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So What Do You Do?

Harriette Cole on the Road From Runway Model to Ebony EIC

Harriette-Cole-ArticleTo begin a media career that has included stints as fashion director at Essence, founding editor of Uptown magazine and editor-in-chief of Ebony, Harriette Cole started with what she knew: fashion. The former runway model used her field expertise to wrangle two internships for herself.

There were no internships in liberal arts, so I created them at two free papers in Washington, D.C. I convinced them to let me write about fashion and gave myself a year to collect a body of clips. When that milestone got close, I reached out to two women I’d stayed in touch with from school who worked at magazines and asked if they knew of any job openings. They both did, one position at Fairchild Publications [now Fairchild Fashion Media] and another at Essence. I was offered both, but I took the job at Essence.

But before Harriette Cole was writing, she was typing. The first job the Howard graduate had was on the Hill, and it was far from glamorous. Cole’s role was secretarial in nature, but she found a way to write, and learned a lesson she continues to pass on: Read more

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So What Do You Do, Danyel Smith, Editor, Author and Co-Founder of HRDCVR?

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There’s a piece of advice Danyel Smith received her first day on the job as editor-in-chief of Vibe that’s resonated with the writer-slash-editor-slash-author ever since: You don’t have to do anything you don’t want to do. It came from her mother, delivered in that simplified, stripped down, yeah-it-really-is-that-easy manner that momfolk have. Creatively and professionally, it freed Smith in what has culminated into an enviable, 20-year career at major titles — among them, Time and Billboard — which has solidified her spot on the list of editorial doyennes.

A 2013-2014 John S. Knight Journalism Fellowship at Stanford University brought that initial nugget of mama wisdom full circle. “I have higher expectations of myself to not do stuff because I should. That’s easy to forget,” she confessed. “Someone there said, ‘Just because you’re good at something doesn’t mean you have to do exactly that. You can do other things.’ That’s why Stanford was so amazing.” Feeling reborn is part of it. Now wholly submerged in the anticipated publication of HRDCVR, a culture magazine she co-founded with husband and fellow journo Elliott Wilson, she’s exemplifying it. “It’s a good feeling to be working for something that you really, really believe in,” Smith beamed.

Here, she talks professional reinvention, new platforms and more.

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So What Do You Do, Bill Schultz, Emmy-Winning Animation Producer?

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He’s best known as the producer of animated smash hits, like The Simpsons and King of the Hill, but it’s his forthcoming animated dramedy he hopes will earn him worldwide (Web) praise and land him a weekly spot on your TV. Bill Schultz‘s latest venture, Jimmy Stones, takes to the Internet to create a series for the people, by the people, to reach the masses.

After four Emmy awards and nearly 30 years in the film and television business, Schultz is no stranger to collaboration, but online crowdfunding — that’s new. Now he’s teamed up with Jim Manos, Jr., Emmy-Award-winning writer of The Sopranos and The Shield, and creator of Dexter, to develop a new kind of animated series. Jimmy Stones is a half-hour adult animated comedy series that follows a cynical guy as he deals with his miserable life and finds himself speaking to animals living around him New York City. The animals remind him it’s never too late to start anew, even if your ex-wife wants you dead, the IRS is looking for you and your landlord is ready to toss you out.

Manos and Schultz are asking fans to pony up to deliver custom content with a highly fan-centric approach. Get your name on the credits, get your script covered or just get a T-shirt… every little bit helps bring the carefully drawn characters to life! If Jimmy Stones is victorious, you’ll catch about a dozen episodes online and Manos and Schultz hope it’ll be on your television set, too.

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So What Do You Do, Arienne Thompson, Entertainment Reporter at USA Today?

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Arienne Thompson‘s head is filled with golden pop-culture nuggets. But unlike most people who live and breathe all things celebrity, from Kimye’s fashion choices to Taylor Swift‘s relationship status, it’s her job to obsess over the minute details of celebrities’ lives. And there’s nothing she’d rather be doing. As an entertainment reporter at USA Today, Thompson knows who’s dating who, who wore what where and who’s got beef on everyone from Justin Beiber to Blake Lively to Beyoncé, so she can give pop-culture fiends their daily fix.

She spills the tea in the pages of the nation’s No. 1 newspaper in daily circulation, in USA Today‘s DailyDish vlog, and in the pages of USA Weekend, the paper’s weekend magazine. Sound cool? It is. But don’t get it twisted. Entertainment reporting is not for the faint of heart. You have to go hard. “You cannot be scared or shy or a wallflower. You can’t be psychotic — well, sometimes you have to be a little psychotic — but you have to be so aggressive,” Thompson explains.

Here, she serves up the scoop on how she went from being an extra in an America’s Most Wanted reenactment to being a sought-after pop-culture expert. 

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So What Do You Do, Danny Boome, Celebrity Chef and Host of Good Food America?

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The story of how professional chef and TV host Danny Boome made it onto the small screen is the kind that seems to only exist in screenplays. A chance discovery by an agent while the naturally ebullient Boome was on the job as a private chef led to a contract for his first Food Network Canada show a mere three weeks later. And from that first show, TV is where Boome knew he wanted to stay.

During the past decade, Boome’s work in food television has taken him across three continents as host, correspondent and food fixer for the culinarily challenged on shows such as Food Network’s Rescue Chef, ABC’s The Chew and Recipe Rehab. Although he transferred his culinary skills to television, Boome lives by the idea that he’s “never not a chef.” In each of his on-screen roles, Boome has used his professional training to “interpret” and transform recipes and techniques for the “everychef.” This time around, however, what Boome discovered while producing his current show, Good Food America on Z Living, is how it would transform him.

Boome spoke with Mediabistro about the state of food programming, what he’s learned doing food TV and why his new show makes him so passionate. Read more

So What Do You Do, Amelia McDonell-Parry, Editor-in-Chief of TheFrisky.com?

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Amelia McDonell-Parry, editor-in-chief of the popular women’s lifestyle site TheFrisky.com, is probably the last person you’d expect to find at a men’s magazine like Maxim. And yet, McDonell-Parry’s career path has taken plenty of unexpected twists and turns, from her early days as an intern at Jane to scoring her first gig at Rolling Stone, to her current position heading up TheFrisky.

Here, McDonell-Parry talks about the surprising office culture at Maxim, going up against censorship at Turner and how she finally got past her fear of failure.

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Mashable’s Lauren Drell on Branded Content’s Backstory

Lauren-Drell-Article Lauren Drell knows what you think about branded content; she’s read the studies. That awareness of what will and won’t turn readers off in this tricky sphere drives her editorial decision-making.

She’s had a lot of time to think about what works, having been of member of the team since 2009, when the department was called sponsored content. For our latest So What Do You Do feature, Drell spoke with Mediabistro about how Mashable, and her department, have changed since she arrived:

When I started, we did not want to do any integration; it was sponsorship of editorial content. I always said, ‘Our readers are going to rebel against it,’ and while we’ve now gotten a little more comfortable with some integration, the branded content we create is never about the brand. There might be product placement, but we’re never going to be touting the brand itself.

For more, read: So What Do You Do, Lauren Drell, Branded Content Editor at Mashable?

So What Do You Do, Noah Rosenberg, Founder, CEO and EIC of Narratively?

Noah-Rosenberg-Article If there’s anything you should get from Noah Rosenberg‘s story, it’s that you should probably keep a notebook next to your bed — the brilliant thought that strikes you just before shut-eye could very well turn into a viable business. In Rosenberg’s case, his feverish, middle-of-the-night scribblings became Narratively, a multimedia platform dedicated to the human interest, slow-burn storytelling he’d always had a passion for and feared would disappear along with shrinking newsroom resources. He still has that notebook, by the way.

Narratively recently celebrated its two-year anniversary and so much has been accomplished since it first appeared on the Web. The site was placed on Time‘s “50 Best Websites of 2013″ within a year of its launch, its contributors have been approached for book deals, iconic pieces like “The Secret Life of a Manhattan Doorman” have attracted Hollywood’s attention, brands reach out to members of Narratively’s network of about 1,000 freelancers for high-quality content production, and people around the globe continue to flock to Narratively to read and watch its original content.

And of course Rosenberg is brimming with more and more ideas to tap into an even broader audience. Think spinoff sites like Narratively [Insert Name of Major City Here], Narratively Sports, Narratively Tech, or Narratively Food; iPhone and Android apps; Narratively Film Studios; a book; and more. “I think because of our ability to find these stories in unlikely places and to really tell these stories in a beautiful, meaningful way, we’re finding this wealth of opportunity, and we’re really excited about what the future will hold.” Rosenberg chats with Mediabistro about his on-the-job journalism training, Narratively’s beginnings and his plans for expansion.

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So What Do You Do, Jeff Macke, Author and Investment Reporter for Yahoo Finance?

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The media world is filled with personalities who started out in other fields entirely and were able to use their previous experience to break into TV news or publishing. For Jeff Macke, the reverse was true: when he started writing on investment site The Motley Fool in the 1990s, he saw it as a way to advance his career in finance. That’s when he discovered a need he could address: spot information holes and fill them. When Macke looks at a stock, he sees its backstory: where a company has been, where it’s headed, what it’s doing right, what it’s doing wrong. That ability to see the story behind the symbols on the rolling stock ticker, combined with an innate on-screen comfort, made him a natural fit for the world of stock punditry. Soon, the former hedge fund manager found himself making the jump from finance show guest to one of the founding hosts of CNBC’s Fast Money.

Now a reporter on Yahoo Finance, and with a new book, Clash of the Financial Pundits, co-authored with Joshua Brown, under his belt, Macke still views himself as a trader exploring the intricacies, trend lines and possibilities of various investments, albeit publicly. And because his stock tips and investment advice are playing out in front of an audience, Macke sees a dual mission for his work as “trying to educate and inform at the same time.”

Macke talks with Mediabistro about how hosting on a digital site differs from broadcast TV and how he follows his own instinct and curiosity as a way to stand out from the competition.

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So What Do You Do, Reggie Ossé, Host of The Combat Jack Show?

Combat-Jack-WP-artReggie Ossé (more commonly known as Combat Jack) has a devotion to and passion for his craft that is undeniable. And it’s likely why his weekly hip-hop culture podcast The Combat Jack Show attracts listeners as wide-ranging as a 70-year-old “ride-or-die” fan and two-time Academy Award nominee Jonah Hill. He and his motley crew of singular personalities discuss hip-hop, culture and current events, and interview their guests honestly, with an entertaining mix of equal parts irreverence and respect. The show recently incited some media furor because an episode with retired NYPD Deputy Inspector Corey Pegues revealed his criminal past — controversial to some, but standard fare to those familiar with his show’s candor.

A former entertainment attorney whose past clients include industry heavyweights like Jay Z and Diddy, Ossé remembers driving his kids to school in the mornings and listening to former Hot 97 host Star and thinking, ‘I wish I could do that. I wish I was as brave and fearless and carefree.’ Walking away from his law practice to pursue a more creative path initially meant writing a book, then spinning captivating behind-the-scene yarns on his blog Daily Mathematics, and then eventually co-hosting The Combat Jack Show, where it’s clear that he is having the time of his life bringing the stories of people he admires to the world.

Here, Ossé shares his advice on making it in the podcast world and offers wisdom on how to make your passion your reality.

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