The force is with her
Bonnie Burton (Engl, Jour’95) has been a self-professed geek since she was a child. Growing up she enjoyed everything from Doctor Who to The X-Files and at the age of 12 she wrote fan fiction about the Battlestar Galactica TV series. But it was her love for Star Wars that helped propel her career.
In 2003 she became the senior content editor and social media strategist for Lucasfilm, home to the Star Wars franchise. She managed the company’s social media campaigns and learned firsthand what entertainment companies needed to do to connect with and develop their audience.
“While not all Star Wars fans will agree on what they love, they all appreciate it when their passion is rewarded in the form of fan film awards, fan conventions, fan screenings and so on,” Burton says. “My 10 years at Lucasfilm proved to be an education in not only content creation but also filmmaking, marketing, audience development, fan relations and so much more.”
The experience drove her into a whirlwind media career. In addition to her current position as a fulltime writer at CNET.com, which publishes technology and electronics news and reviews, Burton also hosts pop culture-based podcasts and web shows like “Geek DIY” on comic icon Stan Lee’s “World of Heroes” YouTube channel. She has written many books, including The Star Wars Craft Book and Girls Against Girls: Why We Are Mean to Each Other and How We Can Change.
While attending CU-Boulder, Burton wrote as a freelancer for publications like Wired and worked as an editor at a fledgling Apple-run website, eWorld. But her greatest journalism education came from working at the Campus Press, a CU-Boulder student publication that morphed into the online-only CU Independent in 2008.
“It was the beginning of online newspapers, and I was there when the Campus Press first decided to experiment with an online version,” Burton says. “Learning the ins-and-outs of online journalism as it was being created was exciting and frustrating, but I wouldn’t have become the journalist I am today if I hadn’t been involved in the college newspaper.”
Burton keeps up with the changing digital landscape by writing about subjects she is naturally passionate about, eagerly reading blogs, Twitter and new social media sites to learn more about the industry.
“You have to be genuinely interested in tech and social media to succeed in this business without burning out,” Burton says. “It’s not just about writing what you know — you should write what you want to know more about.”
Photography © iStock.com/Brendan Hunter