Our last morning was an early one, but I was ready to finish strong! I was supposed to lead questioning for Al Jazeera’s John Terrett the day before, but as it turns out, the network folded! During my research, I discovered that the channel’s ratings were declining and that the work environment was tumultuous, so I was not surprised to hear that it was falling apart.
Instead, we met Amanda Wolfe, the senior digital director for both Fitnessmagazine.com and Shape.com. She said that she was very “lucky” to have kept her job for so many years, because she has survived multiple mergers, layoffs, and cut backs. The two websites both focus on healthy food and lifestyle, a topic that many people like to cover. However, she had a very relaxed opinion about the competition. She admitted that everyone in the world is competition, but that’s “just how it goes.” Trying to be number one on a Google search is always a good goal to strive for, but it doesn’t always happen. Fitness and Shape often partner with other competitive websites like Refinery29 and Self, because sending traffic back and forth between these publications helps increase publicity and credibility for everyone. There are always going to be people who are constantly writing about abs or arms or thighs, but it helps to have those relationships and networks to support one another.
The lobby area at Meredith Corporation, owner of FitnessMagazine.com, Shape.com, Family Circle, and more.
While we were still in the building, we met Family Circle’s Melissa Knific, the associate food editor. She works in a lovely test kitchen all day, and her job does not sound easy. After getting a degree in journalism and going to culinary school, she spends her time creating about sixty original recipes a month! She researches the internet, eats food at restaurants, and attends events and festivals for seasonal inspiration. It sounds like an active and exciting career, but also extremely stressful. I am not a very good cook whatsoever, but even if I was, I would find it tremendously taxing to generate so many food ideas.
Melissa Knific talks about food inspiration inside her test kitchen!
Our last interview was with National Public Radio’s Elizabeth Jensen, the company’s ombudsman and public editor. I had never heard of this title before, but she explained that this role requires her to be very interactive with the NPR audience. Listeners can send her e-mails with complaints or comments about what they hear on the air, and Jensen decides whether it is an issue worth addressing to the rest of the staff. She showed us one example of a Latina woman complaining about the the vocabulary used to tell a story about another Latino man, Ted Cruz. She disliked the use of the words “gang” and “armed,” and Jensen determined that this was a concern that she had not thought about before. Listeners hear different things based on their backgrounds, and it is easy for even the most seasoned radio host to accidentally gloss over.
After a short tour of the NPR studio, I carried my exhausted feet back to the hotel and packed my things. It was already time to depart, and I it was amazing to reflect upon everything that we had accomplished in a few short days.