19 Journalists Share Their Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

Yitzi Weiner
Apr 13, 2018 · 39 min read

By Yitzi Weiner and Daniele Robay

This week, many observed Equal Pay Day. Over the past 100 years, women have made great strides and have broken many barriers. However as we celebrate these accomplishments, we still have to acknowledge the fact that we still have a long way to go to achieve parity and equality between the sexes. Even in 2017, women generally make 80 cents for every dollar a man makes.

In the article below we want to acknowledge the accomplishments of nearly “20 Women in Journalism”. We asked each of them to share their top suggestions to succeed as a journalist.

Judy Kurtz, In the Know Gossip Columnist, The Hill

My Background In Journalism

Judy Kurtz is the In the Know gossip columnist for The Hill, the news source of record for policy influencers inside and outside Washington, where she covers Congress, the District’s nightlife and social scene, celebrities, and politics.

Kurtz, who also serves as a contributor for E! News/E! Online, has appeared on several local, national and international news outlets, including MSNBC, HLN, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, Extra, Inside Edition, Sky News, Canada’s Sun Network, The Insider, WRC-TV, and SiriusXM satellite radio. She can also be heard as a regular commentator on WTOP-FM and is a former contributor on Washington’s Fox 5/WTTG-TV.

Before making the move to The Hill, Kurtz — who teaches Entertainment Reporting at Georgetown University — worked as a television reporter for WBFF-TV/FOX45 in Baltimore, Md. She also covered entertainment and technology as a blogger for Starpulse.com.

Kurtz, a D.C. native, previously reported for WJLA-TV/NewsChannel 8 in Washington and hosted the station’s daily Newsburst entertainment and news webcast.

A graduate of New York University and Georgetown University, Kurtz’s career began with a stint at People magazine.

Kurtz has made Washington Life magazine’s Young and the Guest List the last four years in a row.

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

Get Your Foot in the Door

The hardest part of breaking into journalism is breaking into journalism (see what I did there?). Offer to meet news directors for coffee, pitch an editor you’ve never met on a story idea, and do whatever it takes to burst through the countless reel tapes and résumés that flood the desks of managers at news organizations. If you get offered a job, even if it’s not your dream gig, take it, and work your way into the role you want.

Stay Hungry (and not in a crash diet kind of way)

Pick up the weekend shift that no one volunteered for, make the additional phone call for your story, get in the office early to get a head-start on the headlines — in other words, go the extra mile and always strive to do better. Remember, by becoming complacent you could risk losing your coveted gig in journalism.

Find a Mentor

There are a ton of smart cookies in the journalism world, so learn from them! Find someone whose work you admire, a co-worker or elder stateswoman, and reach out to them for guidance about improving your craft, or navigating this tricky industry. Don’t just go to them when you need something, keep in touch when times are good, too.

Don’t Burn Bridges

Journalism is a very small world, and you never know if your frenemy from way back when is going to reappear down the long and winding career path. Only go into DEFCON 1 with a peer or boss if absolutely and utterly necessary. Burning bridges can be tricky when you might have to cross the same journalistic river with that same archenemy some day.

Be a News Junkie

Consume news like you’re first in line at the all-you-can-eat buffet. Read lots of news from different sources every day — and not just stories that focus on your beat or interest. You never know when all that knowledge could come in handy, might help with your reporting, or just make you an engaged and woke human being with a strong sense of what’s going on in the world.

Erin Robinson, Executive Producer & Entertainment Host & YouTuber At Clevver

My Background In Journalism

I’m a host and executive producer at Clevver which is one of the biggest YouTube celeb news outlets on the internet. If something in entertainment is trending, I’m probably already producing a show about it for my fellow millennial’s to watch online! I executive produce and host a daily entertainment news show called the Daily Hollywood Rundown that garners over a million views a week. I also competed in 2016 on the digital influencer season of The Amazing Race with my co-host Josyln Davis and she and I won The Price is Right and we were able to donate our winnings to charity! Thanks to the popularity of YouTube, I’ve been able to touch almost every aspect of entertainment. From interviewing celebrities to producing pop culture shows to guest hosting on television show’s like Dr.Oz, I’ve been able to find that sweet spot between entertainment journalism AND pop culture.

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

My path was a little different coming into this career. I actually did not major in journalism in college. I was on a pre-med track and felt scared jumping into a world that I didn’t study in college. Luckily, I realized that I could teach myself with some basic online courses, so don’t be discouraged if you’ve have a passion for journalism and studied something completely different. In today’s social media climate we have more access than ever before to information (for better or worse). Work on learning how to do your own research on social media and more importantly learn how to separate what’s true and what’s false. Also, say yes to as many opportunities as you can even if they don’t pay well at first. You truly never know what comes out of those freebies and you can always demand more money once you are more seasoned. I agreed to host on a red carpet once for only $20 and it was at that carpet that I met people who got me the job that I have today. Had I said no to that, I wouldn’t be where I am. And finally, train and groom people around you to be great. A lot of people can get territorial and not want to share opportunities with others. I think the more amazing people you have around you, the better your performance will be so share the love and teach what you know to others.

Nicole Behnam, Editor-In-Chief, Beyond The Interview

My Background In Journalism

Nicole Behnam is Co-Founder and Editor-In-Chief of online magazine Beyond The Interview.

Beyond The Interview features interviews with people who are experts in their fields, and also with people who are experts through life experience, which is often overlooked.

Nicole’s goal as a columnist and interviewer is to make information and news accessible, easy, and insightful — and not so complicated. She gives people the microphone, metaphorically, and helps to give their stories context.

Yes, it’s easy to sit back and rely on the old rules of journalism, but this is the digital age. Nicole uses her own curiosity, sarcasm, wit, and even her vulnerability to connect with people and help them be brutally honest about subjects they normally would feel uncomfortable talking about.

She also writes about social issues, entertainment, health and wellness, coming-of-age stories, books, and documentaries.

In her free time, she conducts focus groups with kids and teenagers about what kinds of stories interest them, and which social issues matter to them.

Nicole’s writing has been featured in The Hollywood Reporter, Los Angeles Business Journal, WestsideToday, Jewish Journal, and The Huffington Post, among other outlets. Nicole graduated from the prestigious Annenberg School of Journalism at the University of Southern California.

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

1. Save the phrases that stick out to you. Save the quotes and excerpts and links to articles that are thought-provoking or insightful. Which concepts or statistics stick out to you? A lot of what we read will help us determine our next story. Sometimes, just one sentence will lead us to recognize a theme or pattern or event that can be its own stand-alone piece.

2. Consume different perspectives before you write. You will need to consider that if you’re trying to make a point, someone will want to prove you wrong, so it’s imperative that you understand the opposing argument. Your reporting will be stronger this way.

3. Reach out in different ways to different people. These days, it’s easy to find out where people are spending their time, especially with the proliferation of social media. If you see someone you’d like to interview spends most of their time on Instagram, send them a direct message on Instagram and be direct about what you want to talk about. I’ve secured some of my best interviews this way.

4. If you want your story to be interesting, find out what people are asking. With resources like Quora, we can look around and see which specific questions people are asking about any topic. Sure, some can seem bizarre, but you will be exposed to different angles and outlooks that you’ve never thought of.

5. Your headline is important. Write (or edit) the headline last if your story is a long feature. Yes, we want a strong headline to attract readers, but sometimes as you’re editing a long story, you’ll notice a strong talking point, and the headline will click.

Kelly Anne Smith, Personal Finance Contributor, The Penny Hoarder

My Background In Journalism

Kelly Anne Smith is a writer and millennial money savings expert at The Penny Hoarder, one of the largest personal finance websites, which features interesting ways to save and make money. Kelly Anne’s career as a journalist was evident at an early age — she’ll tell you she’s been writing her whole life. Her inspiration for choosing this field of work stems from her deep desire to want to give a voice to the voiceless. After noticing the reality that people want their stories told, but oftentimes don’t know how to tell them or where, she sought out a way to tell them. Kelly Anne finds journalism fulfilling because, according to her, everyone’s story deserves the chance to be told .

She has written articles on topics ranging from 401(k) loans to socioeconomic challenges prevalent within the transgender community. Prior to joining The Penny Hoarder, Kelly Anne contributed as a writer for Creative Loafing, Neon, and The Minaret. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing from the University of Tampa. Her advice has also been featured in The Washington Post, Esquire, ATTN, Forbes and Brit+Co.. Want to connect with Kelly Anne? Catch her on Twitter @keywordkelly

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

1. Observing is just as powerful as interviewing. You don’t always need to be talking to get the story.

2. Get the brand of the beer, the name of the dog. (Ben Montgomery said in one of my college classes, and it really stuck with me. The little details are the most important when it comes to storytelling.)

3. Make time to read good writing. It’ll make yours better.

4. Ask Is there anything else you think I should know or include? when interviewing someone.

5. Always thank your sources and follow up with them when the story is published

Miriam Isa, Correspondent and Producer, Work can be seen on E! News, YouTube’s Clevver Media, and ESPN

My Background In Journalism

Miriam Isa is an on-air personality, social commentator and producer who has racked over 400 million views on YouTube in two languages across several continents. Her work can be seen across all of Clevver Media’s YouTube channels, E! News Now, ESPN Deportes, and BeIn Sport, owned by Al-Jazeera. Born in Miami to Cuban-Lebanese parents, Miriam majored in theater at New World School of the Arts High School before receiving her BA in Theatre at Florida State University. She also proudly placed in the top 5 at the Miss Florida USA pageant and went on to represent the U.S. in Miss Latina America held in Nicaragua.

Miriam’s acting has been featured in numerous TV shows, films, and theatrical plays and her voice has narrated dozens of radio and television commercials. However, it is Miriam’s insatiable curiosity that has fueled her passion for journalism. She co-launched Clevver Media’s Spanish language entertainment news channel, ‘Clevver Teve,’ which is now the #1 Spanish-language entertainment news channel on YouTube. She helped lead Clevver Teve from 0 to 7 million views per week. She has hosted, directed and produced across all of Clevver Media’s channels and is a permanent personality on some of YouTube’s most successful series, including Clevver’s ‘Cheat Day.’ She is also co-founder and co-host of ‘United States of Hysteria,’ a podcast focused on exploring and repairing social division. Miriam’s roster of interviews spans the gamet- from Academy Award recipients to political prisoners to Superbowl winners. When she is not on camera, Miriam can be found globetrotting around the world and expanding her culinary palette by trying things she cannot pronounce.

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

1. Perfect is the enemy of good. It is better to materialize your content ideas- for a podcast, a webseries, an Instagram story, an Op-Ed, anything- and at least HAVE a digital footprint of your work, than to strive for perfection. Perfection is often unattainable, especially during your first crack at something. You WILL make mistakes. You WILL publish work that years later will embarrass you. Everyone has- including your heroes and sheroes whose work seems flawless to you now. You can’t get to point B before first passing through point A. Besides, creating content is a habit, not a goal. Consistency is a key to success.

2. Don’t ask yourself What topic is trending right now? or What content idea would succeed in the current media landscape? Instead, ask yourself- WHAT ARE YOU DYING TO TALK ABOUT? What moves YOU?! It doesn’t matter if it’s been covered a 1000 times or if NO one is covering it which leads you to think it’ll flop. Honor YOUR interests. Odds are, the passion behind your work will lead to a novel angle or a unique idea.

3. Lean into your personality. Whether you’re writing an Op-Ed or shooting a vlog, no one cares about your data. They care about YOU. You are the brand. And you don’t have to figure out what your brand is. It’s not a thing you decide on. It’s the thing you already were while you were conducting your crazy poll trying to figure out what you are. Lean into your quirks, your strengths, your POV. You can’t beat Oprah at being like Oprah. And she can’t beat you at being like YOU. No one can. Phew!

4. You are a walking instrument. Refine your instrument! If you work on-camera- go to the gym. Take care of your skin. Learn what hand to hold the mic with, or how to stand in frame. Stop saying like and um. It weakens your perceived command of the English language. If you’re a writer, broaden your linguistic range. Learn more sophisticated words… and learn what the kids are saying. You will be tapping into different audiences throughout your career. You will want to speak to each in their language.

5. Don’t let internet trolls get you down. They’re evidence you’re doing something right.

Darley Newman, Host Writer & Producer, Travels with Darley

My Background In Journalism

Darley Newman is a travel expert, media entrepreneur, and author who has channeled her passions into a dream career. Through her production company, DCN Creative, she is the creator, producer, writer and host of Travels with Darley on PBS, AOL, MSN, international networks and Amazon Prime and Emmy-award-winning Equitrekking, broadcast on PBS and networks in over 85 nations. Darley has been nominated for five Daytime Emmy Awards, won two Telly Awards, been honored with the North American Travel Journalist Award for Best Travel Broadcast two years running and the Inspiring Woman Award from Women in Philanthropy and Leadership.

An award-winning travel book author, she created and starred in original digital series for Scripps Networks Interactive, Travel Like the Locals with Darley, and a series of historical travel interstitials for the Starz Networks Encore Channels. She popularized a niche genre of travel, Equitrekking, and created a series of popular travel websites dedicated to dude ranches and equestrian tourism, Equitrekking.com, Top20Ranches.com and EquitrekkingTravel.com. Getting charged by an elephant in Botswana’s Okavango Delta, whiskey tasting in Scotland, biking through Brussels, horseback riding with cowboys in South America and dining with award-winning chefs are just some of the interesting adventures Darley enjoys to help educate and excite dedicated fans and followers. She often appears as a travel expert on leading media, including The Today Show, NPR and The Weather Channel.

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

Be Authentic

The best stories are true stories, so stay true to yourself in your own work and your authenticity will shine through, making you a better journalist and storyteller.

Ask Why

Always ask why. Ask not only why in a story, but why someone else would care about this story. What makes it interesting to either a larger group or a targeted group. If you can hone in on this hook, your storytelling will resonate with audiences.

Don’t Give Up

There are always roadblocks on your professional journey and in life. Don’t let those bring you down. Look at mistakes, take what you can learn from them and move on to the next challenge. There are sometimes lots of losses before you get that win, but that makes it even sweeter.

Follow Your Passions

When you have a genuine interest in the topic you’re covering, you’ll work harder and also come across as genuine and thus elicit a better, more in depth and thoughtful response. Life is too short to not love what you do, so figure out what excites you most and what makes you curious and make that your specialty. Become an expert and don’t be afraid to call yourself one.

Lend A Helping Hand

The world is competitive, but by taking the time to help others on your road to success, you’ll find a better network of friends and colleagues, who just may return the favor when you’re in need. It only takes a few minutes to share advice, listen and be a connector for others and it pays off by not only making you feel better, but making you a better person and professional.

Hilary Sheinbaum, Freelance Writer

My Background In Journalism

Hilary Sheinbaum is a NYC-based journalist and lifestyle expert who contributes to The New York Times, USA Today, Today.com, Yahoo, Eater.com, and Us Weekly, among other publications. She covers many topics, including celebrity, food & beverage, social media, beauty, fashion, travel and lifestyle.

Hilary has been featured on FOX & Friends, The Insider, Inside Edition, NYC’s CBS, NBC, FOX, and PIX11 news stations and WSJ.com in addition to other outlets, as a Lifestyle, Entertainment, and Style Expert.

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

Pitch your weird, crazy, out-of-the-box ideas. Some of my best stories were inspired by real-life conversations between friends. If your inner circle is talking about something, chances are that other people are noticing the same trends, too. 2. Follow up with your editor. Some things, do, actually get lost in the mail. I’ve had stories approved for national outlets that definitely would have never happened if I didn’t send another note asking if my pitch was received. 3. Talk to strangers. Yes, this is the opposite of what we learn as kids, but in journalism, it’s important to get a different perspective. 4. Fact check every detail. Sometimes it’s as easy as submitting a Google search. 5. Make sure you’re learning something, for the sake of your readers. Your stories should teach your audience about the subject at hand, so make sure you’re asking questions that are providing important details!

Elspeth Brown, Co-Founder, Iron Rose Productions

My Background In Journalism

Elspeth was a ballet dancer for many years after studying at the Pittsburgh Ballet Theater, Washington Ballet, and the American Ballet Theater. In 2005, she earned degree in Theater from Hunter College in New York City. Thereafter, she formed the Eyes of a Blue Dog Dance Theater group, which held performances in many notable venues, including Jacob’s Pillow. Her dance and theater work eventually led to more involvement in storytelling through video production. In 2010, she began work with NYLAHD as in an in-house Producer and Director, creating commercials and music videos for major companies and well-known recording artists, such as Nicki Minaj, Hertz, and Nike. In 2013, she directed an episode called Tonight for the web series Match, which was shot in Austin, Texas, with Rebekah Kennedy (of the Netflix original To The Bone ) as the lead actress. In 2014, she co-founded Iron Rose Productions with James Fitzgerald and has since created video content for a wide variety of companies and nonprofit organizations, including Lancome (cosmetics), Yield Street (investment services), the Urban Alternative (nonprofit) and ELLE (fashion). The End Game is her longest work to date and one of many more to come.

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

The most important tip when writing and creating a story is research. Reading all the materials on that subject in regard to social, cultural, and historical context will allow you to gather the tools to begin painting a picture of the story. When the story has its context, you must cross reference the information.

Second, go back as far as you can, finding the purpose and motivation behind all sides of the story. This protects the viewer from traveling down a rabbit hole, unless this is your intended metaphor to explain the complex relativity space-time theory.

This leads us to the third tip, create a visual representational baseline to communicate the themes of your story. The baseline needs to inspire critical thought through language and images. It is very powerful to have the baseline to help you connect with your audience and reach them on a visceral emotional level with your words and images.

When you have the baseline, continue to the fourth tip and build with evocative language and visual components such as color and music. Color and music have their own complexity based on wavelengths and frequencies, emotional connection through memories, and cultural references. It is good to be aware of these because they are all connected and your building blocks need to be of the same construction material.

Finally, be bold and understand that not everyone will appreciate or even like your work. There are a myriad of reasons behind this, but you must remain on course and stay true to your values. Your job is to inspire and create an environment that applauds learning and the search for knowledge. If someone reads and/or watches your work and then goes on to discover more about the subject on their own, you’ve succeeded. We are not the end all, we are only the small rays of lights entering the eyes that cause someone to look up. Then it’s up to the viewer to continue the lifelong journey of what makes the Sun shine and why are we able to see it.

Devon Handy, Co-Founder, Hellbent Podcast

My Background In Journalism

Devon Handy is the co-founder of the funny, fierce and unyielding podcast, Hellbent, a feminist political news and commentary radio show for those who resist and persist. Devon and her co-founder Sarah Lerner launched the radio show in 2017 to call out the racist, sexist, xenophobic, homophobic, transphobic and all around biased people who currently populate the modern political landscape. As a Democratic woman, she aims to bring a heavy feminist lens to a male-dominated political space. Originally from the Midwest, Devon graduated from University of California, Davis with a B.A. in Women and Gender Studies, and has since lived in Los Angeles. She proudly describes herself as a feminist. She is mom to one son, two pit bulls and two grumpy cats. In her copious amounts of free time (ha!), she likes to read comic books, cosplay at geeky conventions and crochet.

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

1. Let go of Imposter Syndrome: We are told as women that we don’t belong in most fields, especially male-dominated fields like journalism and news. You are qualified, and you can do it. You are a journalist, no matter where you are in your journey. Believe that.

2. Ask for help: If you don’t know how to do something, reach out and ask. I’ve found that most people want to say, Yes, and love talking about their expertise. Help can come in many forms: a seasoned journalist, a reporter from a totally different field (I recently worked with a pop culture reporter and she gave me fantastic tips on getting your subject to open up), or your sister who has an MFA in creative writing. They can all help make you a better journalist, often in critical ways. If you’re stuck in your research or a little lost by your subject, call someone and ask them to help you organize your thoughts and jump back in with a fresh perspective.

3. Don’t be afraid to put your spin on the story: This tip doesn’t necessarily mean your opinion. Connect the story to larger themes that speak to you. A news item can be feminist or intersectional or connected to another, seemingly unrelated story — don’t be afraid to put stories in a larger context. You are also allowed to care about what you’re writing about, and you are allowed to let that show in your story. I would argue that it makes for a better piece.

4. Broaden your research: Don’t just research the story you’re working. Use your curiosity to learn new things in unexpected places. When you’re researching a story, take a few extra minutes to uncover connections and ask unexpected questions. Always try to surprise your subject with a question they haven’t heard before.

5. Think bigger: This goes back to #1. Whatever your aspirations are, up the ante and go for one step higher. You can do this and you’ll only get better with practice. Set attainable goals, but lofty aspirations. Assume you’re going to be great, and you will be.

Amanda Busick, Reporter, NHRA Championship Drag Racing

My Background In Journalism

As the only full-time female pit reporter for NHRA Championship Drag Racing, Amanda Busick has found her niche interviewing drivers and crew members. She builds solid and genuine relationships with those involved in the sport, gaining the trust that allows her to ask probing and insightful questions. Amanda is based at NHRA’s headquarters in Glendora, Calif. where she provides features for television, digital and social platforms all year long. She attends all 24 of the NHRA Mello Yello Drag Racing Series events conducting segments both for live broadcast and future content production. Busick has been featured as a sideline reporter for a number of sports and was one of the first reporters for CampusInsiders.com.. Amanda’s career path has been anything but traditional as she’s had stints in everything from waiting tables to selling meat while she pursued her dream of working in sports broadcasting. Proof that persistence and hard work pay off, Amanda is living her dream as she works with a talented team of seasoned professionals to bring NHRA Championship Drag Racing to fans on each FOX Sports broadcast.

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

We all know that Who, What, Where, When and Why are the basic principles of Journalism.. this is how they drive me in my career:

1. Who: Due Diligence — With a background in entrepreneurship, I spent my undergrad years analyzing business plans from a top-down perspective to gain knowledge of the nuances and jargon specific to various industries. I apply this same grit and tenacity to the sports (i.e. the Who ) I’m covering. My research is never complete and I work hard to ensure accuracy.

2. What: Commitment — What is NHRA Championship Drag Racing? When I joined the organization in 2016 I can honestly say I didn’t know much about the sport. I had a second-chance opportunity to pursue my dream so I dove head first into compulsively studying drag racing and I focused on feedback from the fans. Although I’m sure I’ve fallen short of expectations at times, I’m committed to meeting their needs and performing my duties to the best of my ability. Thankfully, I’m lucky enough to work with some of the foremost experts in the sport who have supported me and encouraged me. In fact, one of my colleagues suggested that I get my drag racing license in order to really understand the psyche of our drivers. Now I’m proud to say that I am an NHRA-licensed driver in the Super Comp category. Unwavering commitment is so important in this line of work. Personally, I don’t see any other way.

3. Where: Adaptability — On this career path, the environment will forever change and evolve — maybe you are adapting in real time to events, maybe it’s a long-term change. No matter the circumstances, challenge yourself to stay present. When unfamiliarity enters into your world, root yourself in your past experience and trust yourself to usher in the next phase or experience.

4. When: Ownership — Remember, there is no better time than right now. As a procrastinator who is also a perfectionist I really struggle with this. I have to force myself to take the time to review my work, watch others and practice my craft. I appreciate feedback — good and bad. I just require a little extra time to truly process and grow. Know your rhythm and trust your process. Always view yourself as the student and you will find your teachers everywhere. I work with some of the best in the business and learn from them every day.

5. Why: Thank You Notes (Handwritten) — This career is not for the tender-hearted. The dream job you imagined may not unfold the way you anticipated. The promotion you know you deserve may take longer than expected. However there are people — your people — who will cross your path. Your people will believe in you and champion your success. The best part about a handwritten Thank You note (as opposed to an email) is that very special person sees your handwriting, they know that you took time away from the screen to think about them, they will see that card and acknowledge it whether it sits on their desk or ends up in the trash bin. Maybe I’m in the minority on this subject, but handwritten notes have positively impacted my career more than all the other tips combined.

Happy Dreaming my teachers, I am forever your student.

Dana Ward. Co-founder, Producer & Host.

My Background In Journalism

As an on-air personality and executive producer, Dana played an integral role in the development of the highly popular entertainment news network, Clevver Media, on YouTube, and more broadly, in helping to pioneer strategies that have helped to shape the digital entertainment and branded content spaces.

At Clevver Media (founded in 2006, acquired by Alloy Digital in 2012, merged with Break Media in 2013 to form Defy Media), she worked on-camera, executive produced and led creative development of branded content and ad campaigns for outside brands & studios such as Macy’s, COVERGIRL, ACUVUE, adidas, Gillette Venus, Secret, Sally Hansen, Candie’s, Sony, Universal and Summit Entertainment, among others. To date, she has written, produced and/or hosted more than 7,500 segments representing over 2 billion cumulative video views for the company. She has worked on segments for NBC, HLN/CNN, CBS, Extra, E! Entertainment, People Magazine as well as hosted livestreams for Disney at their El Capitan movie premieres, live hosted the LG National Texting Championship and guest corresponded for the Today Show in Australia. Most recently, she was excited to produce and host with Digital Domain for segment in 360 degree virtual reality for the Nobel Peace Prize Concert in Oslo, Norway.

Dana is currently CMO & co-founder of consumer product brand, PreHeels. The first product sold more than $3 million in its first year and the company will be launching more innovative skincare products later this year.

She has a broadcast journalism degree from the Annenberg School at University of Southern California.

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

1) Finish every interview with the question, is there anything else that you’d like to add? . Even when we do our research as journalists, sometimes there is something we’ve missed or that the subject hasn’t yet shared, and this question gives him or her the opportunity to open up. It might be that last moment that results in the most interesting angle for your story.

2) Study the medium that you’re working in. For example, if you want to be hired in the broadcast space, be sure to watch tv and digital segments to see what works, what doesn’t work, etc. & figure out all of the technical aspects of your medium. Also, put yourself in the shoes of a consumer of that media and consider what drives you to want to watch or click to the next channel or video. Apply learned knowledge to your work.

3) Become a master of none, in order to become a master of your job. Especially in this digital age, it is very helpful to understand the big picture of how the machine works in order to help guide you in your work. Take some time to talk with other people at your company — or just research online — to get a basic understanding of the inner workings of all aspects of your business.

4) Be responsible. It seems like there’s a lot of pressure to get clicks or views these days and unfortunately, some members of the media feel the need to post sensational and sometimes false headlines. Don’t do this no matter, even if others are participating in the nonsense.

5) Appreciate your team… and tell them. We all work really hard — especially in the reporting world — and everyone has an important role to play. A positive work environment is just good for your sanity, so make sure that you’re participating in making that a reality. More people will want to work with you and it will make your job more rewarding.

Taylor Leddin

My Background In Journalism

Since the age of 19, Taylor Leddin has made a name for herself as a successful freelance journalist, being published nationwide both in print and online. Taylor has been building a portfolio since high school and has published over 500 articles. You may have seen Taylor’s work in outlets, such as: The American Genius, The Real Daily, Fan Fest, The Roosevelts, The Vidette, and various Lifestyle Publication magazines. Taylor specializes in writing in-depth profiles on individuals, and she has had the pleasure of interviewing actors Don Stark (That ’70s Show) and Keith Coogan (Adventures in Babysitting), as well as radio personality, Terry Boers. She had gotten her career start in the entertainment industry, doing background and stand-in work for shows such as The Mob Doctor and Chicago Fire. This only exacerbated her love of film and television, which has led her to develop Catching Up With Taylor (www.taylorleddin.com) an entertainment site that features film, television, and music related musings, both old and new. In addition to her journalistic efforts, Taylor has also published short stories and poetry in the Goose River Anthology print publications. Taylor resides in Chicago, IL and makes it a point to write a little something every single day.

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

1 Organization is Key: Having some sort of organizational method (whether digital or pen-to-paper) is crucial for working in journalism. You must have a space to track deadlines, ideas, and general notes. You’d be amazed at how quickly simple details can fall out of your head, so it’s imperative to always have a calendar of some sort to keep yourself on track.

2 Don’t Pigeon Hole Yourself: If you find a beat that gels with you and that you can find consistent work with — great! But, when you’re first starting out, you have to be willing to try a few different topics. Don’t get discouraged if you’re hoping to be the next best sports writer and you’re covering local town hall meetings. You have to start somewhere to begin building a portfolio, and this is the perfect way to find a writing method that works for you.

3 Think Outside of the Box: Ideas can come up anytime and anywhere. Overhearing a conversation on the train can trigger your brain into developing brand new story angle. Always be observing and listening. This will help you to see ideas in a number of different ways and will be something that will help your writing grow.

4 Don’t Be Afraid to Share: There’s always an exception, but most editors can be very receptive to hearing your ideas. Even if the idea is not necessarily what the outlet typically produces, this can be a way to appeal to different readers. Even if your idea gets turned down, you should always keep a running list of your original ideas. That way, you may be able to go back to it one day for another outlet.

5 Meet New People: I cannot stress this enough. Networking is great for advancing yourself professionally, but constantly meeting different people allows you to get different perspectives and ideas that can aid in your writing. This is why I encourage any writer who typically works from home to get out and work at a coffee shop or some public place. You never know what you’ll see or hear, or who you’ll meet. This can open your eyes to a whole new world of ideas.

Michelle Fitzsimmons, Senior Editor, Developing Tech for TechRadar

My Background In Journalism

Michelle Fitzsimmons is Senior Editor, Developing Tech for TechRadar, a globally recognized consumer technology website that recently surpassed 30 million users.

She covers emerging technologies, ranging from virtual and augmented reality to autonomous transportation. Prior to this role, Michelle was TechRadar’s Senior News Editor, helping to lead global news and feature activities for the site.

Michelle didn’t have a technology reporting background before joining TechRadar in 2012, but used her experience in print and at AOL’s Patch to quickly navigate the exciting and ever-changing waters of the tech world.

Hailing from the Bay Area, Michelle is a graduate of UC Santa Cruz, where she served as Editor in Chief of the university’s student-run newspaper, City on a Hill Press. She is an avid hockey fan and tweets about hockey nearly as much as she does about technology.

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

1. Be confident in your abilities

You may be the only female in the room, but there’s a reason you’re there. You have the experience and the skills, and chances are you bring a unique perspective that no one else has. So own it. If you start feeling like you don’t belong, take a deep breath and, remember, you got this!

2. Cover what you care about

The best stories are ones that you’re interested in on a personal level. Chances are, someone else cares about it, too. So seek out the stories you want to know more about, and don’t be afraid of people doubting your decision. It may not end up being the most widely read story you ever cover, but it will be one of the most professionally satisfying. Plus, these are the types of stories that you’ll call back to again and again throughout your career.

3. Don’t fear success

Being in the spotlight can be uncomfortable for many women. It can be for me. I realized fear of success had been holding me back from taking on bigger stories, from asking questions in media scrums, and from shying away from owning my triumphs. Don’t let fear hold you back from taking risks and owning your success. The best part is that, after awhile, those fears start to shrink as your confidence builds.

4. Go outside your comfort zone

Along those same lines, be willing to go outside your comfort zone. If you’re used to covering a certain beat, see if you can do a story in another one. It’s a great way to stretch your reporting and writing skills, plus you get to learn about what makes another part of your organization tick.

5. Learn new skills, often

With the advent of digital media, it’s more important than ever to keep your skills updated. Stay on top of the latest trends, learn a skill like video editing, and try out different forms of storytelling. Having skills in your arsenal that allow you to stand out will help you grow professionally, so it’s never a bad thing to learn something new!

Snowden Bishop, Host of The Cannabis Reporter Radio Show

My Background In Journalism

Snowden Bishop is an award-winning talk radio host, journalist, editor and producer whose career began in the fast-paced arena of broadcast news. She cut her teeth in FM radio as a drive-time DJ and reporter before transitioning into television news. First recruited by NBC affiliate KCST-TV in San Diego to become an evening news assignment reporter, she later accepted a position at Midwestern NBC affiliate, KCBJ-TV in Columbia, Missouri where she anchored morning newscasts. Snowden has since held a myriad of positions ranging from production staff to executive for major media companies including CastleRock, HBO, Warner Bros. and EMI/Capitol. During that era, she worked with a host of iconic Hollywood A-list directors, producers and actors as well as legendary performing artists.

When independent production opportunities knocked, she answered the call by forming her own company. As principal of Bishop Arts & Media, she produced award-winning films, documentaries and live theater projects including the critically acclaimed sleeper-hit musical White Trash Wins Lotto and the musical/ballet adaptation of Warner Bros’ legendary film, Casablanca, which debuted at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, China. Known for her masterful storytelling skills, Snowden garnered a following of high-profile clients for ghostwriting and editorial services, which eventually led to her return to journalism.

In 2009, Snowden left Hollywood and relocated to Arizona in pursuit of projects more aligned with her personal mission to create a better world, one word at a time. As principal of BEAM Global Media, she has since served as editor-in-chief and co-publisher of several niche publications in the education, sustainability and health sectors. In 2014, she produced the first worldwide streaming of Life Is Beautiful, a major three-day music and arts festival in Las Vegas.

Having written about cannabis since 2010, Snowden parlayed her burning desire to raise awareness about compassionate care and the environmental, social and economic benefits of regulating cannabis into the 2015 launch of The Cannabis Reporter. In 2016, she became host of The Cannabis Reporter Radio Show, the first all-cannabis talk show to achieve national radio network syndication and winner of the 2018 Best of Cannabis Industry awards in two categories, Best Radio Show and Best Podcast.

Exceptionally knowledgeable about environmental issues and all aspects of cannabis, Snowden is frequently invited to provide commentary in media and speak at events. She is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists, Association of Health Care Journalists and Climate Reality Leadership Corps. Throughout her career, she has devoted countless hours to nonprofit causes and has served as documentarian and lobbyist for The Paw Project and Vice Chairman of the Board of Friends of Africa International for more than a decade.

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

1. Be Passionate: Whenever an assigned story goes against your grain, my best advice is to keep digging until you find an angle that sparks your passion. Early in my career, I was hired to write about a condominium complex on a pristine section of coastline, something I found objectionable as an environmentalist. Since abandoning a lucrative assignment wasn’t an option, I had to overcome my loathing. Mining for inspiration, I learned that the engineer incorporated green building principles, which enabled me to deliver an impassioned article.

2. Be Unique: It takes more than technical proficiency to compete for coveted assignments or audience share these days. Having a well honed voice is as uniquely yours as your fingerprints and engenders familiarity and helps audiences identify with you. I also found that developing a specialty — in my case environmental issues and cannabis — increased my value as a writer and created opportunity.

3. Be Honest: Fight the temptation to stray from sacrosanct principles of journalism even when writing for online outlets that cater to audiences seeking concurrence with their own beliefs rather than factual reality. Unchecked bias not only discredits a reporter, it also denigrates the entire profession and amounts to abuse of our First Amendment rights. While holding attention of cannabis audiences requires approaching the topic from the lens of an advocate, I have found that audiences are always better served by (and appreciate) unadulterated truth, no matter how disappointing it may be.

4. Be Informed: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing, as the saying goes. Even if you think you know enough to cover a topic, learn more. This is especially important when tackling controversial subjects, which invite scrutiny of disagreeable critics who won’t hesitate to humiliate you when your facts don’t pan out. When I’m unsure about a fact and have no time to research it, I either leave it out or make my own ignorance part of the story.

5. Be Fearless: Dare to tread on topics no one else will touch. Having learned this lesson late in my career, it took me to the next level of success. Despite a mixed bag of consternation from colleagues and concern from loved ones, I began writing about cannabis long before most mainstream media would cover it. When I ventured into terrestrial radio, people said I was crazy. Finding a station brave enough to air my show was challenging at first, but persistence paid off. It is now the first and only all-cannabis program to achieve national syndication.

Juliette Fairley, Business and Financial Journalist

My Background In Journalism

Ms. Fairley was a correspondent for The Street, covering the business side of legalizing cannabis as well as the high networth demographic and she hosted a tv show for the Discovery Channel called Cha Ching Money Makers.

Below is one of Juliette’s videos for The Street. Many other of her videos can be found on Juliette’s website.

Juliette has used her notoriety as a business and finance journalist to snag a couple of movie roles too for which she was featured in the Huffington Post.

Her work has been featured in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Commercial Observer, Financial Advisor and she worked on Steve Forbes’ ghost writing team on two of Mr. Forbes’ books. One of her many areas of expertise is millennial personal finance.

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

Diversify. Network and Be Visible.

The key to my success is being visible and being known as a jack of all trades within the journalism industry, which means not just reporting articles but also writing books, tv hosting or being an expert commentator on local tv news shows. All of it will legitimize you in your chosen subject area. If you can’t get a book deal with a traditional publisher, self publish on Amazon.com. Create your own reported video content and play it on your website or youtube channel.

Differentiate yourself with a niche whether it be the law, finance, dating/relationships or travel, for example. Join as many writing organizations as you can afford, get involved and attend their networking conferences. I belong to the New York Financial Writers Association, the American Society of Journalists and Authors and the Association of Ghostwriters. You just never know where your next freelance client is going to come from.

Helen Epstein

My Background In Journalism

Helen Epstein was born in Prague and educated in Jerusalem and New York City.

She has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Jerusalem Post, MS. Esquire and New York and now blogs for artsfuse.com. She is the author of ten books including the ground-breaking Children of the Holocaust — that presaged epigenetic research into intergenerational transmission of trauma, and recent The long Half Lives of Love and Trauma. Widely translated, she also lectures internationally

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

Follow your gut instincts.

Research the hell out of your story.

Check and double-check your facts and quotes.

Rewrite and revise until you can’t stand looking at your piece.

Maintain excellent relations with sources and editors.

Christina Kumar, Examiner.com

My Background In Journalism

Christina Kumar is a marketing and pr specialist who has interviewed and published works on 101+ business owners as well as high-profile figures on Examiner.com (acquired by Axs.com). She also has a Google for Entrepreneurs winning company. She is open to networking and collaborating on new projects.

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

The most crucial tip is to network. Networking and being open to socializing with new people will open even more doors, opportunity, and connections.

Keep up with the trends. This is true if you are ever asked to do an impromptu interview and so you will be prepared. This happens!

Percistence. When you want to communicate a message to a new audience, go for it. Even if that means trying again.

Attend events that interest you. You’ll meet more people all the while enjoying yourself and collaborating with like-minded folks.

Stay prepared. Always be prepared to meet someone who would be a good story and/or source. Have business cards on hand to connect with them.

Holly Bennett, Founder, Holla Communications, Inc.

My Background In Journalism

Holly Bennett loves the art of language — from long-form masterpieces to sassy social media missives and everything in between. That passion, mixed with a natural gift for real-world networking (along with a heck of a lot of hands-on experience) combine to form her unique communications know-how.

An expert in the endurance sports industry, Holly previously directed the marketing efforts of numerous brands and served as editor-at-large and a long-time contributor to Triathlete, Inside Triathlon and Australian Triathlete magazines. These days, the majority of her professional efforts go toward content creation and PR work for the fitness and nutrition-focused BlenderBottle Company. She still keeps one running-shoe-clad foot in the triathlon journalism door as a regular contributor to Ironman.com.

When not immersed in her Mac, Holly is likely running, cycling, swimming, fine-tuning her foodie fascination, digging deep into a Malbec, or plotting her next active adventure around the world.

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

1) A DIY career is possible.

I don’t have a degree in journalism. Or in English lit. Or in anything, for that matter. The closest I came was a poetry independent study in boarding school, where my mentor and I sat in her apartment for hours, sipping from giant bowl-sized mugs of coffee, analyzing my latest emotion-packed poem. Everything I’ve done professionally, I’ve learned from scratch. Being scrappy, resourceful, and eager to try are my go-to methods for learning and getting a job done.

2) Write because you have to.

Write because your heart and mind demand it. Write because it’s your passion and craft. Write because you have stories to share, and an undeniable need to share them. Don’t write because you want to be paid to write — at least not at first. If a writing and journalism career is what you’re after, by all means pursue every opportunity. But keep your unconditional love of writing front and center. In my experience, the money will follow.

3) Pay attention.

Great stories are everywhere. Keep your eyes, ears, mind, and heart open and you’ll find them.

4) Use everything you know.

I have professional experience in service, sales, marketing, copywriting, social media, B2B communications, and PR, in addition to journalism. I draw on all my experience with nearly every article I write. My marketing brain helps me craft story angles. My sales experience helps me convince my editors. My PR and social media savvy help me tie it all together and share my stories far and wide. Very few of us are singularly focused these days. Draw from your entire skill set to inform your work.

5) Say yes.

This is my mantra — not only in work, but in all aspects of life. I’ve had incredible opportunities to travel the world doing the things that I love most — racing in triathlons and reporting on my athletic experiences, members of the global triathlon community, and the exotic venues in which we train and compete. Sometimes these opportunities were not conveniently timed in conjunction with my other work or personal life. Sometimes I was ill-prepared to race. But always, I said yes. And in so doing, I experienced countless countries and cultures, with trips to Vietnam, Thailand, Taiwan, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Chile, Bahrain, and more. Saying yes — turning every why into why not — has introduced me to people, places, and adventures that many only dream of, or find too intimidating to try.

Carole Lieberman, M.D. TV-Radio-Print Journalist

My Background In Journalism

As a psychiatrist, I bring a unique background to journalism, which enables me to provide a psychological perspective on today’s headlines and provide insights to people that can help them navigate today’s crazy-making world. I’m a 3-time Emmy honored TV personality, with hundreds of appearances, starting with Oprah and Larry King, and continuing with regular appearances on all the top networks, such as CNN, HLN, FOX and Fox News, and have hosted shows of my own. For 13 years, I have been hosting Dr. Carole’s Couch, a weekly talk radio show, in which I put celebrities, authors, politicians, attorneys and other newsmakers on my couch, and continue to grow a national and international audience of loyal followers. For over a year, I have also been hosting a weekly podcast called The Terrorist Therapist Show. I’m a bestselling/award-winning author of 4 books, and have been a columnist for a variety of magazines and newspapers.

Born and raised in New York City, my life changed after 9/11. Though I was already living in Los Angeles, my heart was still in NYC, and when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center, my heart broke. From that moment, I decided that the best way I could help my country (and the world) would be to direct my psychiatry and journalism work towards helping people cope with terrorism. As The Terrorist Therapist®, I have found numerous ways to do this, and am most passionate about my new book: Lions and Tigers and Terrorists, Oh My! How To Protect Your Child in a Time of Terror, the first and only book about terrorism for kids (and their parents and teachers). Kids are most vulnerable to the impact of terrorism, so grownups need to know how to talk to them about it. I call it the ‘birds and the bees talk for the 21st century’! My goal is to help families learn how to build stronger nests so that they can continue to follow their dreams.

My Top Suggestions To Succeed as a Woman In Journalism

1. Don’t play it safe. Safe is boring. Go for your own original take on a topic! It is very tempting — especially in today’s world where people are quick to take offense and misjudge you — to stick with commentary that is tried and true and PC. But, you will bore your audience — and yourself — to tears.

2. Keep literary writing alive. Don’t contribute to the dumbing down of America! How many times have you written or said something fabulous, only to second-guess yourself as to whether the audience will understand your big words or get the double-entendres or subtle sarcasm? We owe it to ourselves and to our audience to keep our work at a level we can be proud of, even if they may sometimes have to ask their the person next to them what you mean, or consult a dictionary.

3. Never compromise your integrity. There are so many pressures on journalists these days to survive and thrive in this dog-eat-dog world, that it’s tempting to take shortcuts or sensationalize your story, until you find yourself crossing the fine line between fact and fiction. But, once you’ve grabbed those eyeballs or created click-bait, you’re left with a sick feeling and no integrity.

4. Follow your passions. Though you might not see an obvious connection between the things you love and the mainstream topics journalists are asked to write/talk about, it can be your way into a niche that is just right for you. For example, you may feel guilty about hours spent horseback riding instead of working at your computer, but these experiences could be your entree into equestrian journalism.

5. Don’t get stuck in humdrum assignments, or at least figure out how to make them exciting! What’s the point of saying something that’s been said before? If you have to cover the same beat day in and day out, find a new way of looking at it. Turn things upside down. Make it fun.

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