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Behind the Scenes

Support from readers like you makes it possible for us to produce the high-quality journalism that you expect and rely on. We wanted to share what goes on behind the scenes—so we asked our editors to describe something about what goes into reporting and writing the stories you see in Harvard Magazine.

We hope you will consider making a donation to Harvard Magazine so we can continue to bring you this type of thoughtful, in-depth journalism. As an independent nonprofit, we cannot do it without your support. 



Drew Pendergrass shares insights into his process of writing personal essays for the Undergraduate column as a Ledecky Fellow, and about how the importance of time, reflection, editing, and great mentorship led him to become a stronger writer. Thanks to support from our readers, our staff writers are able to dedicate time to mentoring and training our undergraduate fellows to become skilled journalists. Read about Drew's process here.


Jacob Sweet wrote a profile of Peabody professor of music Alexander Rehding, “One Small Step for Music,” focused on the music theorist and musicologist’s interstellar reach. Thanks to reader support, Jacob was able not only to immerse himself in Rehding’s research—on the Golden Record that NASA sent into space and on terrestrial music history and theory—but also to expand his own view of music. Read his insights here.

Marina Bolotnikova wrote a profile of Winthrop professor of history and professor of African and African American studies Walter Johnson and his radical history of St. Louis. Support from our readers allowed her to take the time to embed herself in his world and really understand the context for his work—which helped her to appreciate not just Walter Johnson, but the story of her own hometown in a new light. Read her reflection.

Jonathan Shaw wrote a comprehensive story about Harvard’s collaboration with Chinese researchers to develop diagnostics and therapies for treating the novel coronavirus: SARS-CoV-2. Jon has reported on topics like this for Harvard Magazine in the past and has built relationships with many of the scientists involved, and so he was able to put this crisis in context, in record time. And because people like you support his work, he was able to share this important scientific information with the public. Read his account


John Rosenberg explained how our freelance budget, provided by donors, covered bare-bones travel expenses as well as the fee for a feature article about the state of journalism in the Internet era, reported and written by former Harvard Nieman Fellow, newspaper editor, and digital journalist Mark Travis. “Renewing the News” is a revealing, comprehensive account of the journalists and emerging journalism responding to a nationwide crisis. Read how the story came about. 

John Rosenberg also wrote about how travel funds, made possible by reader donations, not only allowed him to travel to Michigan to report on Harvard president Larry Bacow’s project to partner with the University of Michigan to combat inner-city poverty and the opioids crisis in that state, but also enabled Lydialyle Gibson to return to the state later to cover the the first Harvard-UM opioids conference. Read Rosenberg’s letter here.