Meet a Member: Megan Smith-Harris

New members are vital to our organization. One of our newest members is Megan Smith-Harris who earlier this year joined Connecticut Press Club and won honors in the affiliate communications contest. She has commitments, so she can not join us this fall in Kansas, but hopefully she will be able to attend the Alabama conference. Meet one of our outstanding new members.

Megan Smith-Harris, Editor of Wilton Magazine Photo by Karen Morneau

Megan Smith-Harris, Editor of Wilton Magazine Photo by Karen Morneau

Name: Megan Smith-Harris

City and State: Wilton, Connecticut

Affiliate and any leadership positions: Connecticut Press Club

Years a member of NFPW: Newbie! Joined in January 2016.

Tell us a little about you.

For the past couple of years I have been fortunate enough to be the editor of Wilton Magazine, a regional high-end lifestyle magazine that is part of the TownVibe Media Company. I came to my editorial role in a rather circuitous route. Throughout my 20s I made a successful living as a professional actress and writer, working mostly in comedy. I got frustrated with the two-dimensional roles being offered to women so in my early 30s I quit acting and went to film school. Soon after, I got sidelined from my goal of writing and producing feature films when I fell in love with storytelling potential of making documentaries.

After helming a series of documentaries that have aired in Canada, the U.S., and abroad, I heard that Wilton Magazine was looking for a new editor. At the time, I was writing MEGAblog, a popular blog for Hearst CT Media, and thought, “Why not try for the editorial position?” I pitched myself as a passionate storyteller who had worked professionally in multiple media, including television, film, radio, theatre, magazines, and blogs. I was the dark horse in the race because of my lack of a journalism pedigree, but TownVibe publisher and editor-in-Chief Geoffrey Morris liked my ideas, enthusiasm, and writing samples. Amazingly, I got the gig.

I’ve been in the position just over two years and I love the job. Not only do I get to write for every issue of the magazine, but I also have (almost) full autonomy over the editorial content. Content is driven by its relevance to our community,, which allows me to make the magazine truly a reflection of the readers it serves. I am also in the fortunate position of being able to cultivate local writers and develop new writing voices, which is wonderful. My goal is always to make the next issue better than the last.

Though I write for work, I also write for pleasure. Recently, I finished a one-act play that I’m now expanding into a full-length play. I’m also putting the finishing touches on a feature film script Behind the Hedgerows that I’ve been toying with for several years.

I’ve had a non-traditional path to journalism and am so grateful to my boss for taking a leap of faith and hiring me. To win multiple awards from the CT Press Club on my very first year submitting work has made me happy and proud. In this life, we all evolve and grow. Writing has always been a personal passion and remains the one constant that I have been able to rely on both professionally and personally.

Wilton Magazine Editor Megan Smith-Harris with young author Claire Fraise at "The Wilton 25" party

Wilton Magazine Editor Megan Smith-Harris with young author Claire Fraise at “The Wilton 25” party

Any career advice you would give?

Develop social media and marketing skills even if they’re rudimentary. Make sure that you’re on Linkedin and Facebook, Twitter, and/or Instagram. View yourself as a brand that people need and want. And get out there! Go to film festivals, plays, art openings, seminars, author readings, and parties. Not only will you have fun and gain exposure, but you’ll also make some useful contacts and possibly land a great gig. The old chestnut is still true: Do what you love because if you love what you do, you’ll excel in your field and enjoy life a lot more.

Which talent would you most like to have?

Wow. That’s tough. There are so many things I’d like to be able to do. In descending order: Sing like Nina Simone (never going to happen), speak French like a native, and tap dance like Eleanor Powell who was reputed to be the best female tap dancer of all time. If I could do all three simultaneously…? Well, that would be something, wouldn’t it?

If you could live anywhere, where would it be?

Again with the challenging questions! It’s a toss-up between Vancouver (a temperate climate year round, no bugs, and jaw-dropping views) and the South of France. I’ve never actually been to the south of France but I can dream, can’t I?

What book are you reading?

I’m always reading three or more books simultaneously. Currently on my night stand: A God in Ruins by Kate Atkinson (because I loved her previous novel Life After Life); Switched On: A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening by John Elder Robison, detailing his experience with Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) during a medical study at Yale,and Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling which is hilarious and the perfect book to read on days when I’m feeling grumpy.

What would people be surprised to learn about you?

That I’m also a documentary filmmaker. My current film, The Buddy System: A Dog Makes a Difference (http://BuddySytemFilm.org) explores the extraordinary impact of specially trained autism assistance dogs on the lives of a children on the spectrum. Our team has been following a group of kids and their service dogs on and off for over three years. We’re in post-production and hope to launch the film during Autism Awareness month next April 2017.  My last film, Trial by Fire: Lives Re-forged (http://TrialByFireDoc.org) will continue to air on PBS across the country for another few years.

Why is your affiliate and NFPW important to you?

To be honest, I don’t know yet, but I look forward to finding out. I’m fairly new to print journalism, but as in any field, I think it’s important to get to know your colleagues and the issues that affect your industry. I’m also looking forward to getting better acquainted with other writers through reading the newsletter, attending the national conference at some point in the future, and participating in events sponsored by my local chapter, the Connecticut Press Club.

Way to follow you on a website, twitter, Facebook, etc.

Personal Website:  http://MeganSmithHarris.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/megan.smithharris.9

Wilton Magazine Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/WiltonMagazine/?fref=ts

TownVibe Website: http://townvibe.com

The Buddy System Documentary: http://BuddySystemFilm.org

Trial by Fire Documentary: http://TrialByFireDoc.org

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