Robert Kolker, contributing editor at New York magazine and author of true crime story “Lost Girls”, visited students at Texas State University on Monday as a part of Mass Communication Week, a series of events sponsored by the School of Journalism and Mass Communication.
Kolker, who has been writing for New York magazine since 1998, published his first book in the summer of 2013. Part of the true crime genre, “Lost Girls: An Unsolved American Mystery” explores the lives of five women who went missing in the New York area.
For Kolker, the book is not just a murder story but also a form of social commentary because the victims, all escorts, were contacted by the suspected serial killer through ads on Craigslist.
“It’s about class,” he said. “It’s about people who were from struggling areas trying to make money any way they could.”
Kolker, who has been an investigative journalist for almost two decades, initially declined to write an article about it for New York magazine, believing the case would receive widespread media attention and be solved quickly.
As months went by and the case could not be closed, Kolker agreed to the story. His original article, A Serial Killer in Common, made the cover of New York magazine and not long after, helped to secure the “Lost Girls” book deal.
|Robert Kolker took questions from students after his presentation.|
Kolker also talked to students about his career history, and the importance of gaining personal experience in their early journeys.
“He seemed very passionate about his profession and I believe that’s what keeps him successful and excited about what he does,” said Rachel Starnes, public relations major at Texas State.
After graduating from Columbia University in 1991 with a degree in history, Kolker took what he called a “circuitous route” to find his calling in journalism, working where he could as an assistant or a secretary in his young postgraduate years.
“At some point I sort of stood up, almost two years out of college, and realized what I really wanted to do was write for publication,” he said. “Suddenly it didn’t matter to me what it was… I just wanted to be in print.”
In addition to his book premiere, Kolker has also had several cover stories with New York magazine and received the Harry Frank Guggenheim 2011 Excellence in Criminal Justice Reporting Award from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York, according to his personal website.