Canadian media powerhouse, currently working as the President and Editor-in-Chief of HollywoodLife.com
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
I was a magazine Editor-in-Chief & then Editorial Director for multiple magazines for over 25 years, and it was clear to me for the last several that my audience was increasingly abandoning print media and turning to digital. My readers had always been young women and it was clear that they could no longer wait to get their news in weekly or monthly magazines. They wanted it immediately and at their fingertips. I decided to quit my job as Editorial Director of American Media and find a way to launch an entertainment, celebrity and pop culture digital news site for young women. Fortunately, I met Jay Penske, CEO of Penske Media, and we partnered to create HollywoodLife.com which launched 7.5 years ago.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
My typical days are focused on covering news from the moment I wake up to when I finally get to bed. We have writers, reporters and photo editors working from 6:30 AM ET to after 2 AM ET. I check news alerts as soon as I wake up for any breaking news that happened overnight and as I get ready for work I am in touch with our early morning team, deciding on what we’ll cover first. A couple days a week, I get up extra early to fit in a workout before I head to the office and on other days, I try to workout after work before heading to an evening event or home. Once in the office, I work with our terrific team of HollywoodLife.com editors, writers and reporters to cover all the news that we think are of greatest interest and importance to our mainly female readers in their 20s and 30s. We post over 100 times a day. We work hard to break exclusive news stories every day. We have a reporting meeting around noon every day. We recently broke the news that Cristiano Ronaldo’s girlfriend was pregnant with his 4th child and that Beyonce was about to announce her recent pregnancy with the twins. Our entertainment team is constantly working to get exclusive interviews with TV, Film and Music stars, and to get exclusive preview clips and trailers.
We have our own in-house video team, which produces 4-5 exclusive videos a day, including celebrity interviews. Celebrities come by the NYC and LA offices several times a week for video and podcast interviews. I usually record two HollywoodLife.com podcasts a week. One is a celebrity interview — recent guests have been Derek Hough, Kenny Ortega, Raven Symone and Bow Wow — and the other is always a lively discussion of up-to-the-moment celebrity and entertainment news. Every week I have outside meetings or lunches/breakfasts with TV, film and celebrity personal publicists, with other media members or I might be on an industry panel or moderating one. Evenings are sometimes the busiest part of the day with all the TV shows or award shows that we are covering. I try and watch the shows that are big favorites for our audience, like all the Bachelor Nation shows, The Voice, World of Dance and Game of Thrones… plus The Daily Show and Stephen Colbert. It’s exhausting but exhilarating!
WHAT’S YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE?
I work on a large screen Mac at the office with a second monitor. I go everywhere with an iPad, an iPhone, and a phone charger. Travel with a MacBook Air, 13 inch. In terms of news, Twitter is my most important App and I’m signed up for alerts from a constantly growing group of entertainment and celebrity news sites, plus hard news sites.
WHAT DO YOU DO OR GO TO GET INSPIRED?
I am inspired constantly by the news: news that celebrities break themselves all the time now, news from the political scene which tremendously affects young women today. I’m constantly surprised by the news that you could never have made up in a million years. And then there is news created by television, film and by the music that artists are creating. For example, when Beyonce dropped ‘Lemonade,’ she made news by surprising the world with a video album, then by revealing her marital problems with JAY-Z as well as her making news by singing about her quest to understand her racial and cultural identity. I find all of this inspiring.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
“New rules” & “The Reader Rules.” It’s so important to keep in mind constantly that we are creating HollywoodLife.com every day to serve the needs of our readers. Our job is to inform, entertain, and help our readers lead their best lives. We are writing and reporting for them. And they want “news.” They like to be the first to know when something significant breaks in the news whether it’s Julianne Hough getting married, Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna getting into an Instagram battle, or Donald Trump insulting Morning Joe’s Mika Brzezinski by claiming she was bleeding from a face lift.
WHAT IS THE PASSIONATE PROBLEM YOU ARE TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
Diversifying our platforms of content distribution and distribution partners plus multiplying the ways we distribute content through video, our newsletters, podcast and more.
ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS JUST STARTING OUT?
My advice for young journalists is to take the basics way more seriously than most do. Spelling! Grammar! Fact-checking! These matter more than ever since few digital operations have copy editors or fact checkers. Yet, few grads of journalism school seem to realize how important these basics are. Then there are the 5 “W’s” that must go into stories or news videos! Who, what, why, when, where? I also think every young journalist must pick up the phone and go out and get onto the news scene. You can’t conduct a good interview over email and it’s amazing how much you can learn by going to the scene of a news or entertainment event. “You go & you get!”