placed on long-form journalism to a strict adherence to “what people wanted” — shorter articles that featured more pictures about celebrities and popular culture.

Jessie and classOver time, Knadler grew disillusioned with the superficial world of sex tips and celebrity gossip. She left New York and ventured back to her home state of Montana to freelance an article about an amateur rodeo, and there she fell in love with the military man and “cowboy” she would marry. The couple then moved to their current residence in rural Rockbridge County. Knadler continued to freelance for magazines in New York, but also has been writing books. She has published a cookbook and is working on a second memoir. Her first memoir, Rurally Screwed, recounts the transition from her cosmopolitan city life to her rural family life. Her vivid details, identifiable anecdotes, and quick wit captivate the readers’ attention throughout.

She has recently taken on a new line of work: doing audio feature stories for the local public radio station WMRA out of Harrisonburg. She had no background in radio, but says she is excited about how it gives her story telling a third dimension.

— Grace Haynes

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