Matthew Jaster is a Senior Editor for Gear Technology and Power Transmission Engineering magazines. He is responsible for writing/editing features, managing online news content/social media and developing story ideas for both magazines. He is also a freelancer writer/copywriter.
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
Emerging technologies such as additive manufacturing, IIoT, automation and robotics as it pertains to gear manufacturing and mechanical power transmission. Our editorial staff enjoys looking at the latest gadgets and gizmos in manufacturing and seeing how this technology can be applied to our readers. We also focus on the latest developments in heating treating, cutting tools, gear grinding, gear inspection in Gear Technology and bearings, gear drives, motors, lubrication, motion control and mechatronics in Power Transmission Engineering.
Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.
Two come to mind, first was the opportunity to interview production designer David Korins about the components used for the turntable stage in Hamilton, the musical. The second was a rather entertaining feature article about engineers arguing over what company has produced the largest gear in the world.
What story or stories are you most proud of?
The stories about the people working in these industries. Examples include a profile on a technology education teacher in Wisconsin that helped his former students get manufacturing positions so that they stayed in town instead of moving away to find jobs.
Also, an educational piece on seven organizations that spent a great deal of their free time convincing middle school kids that they can have successful and satisfying careers in manufacturing and engineering.
Another was an article where I talked with 11 industry leaders in gear manufacturing to see what they thought the typical shop floor might look like in the year 2036. It’s fun to go back 20 years in our magazine and see how much has changed in these industries and it’s even more fun to speculate about what manufacturing might look like 20 or so years into the future.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?
A great hook, something I’ve never read anywhere else. Trade magazines regularly fall victim to rehashing the same material over-and-over again. We want original content. I’m most proud of the work we do that looks at a story from a different point of view and engages the reader.
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?
I started working for a local business magazine in my hometown during college, but I really caught the reporting bug as an entertainment editor for my high school newspaper. I graduated from Columbia College Chicago with a degree in journalism and a minor in film studies. I’ve been involved in writing/editing in areas like arts and entertainment, humor, manufacturing, business, engineering, technology, automotive, law, and history for newspapers, magazines and websites in Illinois and Michigan for 24+ years! I also moonlight as a copywriter as well which is entertaining, creative, complicated and helps pay the bills.
Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am …
Hanging out with my family (my wife, my daughter, my son and our horse, Joey), trying to read three novels at once, trying to write three novels at once and watching my Detroit sports teams (Red Wings and Tigers) underwhelm on a regular basis. I also enjoy golf, riding my bike and destroying song lyrics!
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
As I mentioned earlier, we want new and exciting story ideas we haven’t read anywhere else. We want your pitches that look at gears or mechanical power transmission components in new and unconventional ways. We want to help bring your client’s story to the right audience. At the end of the day, it’s all about the content. If it’s not standard, conventional trade magazine filler, we’ll make room for it online and in the magazine!
Any pet peeves with PR people?
I have few pet peeves as I get to work with some pretty great PR people, but there are a few simple things. Don’t tell me an article is an exclusive for us and then I see it in three other publications the next month! Don’t change a headline and the opening paragraph and try to submit the same material we received six months ago. Also, be patient with editors from small publications, we’re trying to do the same amount of work with 10 – 15 people that is being done with 50 to 100 employees at other publications.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, etc.)
I grew up in Michigan—spent many years living in and around Chicago—and recently moved back to Michigan to harass my parents and in-laws. I’m a film junkie, certified nerd, and regular Jeopardy viewer. When I’m not working on the magazines, you’ll find me rewriting a novel or a screenplay, attending concerts or simultaneously entertaining and embarrassing my wife and my children! Humor is key.