Rising Stars: Sydney Simon Turns Passion Into Advocacy at The Atlantic
"There's nothing like the feeling of seeing the journalism that you are charged with promoting actually guide a national conversation."
Five years ago, Sydney Simon joined The Atlantic fresh out of college as an assistant in the events department.
The Atlanta native jumped to communications nearly two years later, landing in her current role of senior communications manager, where she has proven to be a rising star.
Earlier this year, Simon was named one of Folio:‘s Top Women in Media. In her short time with the company, she has more than earned that epithet, placing news that sales of The Atlantic were expected to grow 14 percent on newsstands, as well as the story that The Atlantic was reprinting an issue for the first time in its 160-year history to meet burgeoning newsstand demand.
During the 2016 presidential nominating conventions, she raised the profile of The Atlantic’s Politics & Policy team, booking more than 80 separate broadcast interviews.
Furthermore, Simon tells Folio: that when she first started working with the organization, she booked and managed over 75 speakers for The Atlantic‘s annual Washington Ideas week of events, which she considers one of the biggest professional challenges, and accomplishments, of her career thus far.
After gaining a strong passion for the world of magazines, media, and current events growing up, Simon later went on to study political science and business at Tulane University in New Orleans. During her time in college, a combination of classes and internship experience led her to what would become “a robust knowledge of what goes into good journalism, how stories come together, and what makes journalists tick.”
Both her early interest in journalism and college experience led her to Washington, D.C., where she now resides and works at The Atlantic. In the communications division, she collaborates with a small team of three, including Anna Bross, senior director of communications, and Atlantic Media’s head of communications, Emily Lenzner.
“Because I work with such a compact team, we have some latitude to be scrappy and creative when it comes to publicizing The Atlantic,” she explains. “It’s always fun to brainstorm new ways to promote a story, or roll out a new issue of the magazine, and to see a pitch generate the coverage, attention and traffic we’re working for every day.”
In addition to her colleagues, one of Simon’s favorite parts about working at The Atlantic is being part of a publication constantly striving for quality journalism.
“To think that I’m working to promote the journalism that appeared in a magazine that was founded as a platform to advocate for the abolition of slavery is quite remarkable,” she says. “Today, we’re still grappling with strains of the same issues that generations of writers confronted over the past century and a half. It might sound contrived, but I really do believe we’re at a critical moment where the role of media is more important than ever.”
As a member of The Atlantic team, Simon also notes the excitement that comes along with seeing one of the brands’ cover stories taking off.
“There’s nothing like the feeling of seeing the journalism that you are charged with promoting actually guiding a national conversation,” she says. “We’ve seen Atlantic reporting lead to policy change, inspire community-wide town halls, and fill many university required reading lists. Former President Obama gave The Atlantic a shoutout on multiple occasions, and more recently, celebrities like John Legend, Chance the Rapper, and Meryl Streep (!!).”
Simon says there have been a number of people she’s looked to for advice throughout the years in her both her professional and academic life, referencing the women she works with on the communications team.
“The Atlantic communications team is also run by women, up to our SVP of Global Communications for Atlantic Media,” she adds. “I can safely say that these women seriously know how to get stuff done, solve problems, and take names while doing it.”
Looking ahead into her career, Simon hopes to stay intertwined with the media world. In addition to her role at The Atlantic, she is also pursuing a master’s degree in security policy studies at The George Washington University.
“I love working in and around media, and I think reporters are some of the smartest and most interesting people around,” she says. “So in the longer term, I can see combining these two backgrounds into work that involves the media relations side of public diplomacy and national security. And with the role of media is changing so much in our society, who knows what new opportunities will be available long down the road.”