All posts tagged: Media

You Better Work: My First Boss and Ru-Paul

On RuPaul’s book tour (Photos courtesy of the author) My first job out of college was as an assistant to a publicist at Hyperion, a “boutique” publishing house owned by a quaint corporation called The Walt Disney Company. We had ID cards with a Mickey Mouse hologram on them. Seriously. My boss, Jennifer, was a tall, brassy, 27-year-old woman who somehow seemed as old to me as one of the Golden Girls. She was fierce, whip smart, and a little bit scary. Jen liked a large iced coffee and a toasted cinnamon raisin bagel with butter, which I ordered for her every morning. This was back when people ate bagels. She taught me to take a thorough phone message. To grill the “freelance book reviewers” trying to get free review copies. To massage the egos of the needier authors and only get her out of “a meeting” if it was someone specific. She taught me to pitch reporters, the most awkward and agonizing part of publicity work. While at Hyperion, Disney was bought by ABC, …

6 Things I Learned Tracking the First Jobs of Famous Folk

Photo (Stocksy.com) Everyone gets a start in the working world somewhere. So, as the Money editor at Reuters, I thought it would be interesting to use the monthly jobs report released by the U.S. Department of Labor as a springboard talk to notable people about their very first gigs. (For non-financial types, the jobs report is by far the most closely watched economic gauge of the U.S. economy’s health.) After all, no matter how famous or powerful they have become, all of us remember the first moment of bringing home the bacon. Here is what I’ve learned from editing three years’ worth of first job stories: 1. Many people got their start delivering newspapers It sounds so old-timey, but the list includes MSNBC’s Chris Matthews, baseball legend Ron Darling and financial wizard Warren Buffett. However, so far no one has mentioned being chased by a dog. 2. Many more of them worked in restaurants Fredrik Eklund of Million Dollar Listing New York, Olympic gold medalist Carmelita Jeter, football star Damien Woody, Wheel of Fortune’s Vanna …

And Still I Rise: Answering the Midnight Muse

3:27 a.m. That’s what time she woke me up this morning. Two days ago, she woke me up at 3:49 a.m. Today? Tomorrow? Who knows. I’m talking about the writing muse — that seductive voice that whispers in my ear when an idea strikes me, and I’m compelled to jot it down, explore it. My Muse comes in many forms: a memory, a feeling, a longing, a joke  As a non-fiction writer working on a memoir, I welcome my muse. I need her.  I love her. Just not at 3 a.m. in the morning. At first I would fight her. Wait it out. Lie in bed, unable to go back to sleep but refusing to move. Or I’d turn on the television; its bluish glare illuminating my darkened bedroom. Now I know better. Now I give in. Now I know that nothing will satisfy the early morning mystery except my writing. So I’m prepared. Before I go to bed I make sure I know where my laptop is. Or my legal pad and pen. Or my journal. …

Why Don’t We Trust the Institutions We Create?

In June of 2017, the Gallup organization conducted its “CONFIDENCE IN INSTITUTIONS” poll, which it has been conducting pretty much every year since 1973. And this year, despite what you might expect would be some sort of pre-apocalyptic low water mark in America’s trust in institutions, our trust in general went up. Specifically, it went up 3 percent. The poll measures confidence in 14 major public institutions — from public schools to banks to labor unions to the Supreme Court to police to big business to small business to newspapers to television news to churches to the military to the medical system and, yes, measuring trust in Congress and the presidency as well. The fine people at Gallup found that in 2016 just 32 percent of the American people on average said they trusted these institutions. A year later — this is THIS YEAR — we now trust these institutions 3 percent more or a WHOPPING 35 percent. Now, you may be thinking — as I was when I encountered this data — that WHOA, that 35 percent …

The Magic of the Bitch and Swap

Long ago in the 1990s, when I was a freelance magazine writer, I never had enough of anything — money, love, other people, and of course, clothing. I worked alone in my West Village apartment and most of my reporting was done by telephone. I rigorously scheduled social engagements at night, from dates to drinks with a friend, or a book party or reading or a real party or a fake PR party at a handbag store. If I didn’t speak to a real person face to face at least once a day, I felt myself fading from the human race. It was a time of living between no money, some money and family-begged money. I was actually fairly successful as a writer, but felt like an abject, obvious failure. I was consumed with fear that I would never meet a man whom I could marry and who would marry me. The latter was the bigger fear. It was a terribly lonely and scary stretch of years, despite the many, many parties. It was good, …

The Woman Who Taught Me to Chase After My “Big Life”

The room was quiet. Ann Shoket, Editor-in-Chief of Seventeen, had just finished giving a keynote address to a room full of hundreds of young women at a HerCampus conference in midtown Manhattan. When she asked for questions, you could feel the room hesitate. What do you say to someone who you’ve looked up to for over five years? I was an upcoming senior in college, and something in me knew this was my chance to start planting seeds for my dream job — becoming Ann’s assistant. I raised my hand, not really even knowing what I was going to say, and managed to ask, “Ann, considering what everyone is saying about the magazine industry right now, what would you say to parents like mine who worry about me chasing my dreams of becoming a magazine editor?” She started to answer and then paused. “Do you want to record this to send to your parents?” she asked. I pulled out my phone and, with a shaky hand, recorded an answer I will always remember: “Your job …

My Company Sank and Nearly Took My Morals With It

I’ve never been afraid of failure. I always think of the potential for failure as pure “dare”—and can’t resist staring it straight in the face to see if I can beat it. I always thought this was a noteworthy trait of mine, a good trait. Hell, I even gave speeches about the benefits of not being afraid of failing: learning, experience, trying out innovative ideas, pushing your boundaries, surprising yourself. The trick, I say in those speeches, is to pick good failures, failures that give you more than you lose, whether insights or learning or experiences or, heck, even just great friends or one helluva a good story. You weigh the pros of what you might achieve and accomplish against what the worst-case scenario might be and say: Can I live with the worst, if it comes to that? I had always taken risks in publishing, tried to do things people said “couldn’t be done,” made things from scratch without enough money or enough time or enough team or all three. I did these things, …

Margit’s Note: It’s a Flop!

It’s really hard running a website. No, it ain’t brain surgery, as a favorite colleague used to remind me at AOL (no comment). But even for someone who has a gazillion years experience running editorial teams for dot coms, there are days when you want to hit the big red “delete all posts NOW” button. It’s especially hard when it’s your baby. Your own creation. Your side gig. Your passion project. Your potential business. Your “Hey!! Look over here! Don’t you want to pay me to do this? You know you do.” Wink wink. Hip flick. Google Analytics tells you no one liked that “PETS” issue, you’re on your sixth Art Director (because your vision, their vision and your micro-manage-y approach has led to you making Picmonkey art at the last minute…more than once) and three people have unsubscribed from your newsletter. I speak theoretically, of course. The grind of a weekly publication is no joke. But then, the next sunshine-y day, you get a traffic bonanza for a meaningful essay, 50 people attend your …

From High-Powered Exec to Pilates Instructor — Am I Happier?

You hear about those folks who eschew corporate America — who just bail and find some trade that makes him or (more likely) her happier, more fulfilled, less angry. You envy them at times. Maybe you crave to do what they’ve done. Perhaps you have a plan to do the same at a certain age or net worth. I’m that girl. I did that. I used to be a media executive. I made the big bucks. I was a Senior Vice President at several major media companies: Scripps Networks Interactive (aka, the parent of Food Network and HGTV), Discovery Communications and Time, Inc. Having started my media career later than many (I did odd stuff until I arrived to it at 30), I ascended fairly quickly. I was a VP by 35 for a high-profile company, Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia. (Fun fact: I started the week after she got out of prison.) Among other things, I had teams under me numbering over 100 people and managed P&Ls in the multi-millions. I was a kind of …

How A Fox News Feminist Changed Things From the Inside Out

Fun fact: I never considered myself a “feminist.” I hated the word as well as the connotations it suggested. But my mother — my biggest fan and toughest critic — changed all of that. She, too, started out as a reluctant feminist.  Sure she believed in women’s rights. Yet, when she came to the United States, she strived to be the opposite: a quiet Indian immigrant, existing between the lines as a med school resident, striving to be the best doctor she could be, but never questioning authority or stirring the pot. That was until the director of Yale School of Medicine told her she could be chief resident if she was more assertive. “Assertive” meant she was committed. “Committed” was a direct shot to chief resident, and “chief resident” meant she would be the BEST.  She would be granted access to what was known as the “Vatican” of Yale medical school. At 27 years old, she would have instant street cred, clout and a possible bump in salary. It also meant she could cut …

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My Rock Bottom Came in a Pretty Dress and Heels

God bless the busted boat that brings us back.” — Jason Isbell, “New South Wales” Here’s what you should know about this do-over: Everything and nothing changed. In my 30s, I had everything I ever thought I wanted. I was a travel editor, catching planes and writing stories about the next great city or restaurant or artisanal cocktail. I had this fancy job, which I’d worked my entire life for, and a family and a home. But while I tweeted images of beach views and carefully plated food, I was also drinking a bottle or more of wine a night. Sometimes I passed out. Sometimes I couldn’t remember things, and I often had unexplainable bruises. By day, dressed in a pink shift dress and gold heels, I gave talks about nimble new media strategies. By night – it was another story. I drank to deal with my anxiety. I drank to deal with my physical limitations. I drank to deal with never “being enough.” I drank to slow my brain when I was enough. I …

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Are Journalists Allowed to Be Fans?

When I was starting out my career in the ’90s working as a business journalist, the rule was always be in the background of (and not part of) the story. The first-person voice-y thing was for the columnists — and if you were doing that and weren’t one, you were clearly a novice reporter in her first weeks on the job. Worse, if you were a fan of a subject’s work or their mission, showing your hand beyond a detached view of why their company might be good for society — or, really, shareholders — was a nonstarter. This went double if you were a person in her ’20s covering complex topics. Note that this was before the ubiquity of blogging and disruption. The old order reigned, and it didn’t exactly revere lack of years of experience and naïve exuberance. In turn, neither did I. #Judgy This worldview of mine took a little time to coalesce. One incident that helped it along happened when I returned from a reporting trip where I was trailing an entrepreneur who …

The “Vision Thing”: How to Un-See Yourself

I’m a starter. A person who starts things, makes things. I’m a little bit addicted to the blank page, the open field, the undefined future. In my career as a magazine editor, I was a part of four start-ups and led the rebirths of two magazines. I’ve written one book and am at work on another, lining up words and ideas and moving them around the page until they eventually add up to a focused emotional experience. Seeing what isn’t yet there and building it? That’s my specialty. But I want to share a secret about how to have “vision” — a talent that is generally attributed to a person’s having unusual creativity; the ability to pull, seemingly from thin air, an idea that is so relevant and alive we can’t resist it. It seems like vision is magic — yanking the rabbit out of a hat — but for me, my vision has always come from a very simple and readily available resource: seeing people in the world around me very, very clearly. Remember …

Women Who Inspire: Melissa Harris-Perry

                  NAME: Melissa Harris-Perry AGE: 44 OCCUPATION: Host of the Melissa Harris-Perry show on MSNBC WHO SHE IS: Sure she had her mea culpa recently, but it doesn’t change the fact that Melissa Harris-Perry is one of the most well-informed news anchors on television (or, as The Atlantic put it, “the smartest nerd in the room”). She approaches news with intelligence, compassion, and humor, and her unique spin on politics, race, women’s issues and anything else she has to say, always keeps me riveted. She is also the mother of two girls (on Valentine’s day she gave birth to daughter number two). WHY SHE INSPIRES ME: Melissa is one of the smartest, most knowledgable and personable people on television; she never ceases to amaze me. I love hearing her unique spin on politics, race, women’s issues and anything else she has to say. Luckily for me, she’s active on social media, so I can follow her on Twitter and hope that some of her brilliance will rub off on me!  

Women Who Inspire: Robin Wolaner

NAME: Robin Wolaner AGE: 59 OCCUPATION: CEO, Vittana, a nonprofit that pioneers loans for students in developing countries WHO SHE IS:  She founded the wildly popular and prescient Parenting magazine at the tender age of 31, persuading Time, Inc. to become her partner and marking the publishing giant’s first time ever investing in a joint venture start-up. Just four years later, Time, Inc. bought Wolaner’s share, making her Vice President of its Publishing Ventures division, and a millionaire. It was an unusual story, and remains one of the most popular case studies in the Harvard Business School’s first-year curriculum. Since then, Wolaner has been the COO of CNET, founded baby boomer social networking site TeeBeeDee, and been a bestselling author. WHY SHE INSPIRES  ME: At a time when women were rarely in the C-suites of tech companies, let alone sitting on high-tech boards, Robin paved the way for the rest of us to believe it was possible. I’m pretty certain that Sheryl Sandberg wouldn’t be leaning into Facebook if Robin hadn’t first leaned into CNET. After the Internet bubble imploded on itself, undaunted, …

Media & News: Women Who Inspire Us

[column size=”one-third”] Amanda de Cadenet By Kristin Booker “I’m constantly inspired by de Cadenet’s candor and ability to inspire women to help each other. She’s unafraid to show her own struggles with everything from former addictions to body image.”… Read about why she inspires us   [/column] [column size=”one-third”] Hoda Kotb By Heather M. Graham “She kept going she says, because ‘I do think if you are tenacious, somebody will hire you.’”… Read about why she inspires us   [/column] [column size=”one-third” last=”true”] Cindi Leive By Robin Marshall “She tweets from the runways of Milan…and she cooks up Super Bowl chili for 40 guests, hosts raucous sleepovers for rascally eight-year old boys.”… Read about why she inspires us [/column] [column size=”one-third”] Elizabeth Vargas By Susan Linney “As a women in recovery myself (and as one who writes openly about my illness), Vargas is a not only a role model, but a constant reminder of the importance of truth.”… Read about why she inspires us [/column] [column size=”one-third”] Christine Haubeggar By Mercedes Cardona “Long before publishers knew that putting J. Lo …

Women Who Inspire: Elizabeth Vargas

                NAME: Elizabeth Vargas AGE: 51 OCCUPATION: Anchor of ABC’s 20/20 and primary host of ABC News specials WHO SHE IS: Elizabeth Vargas is a seasoned television journalist, as well as the first woman since Connie Chung to anchor a network evening newscast in the U.S. (She’s also the first woman of Puerto Rican and Irish-American heritage to anchor a nightly newscast period). She’s also an alcoholic. I don’t believe Vargas would mind me mentioning the latter — in January of 2014, she went public with her illness, after spending years struggling with and hiding her disease from her employers, friends and family. Her admission set off a blast of both media scrutiny and public admiration, however she’s remained steadfast in her resolve, even prompting the often impenetrable Barbara Walters to apologize for a comment she made regarding Vargas’ behavior while she was still drinking. WHY SHE INSPIRES ME: As a women in recovery myself (and one who writes openly about my illness), Vargas is a not only a role …

Women Who Inspire: Christy Haubegger

                  NAME: Christy Haubegger AGE: 45 OCCUPATION: Executive, Creative Artists Agency (CAA) and founder of Latina magazine WHO SHE IS: In 1996, long before publishers knew that putting J. Lo or Sofia Vergara on the cover would sell a magazine, the then 28-year-old law school graduate tried to fill the gap in the mass media by launching a publication aimed at U.S. Hispanic women. Latina’s success woke the publishing world to the power of Latin women and earned Haubegger kudos everywhere, from Advertising Age’s “Women to Watch” to Newsweek’s “Women of the New Century.” In the new century, Haubegger turned to another area where she felt Latinas  were not getting their due: Hollywood. She joined CAA and has been tackling the lack of diverse images of Hispanics in movies and television, working a consultant to filmmakers and actors, while continuing to serve on the board of Latina Media Ventures. WHY SHE INSPIRES ME: As a Latina and a professional, I know what it’s like to be the …

Women Who Inspire: Cindi Leive

NAME: Cindi Leive AGE: 46 OCCUPATION: Editor-in-chief, Glamour magazine WHO SHE IS: Cindi Leive has been on many “40 under 40” and “most powerful women” lists. She oversees the editorial content of a mega-magazine, has driven circulation to record levels and has earned an unprecedented number of awards, including a White House Project EPIC Award, a Matrix Award from Women in Communications and a Champion of Choice Award from NARAL-NY for her coverage of women’s health. She tweets from the runways of Milan and lunches with Jason Wu and Brian Atwood. And though professionally she is indeed remarkable, that’s not why she’s on this list. WHY SHE INSPIRES ME: As a neighbor and friend, the Cindi I know is most often in jeans or running tights — without makeup and sans entourage. She cooks up Super Bowl chili for 40 guests and hosts raucous sleepovers for rascally eight-year old boys. She is funny, thoughtful and totally comfortable in her own skin. Even if I didn’t know about her other life as a powerhouse editor, I’d still …

Women Who Inspire: Hoda Kotb

                  NAME: Hoda Kotb AGE: 49 OCCUPATION: NBC’s TODAY show co-host WHO SHE IS: Hoda Kotb is a funny and charming co-host, one who sings to her favorite songs and talks about the pitfalls of dating in New York City. She’s also been a globetrotting journalist, as well as a Dateline correspondent since 1998. Kotb has reported from war zones, covered the year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina from New Orleans and, led by rebel fighters, snuck into Burma to get the full story on 12-year-old twin warriors said to have magical powers. She is a four-time Emmy nominee, has won an Edward R. Murrow Award, a Peabody, a Gracie Award (among others), and is a New York Times bestselling author. WHY SHE INSPIRES IN ME: It’s not just her accomplishments, it’s how Kotb started out in the business. The Virginia Tech graduate went on an interview at a local TV station in Richmond, was turned down, but given a lead in another market where the same thing happened. Kotb found herself …