Writing where needed and as needed
Josh Mamis spent years writing and editing for newspapers before becoming the media and marketing strategist for a non-profit organization called Love146. He uses his background in journalism to do research and help with writing whenever he can.
By MADY FORTIER | Reporter
Josh Mamis graduated from college and found himself moving to Nairobi to work for a newspaper that a family friend had started there. He has worked for multiple newspapers — writing and editing — and is now working for a nonprofit organization, Love146.
What does a week in your job and life look like?
“I help with writing and texts, everything from social media posts to writing and editing blogs. One of our core values is that we collaborate. We have an office in Houston, and when Harvey hit we got a call to collaborate on a public service campaign to make people aware of labor trafficking and sex trafficking. You have to be able to switch quickly and do everything. Writing where needed and as needed.”
Can you tell me your path from high school to where you are now?
“I was in school, an English major, (with) very little idea of what I wanted to do in life. I had already done some published writing, record reviews, for fun, (but) never thought it would be a profession. My senior year I thought ‘What am I going to do?’ I got invited to work at my friend’s newspaper in Nairobi. I spent a year in Nairobi doing feature writing, a truly remarkable experience. I would encourage everyone to not even travel outside of the states, but to live somewhere else for awhile.
“I got a job writing for an alternative news weekly. … I worked for a newspaper in Vermont. I worked for a New Haven alternative news, (did) 10 years of editing, and got promoted to publisher. Worked in corporate media, which I probably wasn’t well-suited for.”
“The journalism job market was very different then. I was young and eager and back then I was just thrilled to be able to do this for my living and my job.”
What excites you the most about what you do?
“So much. Love146 is truly unique and inspiring. We work in a subject matter that is really dark and really challenging. I come in every morning and I look at my Google alerts through all the news involving child slavery and trafficking and share them with people who work in prevention education and advocacy and others in the company. I also have to look through all the stuff that is really difficult to read.”
What do you wish you had known when you entered the job market?
“The journalism job market was very different then. I was young and eager and just thrilled to be able to do this for my living and my job. It didn’t matter what they paid me because I could do what I wanted. … I couldn’t believe that I was getting paid to do it. Internships were hard to get, few entry-level jobs. It’s really a different world and my last years of editing really changed my management point of view. It used to be energized by young writers, and then young writers wanted to be in web and blogging and not print anymore. It didn’t become the place where the most creative people wanted to be. It all became the internet and it makes me sad. You can write at some local dailies but it’s not the same world anymore.”
How much of your work comes home with you?
“It comes home sometimes and sometimes you’re not aware of it. You realize it’s from an issue earlier in the day. Because of the organization, everyone is given space to go through what they are going through — there’s a good support network here. We’re encouraged to be mindful of self-care and needing mental health days. The organization is very connected to that kind of need.”
Did you have a mentor or someone who influenced you on your journey?
“When I was 14 years old my best friend at that time’s father was an editor at the New York Times. I was able to know about Pentagon Papers and things that went on inside the editor’s office. I had a lot of exposure to the exciting parts of what it was like to be a journalist. When I was 22 or 23 I was staff writer for 6 months and then arts editor for 6 months. I walked in one day, and they had fired an editor and asked me to be the editor.
“I knew a writer and editor for the Washington Post. He always liked to smoke a cigar and had great stories about covering the presidential campaign. I said you’ve got to pay him to come in to counsel me and tutor me, and they did. It was about 6 months of being coached by one of the most experienced journalists in the world. Journalism is a never ending education. You write your stories, and every time it’s like taking a class. You have to master all these different stories and backgrounds. That’s what I always loved about being a journalist.”
How has working for Love146 impacted you?
“It’s been wonderful. It opens up a whole level of compassion for lots of different things, not just the work we do but for human beings. The people I work with here have so many things they do in their personal lives and you can’t help but be brought into that whole world in a very powerful way.”
What is the most rewarding part of your job?
“Sometimes I will look through when we get donations from supporters. They will sometimes leave comments and when I’m looking for material I will scan through them and get feedback like ‘I was so glad I stumbled upon your organization. I have been through some of these things in my childhood and I was moved to tears. I want to help someone else to not have to go through what I went through.’ ”
This interview taught me that sometimes you have to be bold and take risks, even if it means moving across the world for your first job after college. I learned that connections will get you far, and that if you want something, you should ask for it. You’d be surprised by who says yes.
Mamis has experienced the changing world of journalism and his insights are helpful as I am still learning where my place is in it. It is encouraging to hear that you don’t have to specialize in one thing for the rest of your career, and that there is so much opportunity in journalism. I would love to work for a nonprofit organization someday and use the skills that I have learned to tell stories about people who have been impacted by these organizations.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
*These answers are from Josh Mamis personally and do not reflect Love146 as an organization.