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Newsmakers: Embracing change led Mike Fazioli on a two-decade adventure to the mastheads of Car and Driver and Road and Track magazines

When Mike Fazioli left The Daily Orange upon graduating from Syracuse University in 1991, he was convinced he was going to be the next great sports writer.

More than two decades later, he spends his days running between the office buildings of Hearst’s Car and Driver and Road and Track magazines.

He’s the managing editor. Of both.

“Just because you start in one thing doesn’t mean you can’t do something completely different as you move on,” Fazioli said. “In a million years I would’ve never guessed I would’ve been A) in magazines; and B) working completely on the logistics side of things.”

Fazioli transferred to Syracuse University as a junior from Pace University in White Plains, New York. He started working at The Daily Orange as a staff writer on the track and field beat, where he covered home meets and spent a lot of “quality time” on the phone with then-head coach Dick Coleman. After a year as a staff writer, Fazioli became an assistant sports editor.

At The D.O., Fazioli said, he was writing about Syracuse University for Syracuse University, a community he considers tight-knit. His first job was for a small daily newspaper in Flagstaff, Arizona, where he had to transition from an insulated university community to a much larger one with a rich history and a population of nearly 140,000.

“Your first professional job in a lot of ways is being thrown into the deep end,” Fazioli said. “As great as it is, and believe me, there’s nothing better than having the experience of writing for a daily. … But even then, going from a daily to a daily is certainly not apples to apples. It’s very different.”

Fazioli first got his hands onto the logistics side of publications at his first job, since his newspaper was so small. At first, he hated it — as a newspaper major, he said, he avoided math at all costs — but he discovered he had a knack for it.

After another newspaper job where he edited and designed pages, he moved into magazines. His career took him through jobs working at a health publication, a running magazine, a travel magazine, a professional wrestling magazine, and, finally, his current role.

Like so many others, Fazioli has seen major shifts in the media industry in recent years. But despite the advent of technology like tablets, he hasn’t seen any reason to doubt the longevity of the magazine industry as a whole.

“Everyone now believed that this new tablet was going to bring with it the end of paper, and the new digital medium was going to be a huge revenue stream — magazines would be able to put their publications on iPads and make a fortune,” Fazioli said. “I’ve read the obituary for magazines so many times, I mean, magazines have been dying of the same heart attack for fifteen years. And yet here they are.”

The magazine industry never fully rebounded from the economic crisis in 2008, Fazioli said. Now, the industry is focusing on digital content, but Fazioli said he can’t see the genuine end of print anytime soon.

“I think rumors of the death of magazines are greatly exaggerated,” Fazioli said. “They’ll always be there because digital is wonderful and websites are wonderful and all these things are great, but at the end of the day you want something tangible in your hands. You want something you can flip around. It’s hard to flip pages on a tablet.”

Fazioli has been at Hearst magazines for five years, and his career has taken him through many twists and turns that he never expected. He said the key is being open to change — whether from a small community to a larger one or the newspaper industry to the magazine world.

“It wasn’t something I set out to do, it wasn’t a master plan of any kind,” Fazioli said. “But it worked out really well. It’s just a lesson in being open to opportunities and open to change.”

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