Alumna First Female to Serve as Editor in Chief of National Geographic

Journalism alumna Susan Goldberg took time out of her busy schedule as Editor in Chief of National Geographic magazine and news to come back to campus to talk with students about the journalism profession and offer advice.

"I love coming back here," said Goldberg, who serves on the College of Communication Arts and Sciences Alumni Board. "I owe a lot to Michigan State. It was my training at MSU that allowed me to succeed and be where I am today. That's why I am here today and that's why I stay involved."

Goldberg joined National Geographic in January 2014 as the Executive Editor for News and Features. Three months later, in April 2014, she was appointed Editor in Chief. She is the first female to hold that position and the 10th editor of the monthly magazine since it was first published in October 1888.

Being the first female editor is familiar territory for Goldberg as she was the first woman to run the newsrooms of the Cleveland Plain Dealer and San Jose Mercury News. She also was the first female to cover the Michigan state legislature for the Detroit Free Press.

"I never thought I would be the editor of National Geographic. I never thought I would be the editor at any paper. My goal was to be a reporter at a big city newspaper," said Goldberg, who also has worked for USA Today and Bloomberg News. "I wanted to go where I could make a difference and where I could make the best stories."

Goldberg credits the start of her successful 35-year journalism career to her MSU education and an eight-week summer internship at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, after which she was hired directly into a permanent full-time job as a reporter.

"Michigan State gave me the training and experiences I needed to succeed," she said. "So when a door was opened for me long ago, I was able to walk through and keep on going."

Goldberg dropped out of college for a few years to take the job at the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, but later, when she began working for the Detroit Free Press, she returned to MSU to finish her journalism degree and graduated in 1984.

"I never wanted to be anything other than a journalist," Goldberg said. "My favorite thing is the power of storytelling that we do. Stories that jump off the page that make the reader really care."

During her time as City Editor of the San Jose Mercury News, the 1989 San Francisco Earthquake took place and the earthquake coverage by the paper won a Pulitzer Prize.

Goldberg recently was selected by Exceptional Women in Publishing (EWIP) as the 2015 recipient of the Exceptional Woman in Publishing Award. Each year, EWIP selects an accomplished woman to receive the award in order to inspire women in the field of periodical publishing.

Goldberg will receive the Exceptional Woman in Publishing Award at EWIP's Women's Leadership Conference on Thursday, March 26, at the Clark Kerr Conference Center at the University of California, Berkeley.

Goldberg was back on MSU's campus Feb. 9 and 10. She held a public lecture on "Storytelling at National Geographic: Breaking Through the Yellow Border," spoke to several different classes, and met individually with journalism students in speed networking sessions.