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Posts Tagged ‘Sara Benincasa’

4 Questions For Media Panel Moderator Extraordinaire Sara Benincasa

sara.jpgAt mediabistro.com’s Dessert and Discourse event for women’s magazine editors earlier this month, moderator Sara Benincasa guided the conversation about digital content creation with humor and an expert command of the issues at hand.

At one point she warned all of the women in attendance that “the cattiness” was about to come out as she asked panelists to talk about specific Web sites that were doing things wrong.

Benincasa, a stand up comedienne known for her side-splitting impressions of Sarah Palin during the election last year, has more moderating duties on tap. This week, she’ll lead a panel at Mediabistro’s UGCX conference in New York on entertainment media on the Web, featuring blip.tv’s co-founder Justin Day and director of content development Eric Mortensen.

Benincasa took time out of her busy work schedule to talk to FishbowlNY about her career, her life as a media panel moderator and where you can find her beyond the mediabistro.com stage.

FishbowlNY: How did you get into stand up comedy?

Sara Benincasa: I was doing my masters degree in education at Teachers College at Columbia, and I felt confused and scared because I didn’t have the passion for teaching that my classmates and professors displayed. I remember crying in a seminar one day and admitting, “I just don’t know if I belong here.” It’s a wonderful community, but I knew I couldn’t live up to its legacy and to the aptitude of my peers. One of my peers happened to have just quit her job at Comedy Central, and she pulled me aside after class one day and suggested I try stand-up comedy. I guess she thought I had funny comments about No Child Left Behind and lesson plan design. Which I did, because both of those things are inherently HILARIOUS. So my first gig was opening for two professional comics at an event sponsored by the United Nations and the Rockefeller Foundation during International Women’s Week 2006. I got paid $40 and thought that meant you got paid for every set you did in stand-up. Oh, how wrong I was.

I did jokes about the differences between Hindi, Urdu and Farsi, and I killed with the Middle Eastern and subcontinental Asian grad students in the crowd. And when you’ve got that crowd on your side, you can take over the world.

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Mediabistro Course

Travel Writing

Travel WritingStarting September 23, learn how to turn your travel stories into published essays and articles! Taught by a former Vanity Fair staff writer, James Sturz will teach you how to report, interview, and find sources, discover story ideas and pitch them successfully, and understand what travel editors look for in a story. Register now! 

Party Photos: Monday’s Mediabistro Women’s Magazine Editors Panel

dessert panel.jpg

From left: Hearst‘s Nicole Stagg, Jennifer Salant of Glam Media, Newser.com‘s Caroline Miller, Caroline Little CEO North America of Guardian News & Media, Lonny founder Michelle Adams and comedienne Sara Benincasa

Monday night Mediabistro.com hosted Dessert & Discourse, a panel and discussion for women’s magazine editors.

While panelists and attendees talked about the digital future of the magazine industry, our photographer clicked away. Now you can see all the photos here.

VIDEO: Women’s Magazine Editors Lead The New Media Movement

Learning To Take A Risk: Mag Editors Meet To Discuss The Move From Print To Digital

dessert.jpgThe move from print to digital publications was the topic of the moment at mediabistro.com’s annual event for women’s magazine editors last night at ilili. (But really, isn’t it the topic of the moment at every media event these days?)

On hand to discuss were some female leaders in the digital field: Michelle Adams, the founder of new online shelter magazine Lonny; Caroline Little, former CEO of The Washington Post Co.’s digital side and current CEO of North America for Guardian News & Media; Newser co-founder and editor-in-chief Caroline Miller; Glam Media’s Jennifer Salant and founding editor of Hearst‘s Delish.com and RealBeauty.com, Nicole Stagg. We also ran into lots of online editors like Betsy Fast from InStyle.com and Julie Hochheiser from Seventeen.com (now senior Web editor of Hearst‘s Teen Network) and we shared a table with Folio Associate Editor Vanessa Voltolina, WWD Senior Accessories Editor Roxanne Robinson-Escriout, BusinessWeek.com Community Editor Diane Brady and Barbara Brody and Annemarie Conte from Woman’s Day.

Over dessert and coffee, moderator Sara Benincasa steered the conversation on topics about the changing face of content in the digital space, monetizing content like video and some of the challenges facing an industry that needs to change the way it thinks in order to survive.

Here are some highlights from last night’s discussion:

When asked what metrics are most important to them, all of the panelists said they were concerned with “engagement.”

“I usually look at page views or time spent on the site, although when looking at page views I’ll focus on how much content each person is reading,” Stagg said. “We want to deliver impressions.”

“The fantastic number of numbers are overwhelming,” Miller added. “It’s terrifying that you know way to much about what people are doing. With print magazines, you know so little. Online, you know so much it can be debilitating.”

Later, Miller called print advertising “a big con” because you can’t tell if anyone is actually noticing it and basing decisions on it, yet print advertising is much more expensive for marketers to buy than digital ads, which can provide real time metrics.

Panelists were also asked if they would ever consider setting up a paywall or subscriber-based model for their sites. The answer: a resounding no.

Little said paywalls are “bad news for news.” However, she thought up one example where paying for content would attract readers. “If I needed to read about one topic and every day I searched through several news sources for information about this topic and instead it could be delivered in a quick and easy way, I would be willing to pay for that. Because it would save me time,” she said.

The panelists also agreed they would prefer provocative content that generated comments, even if it was only provocative in order to draw commenters. “The commenters are often as interesting as the content,” Miller said.

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Women’s Mag Editors Meet To Discuss Launching Online Publications

mb mag editors.jpgOn Monday, mediabistro.com is holding its annual event for senior level women’s magazine and online editors. Every year the invite-only event brings together women working in the industry to swap stories and compare experiences. Its panels have previously featured editors in chief like Janice Min and Cindi Leive.

But this year, due to the significant changes that have occurred in the past year in the media and magazine worlds, the event is welcoming high profile editors who have left print publications to launch online publications — with a few representing this growing group by speaking on a panel at the event.

The event, which will include a networking cocktail hour with the panel held afterward over dessert, will feature panelists Caroline Little, the CEO of Guardian North America; Caroline Miller, the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Newser; Nicole Stagg, founding editor of Hearst‘s new beauty focused Web site RealBeauty.com; Jennifer Salant, VP of business development at Glam Media and Michelle Adams, a former editor at the now-defunct Domino who recently launched online shelter and lifestyle magazine, Lonny.

The whole event will be emceed by comedienne Sara Benincasa, who gained national notorteity last year thanks to her Sarah Palin impersonations. Benincasa will keep panelists on track with discussions about current projects, the challenges of online content, the benefits of leading an online pub, incorporating multimedia and what all of these new digital publications mean for print editors’ futures.

Attendees will also be encouraged to discuss pressing topics with tablemates, thanks to discussion topics provided at each table. “It’s something we do every year and everyone really likes it,” explained Carmen Scheidel, director of education, events and multimedia content at Mediabistro, who planned the event. “It’s like an ice breaker that’s not corny.”

Between the cocktails, dessert and free-flowing discussion, it sounds like everyone has lots of fun at these events, year after year. Don’t believe us? Check out some pictures from last year.

Although the event is closed to the public, it’s not to late for you to grab a seat. Senior level magazine or online editors can email mediabistro’s events department for ticket information.

Sara Benincasa Does Sarah Palin

This is New York comedian Sara Benincasa as republican VP nominee Sarah Palin.

Our thanks to Buzzfeed.

“Will you be my vice presidential running mate and I said, ‘Who is this?’”