On same day, two Marshall native women's writing in New York Times
Robin Y. Richardson
Nov. 22, 2015 at 4 a.m.
Open up The New York Times and one would find two of Marshall's own - Andrea Arterbery and Laura Beil - whose by-lined articles both hit the "nation's newspaper of record" the very same day this month.
The articles, "Small Towns Face Rising Suicide Rates" by Beil and "Does Anyone Own the Cornrow" by Arterbery both made newsstands Nov. 3. They've both received heavy traffic online with Beil's generating 187 comments, as of Saturday and Arterbery's triggering 218 remarks.
Seeing their stories in such an esteemed publication has been rewarding for both of the now Dallas-based freelance writers.
"It's always been a dream of mine to have a byline in this publication and I have worked especially hard to make this happen," said Arterbery, a 1999 Marshall High School graduate who has also been published in Essence Magazine where she worked as beauty editor.
This is her second bylined article in the Times. The first was published in 2012 while working as a writer in New York.
"I lived and worked in New York for about 10 years before returning to Texas where I now live with my 3-year-old son, Aiden," Arterbery said.
"The first thing I did when I landed in New York after moving there was to visit The New York Times building.
"Having my work published in The New York Times is a dream come true," she said. "I think it's important to accomplish your dreams and goals no matter what."
Beil, a 1981 MHS graduate and health and science journalist, is a regular contributing writer for the Times. Her first article as a full-time freelance writer made the front page of the Times in 2006.
"The first time you see your name on the front page of New York Times, it's pretty cool," she said. "The second time it's great. I'm still proud to do it and proud to work for them and I'm happy that I can."
One of Beil's earlier stories published in the Times was on the resurgence of Wiley College in wake of the highly anticipated movie release of "The Great Debaters," a story about Wiley's 1935 winning team. The film was directed by Hollywood actor Denzel Washington and produced by Oprah Winfrey.
"It was nice to come to your hometown and have a front page story on my hometown," Beil said of the article, published Dec. 5, 2007.
Arterbery's latest "Skin Deep" feature, "Does Anyone Own the Cornrow," is featured on its very own page in The New York Times, above a Stuart Weitzman ad. Arterbery said her own personal struggles growing up as an African-American girl, being teased by her white peers about her cornrows, inspired her to write the story and how it feels to now witness other cultures embrace the style.
"I first noticed cornrows being done on the (mostly white) models while backstage covering beauty trends during New York Fashion week," Arterbery said. "Then, I saw the photos from the Valentino show that also featured the look on the (once again, mostly white) models and it made me think back to my childhood days of wearing them.
"Back then, I usually got teased by white girls for rocking the style, so it made me wonder about when it became such a trendy look among white women," she said. "I am not saying that white women can't wear cornrows, but I did want to further explore the topic and share my personal experiences with the hairstyle."
Besides The New York Times, both Arterbery and Beil continue to capture a national audience with their work, freelancing for some of the nation's top magazines.
Before her latest New York Times article, Beil landed a 12-page spread inside of Cosmopolitan magazine with a feature on the myths and pains of menstruation. The article, titled "Does Your Period Have to Be This Bad? Treatment for period pain hasn't advanced in 30 years. What gives?" was published Oct. 13. To date, the online article has 635 shares. Beil said it was nice to see how the article turned out.
"The editor said, 'We're looking for new ideas.' I said, 'Why not do something about why there hasn't been advancement in treatment for period pain in ... years?' They took off with it," Beil said of her idea. "That was nice to see that idea expand into something even more than that."
Living their dreams
Arterbery, who boasts a double bachelor's degree in journalism and publications from the University of North Texas, has wanted to be a writer for as long as she could remember. A book worm, one could always find her at the Marshall Public Library as a child. As a student at UNT, she discovered a newfound love of newspapers.
"I worked at the campus newspaper (The North Texas Daily) and fell in love with the world of newspapers," Arterbery said.
She completed newspaper internships at her hometown newspaper, The Marshall News Messenger, and the Tampa Tribune in Tampa, Florida.
"After college, I moved to New York and began working at Women's Daily," she said. "Then, I decided to give magazines a shot and landed a beauty editor job at Essence magazine."
The groundbreaking magazine was launched in 1970 exclusively for African-American women and still remains the go-to publication for the latest beauty, style and news.
"Since then I have written for several publications and websites including Allure magazine and Cosmopolitan.com," Arterbery said.
And while her first loves are covering beauty and style, Arterbery can tackle any subject.
"I can write pretty much anything that I'm assigned," she said.
And when she's not fulfilling her assignments for editors abroad, she's captivating her own special audience on her lifestyle blog, TheArtOfBery.com, where she talks about her personal style and all of her fun "mom adventures" with her toddler, Aiden Arterbery-Whitaker.
"I am constantly inspired," Arterbery said of what motivates her as a journalist. "I think reading, traveling and meeting new people always help me to come up with ideas. I love hearing other people's stories.
"I am also consistently inspired by my son, Aiden. Becoming his mother has been one of the greatest joys of my life and he never ceases to amaze me," she added.
As fate would have it, Beil, who has an undergraduate degree in zoology from Texas A&M University and graduate degree in journalism from the University of Texas at Austin, was able to merge both of her passions together - medicine and writing - into a career she loves.
"When I was in college, I was in pre-med. I wanted to be a doctor," she said. "I got accepted into medical school, but it was late. I didn't get in at first. So, I thought, 'OK. Well, now what do I want to do?' I had always loved to write."
With no journalism training, however, she decided to try her hand at writing subjects she was familiar with - medicine and health.
"I thought … I can combine my love of health and medical issues with writing," she recounted. "I applied for journalism school at UT. I was in A&M at the time. Then I ended up accepted into both and I had to make a choice, so journalism seemed like more fun, so I went to journalism because I didn't feel like I was giving up anything because I was still hanging around medicine, science… all the subjects I love.
"It's been great," Beil said. "Twenty something years later, I can combine the two things I love to do and I get paid. So, I'm pretty lucky."
While at UT, Beil said she landed some great internships.
"One internship at grad school was at National Geographic, which was really cool and Science News magazine, which today is one of the main magazines I write for," she said.
Beil's first job out of college was for Shreveport's then-afternoon paper, "Shreveport Journal."
"It was the medical beat in Shreveport," she said.
From Shreveport, she went to Baton Rouge. While in Baton Rouge, Beil received a call to work for Dallas Morning News - her dream job.
As a "Texas girl," "That was my dream job to always work for Dallas Morning News," she said, noting she started in 1992.
Beil worked for Dallas Morning News for 16 years before leaving to try freelancing full-time.
"I had no magazine contacts, so I just started," Beil said. "But, it helped that the very first assignment I did as a freelancer was on the front page for The New York Times.
"I've been freelancing ever since," she said, noting The New York Times is still the only newspaper she writes for; the rest are magazines.
The main magazine she writes for is Men's Health as a contributing editor.
"I know people think, 'Men's Health? It's got some ripped celebrity on the cover.' (However), it's actually one of the few consumer health magazines that will take a deep dive into stories," Beil said. "I love working for them.
"It's always great when you can make a job doing what you love. So many people are not able to do that, so I'm very thankful," she said, noting she was one of few journalists to write about Eddie Routh, the man who killed Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle, before the trial. The story made Men's Health magazine.
"You just want to tell a good, important story," she said of her mission.
The beat of their own drum
Arterbery said there will always be setbacks along anyone's journey, including people who will try to steal one's joy. But, she advises to never take "no" for an answer.
"Remember that there is always another way," she said. "Stay strong and forge your own path."
She and Beil both will continue to do just that as they have many other future projects brewing.
"I've always got something in the works," Arterbery said, noting readers can look out for her newest feature in the beauty section of the January 2016 issue of Cosmopolitan magazine, slated to hit newsstands next month.
Readers can follow Beil and her latest projects on her website, www.laurabeil.com.
"There's some big stories that will come out in the spring in Reader's Digest that I'm really proud of and Men's Health magazine and regularly in Science News," said Beil.
Beil said she enjoys what she does, sharing informative stories in her role as a journalist.
"I do think it's important," she said. "We live in a climate where people kind of attack the media, but yet it's so important. Our country can't function without information and truth.
"The idea of journalists, as bad guys, to me, is (contrasting) to what our founding fathers intended (regarding) the First Amendment. It's so important," Beil said.
"I hope to keep telling good stories that will inform people and make a difference," Beil said.
"You want to feel like you can make a difference," she added, noting as a journalist, she gravitates towards controversial stories that aren't being told.
"I just want to tell a story, but I want to tell important stories," Beil said.
Beil is the daughter of local historian, Gail Beil. Arterbery is the daughter of local educator, Shirley Davis.