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Interviews

Mark Aldam, President of Hearst Newspapers on the Future of Print

Mark-Aldam-ArticleMark Aldam, president of Hearst Newspapers, has been working in the field of print journalism for close to 30 years. He has seen the changing media landscape firsthand and has some ideas on how to keep print afloat.

In our latest So What Do You Do column, Aldam explains how Hearst differs from its competitors (such as News Corp., Tribune, Gannett), what most excites him about the newspaper business and why print isn’t dying:

I think there’s obviously some truth to the concern about the printed newspaper’s future given just the relationship between print ads and the size of the paper that most publishers produce. But my first response is: I believe that the printed newspaper will be around long enough to print our obituaries. I think the newspapers that have responded to where consumers demand to access news and information — which is in their palm, and on their desktops and tablets — I think we stand a very good chance of being an influential part of the community…

For more from Aldam, including what his typical day is like, read: So What Do You Do, Mark Aldam, President of Hearst Newspapers?

Mediabistro Course

Children's Picture Book Writing

Children's Picture Book WritingStarting September 15, this part lecture, part workshop course will take you through the process of outlining, writing, editing, and submitting a children's picture book. Taught by a published children's book author, Dashka Slater will teach you how to write in pictures, hook readers and editors with your story, apply the nuts and bolts of marketing, and more. Register now! 

Legendary Journalist Belva Davis Dishes on Interviewing the Greats

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Belva Davis, the first female African-American TV reporter on the West Coast, has paved the way for the likes of Tamron Hall and Soledad O’Brien. She is a true pioneer, a self-taught journalist whose incredible career has spanned print, radio and television.

In our latest So What Do You Do column, Davis talks about how she landed her fig gig at Jet, the reason she never turned down a story in the first decade of her career and why some of her memorable interview moments stand out for the wrong reasons:

I interviewed Jim Jones, who was someone I never wanted to talk to, and I had a poor interview with W.E.B. Dubois because I was young and didn’t know the significance of his importance. As time went on, I was interviewing Muhammad Ali one day and in the presence of Malcolm X the next. I did one of many interviews with Huey Newton in Cuba. Celebrities were open to me because I’d been on radio. I just pulled out some files the other day: interviews with Ella [Fitzgerald], Nancy [Wilson] and Lena [Horne]. But I think it was my first interview with then-Governor Reagan because it was unusual that I got past the Republican barricade. That was because of a co-worker and mentor named Roland Post, who became my co-anchor on a political talk show.

To hear more from Davis, including her experiences with sexism during the civil rights movement, read: So What Do You Do, Belva Davis, Pioneering Broadcast Journalist, TV Host and Author?

Paul McKenna on What Makes a Great Interviewer

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Paul McKenna has worn many hats during his eclectic, impressive career. He’s an international best-selling author, a hypnotist, a self-help guru and, now, a TV host.

On his new show McKenna (currently streaming on Hulu) he interviews media moguls like Simon Cowell, Ryan Seacrest, Harvey Weinstein, Rachael Ray and Randy Jackson to find out “what makes them tick.” In our latest So What Do You Do column, McKenna gives advice to up-and-coming media pros and shares his thoughts on what makes a great interviewer:

I’m not a journalist. So I haven’t come from conventional journalistic training, which is to go for the jugular, you know, sneak one question in under another, try and get the other person [to] expose something. I’m just fascinated and curious. I think 25 years in the trenches, working with the most challenged of people you can imagine, has given me an ability to have a politely inquiring manner, I hope. I think you get more from people if they feel that they’re being genuinely listened to and understood, and that they don’t need to be on guard.

For more from McKenna, including how a chance encounter on Simon Cowell‘s boat resulted in his latest gig, read: So What Do You Do, Paul McKenna, Best-Selling Author, Hypnotist and Host of Hulu’s McKenna?

Focus Groups Helped With the Early Success of Essence

Essence has been in circulation for over four decades and was under some controversy nine years ago when founder Edward Lewis sold the remaining shares of the company to Time Inc. In his new book, The Man from Essence: Creating a Magazine for Black Women, Lewis discusses how the magazine became one of the leading publications for black women. Lewis spoke with Mediabistro and discussed the early days of Essence and the state of black media today.

Lewis credits focus groups with contributing to the magazine’s early success — these voices helped with everything from what appeared in its pages to the name (Sapphire was quickly rejected). Several years later, Lewis turned to former editor-in-chief Susan Taylor to speak to its target audience face-to-face:

I said, ‘I want you to travel the country, listen to what black women have to say, bring that back and translate that into the magazine.’ Susan became an icon. People thought she started the magazine. She got so many ideas from traveling.

To read more about the history of Essence and how Lewis helped launch Latina magazine, read: So What Do You Do, Edward Lewis, Founder of Essence Magazine?

Marcy Bloom on How She Became Condé Nast’s Youngest Publisher

Marcy-Bloom-ArticleMarcy Bloom is a publishing veteran, having worked at numerous glossies like Self, GQ, Teen People and Lucky. After taking a year off to volunteer abroad, Bloom hit the ground running with her current gig as senior vice president and group publisher of Modern Luxury.

In our latest So What Do You Do column, Bloom talks with Mediabistro managing editor Valerie Berrios about the changing landscape of modern advertising and how she became Condé Nast’s youngest publisher while at Lucky:

One [reason was] putting a lot of pressure on myself. [Having] a lot of amazing mentors, and quite frankly, Condé was such a great experience for me. We loved what we were doing at GQ. I learned a ton from the brand and my bosses there. And when you’re loving what you’re doing it’s easy to grow and work hard, and so with a lot of support from my management and the corporate management — they really put me [in that position at Lucky]. I think if you work hard and your intentions are great and you know what you’re looking to accomplish, people respond.

Read more

Boy Genius Report’s Jonathan Geller on the Benefits on Anonymity

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Jonathan Geller has already lived an incredibly full life, and he’s not yet 30 years old. The founder of Boy Genius Report (the uber-popular mobile tech site) dropped out of high school his sophomore year to pursue a career in the music industry, which eventually led him to write an anonymous column for Engadget. This, in turn, led to the creation of BGR.com.

In our latest So What Do You Do column, Geller talks about writing for Engadget at 17, almost being sued by Cingular and the benefits of anonymity:

I stayed anonymous because at the time I was doing both music and [writing], and I didn’t want to be known in both worlds. I also liked the hype and marketing opportunities and uniqueness of being anonymous. I was this 17-year-old kid running the site, and the head of AT&T thought there were 1,000 people behind it, and he’s trying to come after me. Everyone in the tech industry feared me. By the time BGR got acquired by PMC, I decided to finally out myself. It just seemed like the right thing to do. I wanted to be a visible figure and the public face of my brand.

For more from Geller, including his advice for people starting a career covering tech, read: So What Do You Do, Jonathan Geller, President and Editor-in-Chief of Boy Genius Report?

Jeff O’Connell, Veteran Editor of Men’s Mags, Shares His Celebrity Interview Techniques

Jeff-O'Connell-ArticleJeff O’Connell, editor-in-chief of Bodybuilding.com, has had an illustrious career in fitness journalism. Starting off as a staff writer at Muscle & Fitness, O’Connell eventually worked his way up to EIC. He also served as executive writer at Men’s Health, has co-written a New York Times best-selling workout book with LL Cool J, and penned his own title, Sugar Nation, in 2011.

In our latest So What Do You Do column, O’Connell talks about the inauspicious start to his career, how he finds his most fascinating human-interest stories and his advice on interviewing celebrities:

So much of it is making the other person comfortable, especially if you do a celebrity interview. They’re so on guard, they’re so wary to begin with. I’m a very laid-back person, so I think that helps me, because sometimes people relax when they’re with me… whereas if you’re kind of intense and aggressive, they tend to recoil from that. Something that I thought would be a liability when I got into this business, which was being kind of shy and quiet and a listener, in many ways has actually helped me along the way. Don’t assume what you think are your weaknesses won’t help you at some point.

For more from O’Connell, including his best writing and editing tips, read: So What Do You Do, Jeff O’Connell, Award-Winning Writer And Editor-In-Chief of Bodybuilding.com?

Bevy Smith, Host of Fashion Queens, on Her Magazine Career

Bevy-BlogBevy Smith, host of Bravo’s Fashion Queens, has worn many hats during her varied, impressive career. She started off in magazine advertising, working with big-name glossies like Vogue and Vanity Fair. She later became Rolling Stone‘s senior director of fashion advertising.

Smith’s career took a 180 after leaving the magazine world and she hasn’t looked back since. In our latest So What Do You Do column, Smith talks about becoming a TV personality, how Andy Cohen became her champion and how her networking skills helped kick off her career reinvention:

When I quit Rolling Stone, I quit with the idea that I was going to pursue TV and I was going to write. As soon as I quit, I went to South Africa, Zambia, Brazil and Costa Rica for three months. I had an amazing time and cleansed myself of my corporate life.  When I came back, I got a phone call from my dear friend Mimi Valdés, who at the time was the editor-in-chief of Vibe. She said, ‘We would love to have you back.’ Whenever VH1 or BET needed someone to come on and talk about the fab life of XYZ R&B or hip-hop star, I wanted to be the person from Vibe that went on. So I did that and I built up my reel, and that’s also how I started writing.

For more from Smith, read: So What Do You Do, Bevy Smith, Host of Bravo’s Fashion Queens?

Former EIC of XXL on Being the Reigning King of Hip-Hop on Social Media

Elliot-Lewis-Article3Elliott Wilson, the former editor-in-chief at XXL and Xxlmag.com, has worked in the field of hip-hop journalism for 20 years and has recently been promoting his brands on social media to great success.

Thanks to his site, Rap Radar, a live-interview show on Myspace (yeah, that Myspace), his hosting duties on “The Truth” (on Jay Z‘s Life+Time’s YouTube Channel) and a forthcoming print project on Kickstarter called HRDCVR, Wilson’s career is on fire. Here, he talks about using Twitter to promote his brand:

When an artist puts out an album… I’ll retweet their iTunes link and try to encourage people to buy music because I think it benefits the culture overall. But, in terms of me, I think I do a good job of showing who I am– the same way I did with the XXL editorials I used to do – and my real personality. I’m really competitive, I really want to win, I want to be an authority of our culture, and I want to prove that nobody has as much passion about it or drive as I do. So I share that but then I also welcome other voices and other points of view. I want hip-hop culture to be respected and acknowledged as the dominant force of pop culture, which I think it is.

For more from Wilson, including his tips for successful social media branding, read: Hey, How’d You Become Hip-Hop’s Social Media Authority, Elliott Wilson?

Demetria Lucas Explains How Her Blog, ‘A Belle in Brooklyn,’ Was Born

Demetria-Lucas-ArticleDemetria Lucas‘ road to reality TV stardom is an unusual one. She started as a writer and a journalist, working for the likes of Honeymag.com, Harlequin and BET Books, before her uber-successful blog, A Belle in Brooklyn, exploded onto the scene. Dubbed the “black Carrie Bradshaw” by the Washington Post, Lucas’ career took off.

She has since worked as the relationships editor and dating columnist at Essence, written two books and now stars on Bravo’s Blood Sweat and Heels. In the latest interview for Mediabistro’s So What Do You Do series, Lucas reveals how her writing career prepared her for the TV spotlight and how she came to start her blog:

Sex and the City was still on the air, and black women who watched it took issue like, ‘This is New York City. There are amazing people of all colors here, including fabulous black women with great careers. Why isn’t there one on the show?’ I was looking for a site, a book, something that filled that gap. I complained to one of my writer friends about it and he said, ‘Well, you’re a writer. Why don’t you write it?’ That’s how A Belle in Brooklyn was born. I started doing it on MySpace and it quickly became popular. Then I went to a networking event and pitched the idea of writing about dating and relationships as a single black woman in Brooklyn to the editor of Honeymag.com. She loved it. The first piece I did for her site got around 4,000 visitors and she called me like, ‘Oh my God. We’ve struck gold.’

For more from Lucas, including how she uses social media to interact with her fans, read: So What Do You Do, Demetria Lucas, Writer and Reality Show Star?

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