Media, Darling: Tara Ballantyne

Tara Ballantyne joined Style at Home last February as its resident style and food editor. Tara began her
styling career in Norway and worked for publications like Norwegian ELLE and
French ELLE along with various other European publications. She has had
numerous television appearances on the Marilyn Denis Show, Breakfast Television
and CityLine.



photo credit: Transcontinental Media 

Did
you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the
horizon? 
There are so many things you can do in a
lifetime, and I’m guilty of wanting to do anything to satisfy my creativity. My
schooling is in interior design and I worked in architecture for three years
before I switched to magazines. It was the best decision I have ever made and I
love what I get to do and how creative I can be each day at Style at Home.
Where
would you like to be five years from now?
In a studio with a totally inspired
photographer, great light, lots of beautiful food, great models and a hundred
baby bunnies shooting some wild Tim Walker-inspired images.
Any
advice for people getting started in your industry?
Don’t be afraid to sweep floors, pour endless
amounts of coffee, or even pick up someone else’s dry cleaning (seriously I had
to do this once). I’ve had to learn countless coffee orders by heart and had
design proposals ripped up right in front of my face. It can be a long road of
being humble, but you watch and learn and in the end, it’s completely worth it.
What
are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
Having spent so much time in Norway, I really
developed an affection for swedish RUM magazine, ELLE Norway and Sweden, and I
love emmas designblogg –
design and style from a scandinavian perspective
. I also adore Canadian blog Bijou and Boheme, and spend entirely too much time selecting fashion
ensembles from the The
Sartorialist
, that my husband and I
should definitely purchase. Fortunately, he is a kind and patient person who
politely nods and says “uh huh” while I involuntarily involve him
in selecting my favourite looks to wear on a vespa, and for braving the
cobblestone streets. 
Best
interview you’ve ever had?
My interview for ELLE Norwegian… it ended up
landing me my first cover, and I was so insanely excited to be part of the
magazine in another country – it was pretty amazing. There is always something
very special about your first.
Worst?
I’ve been super lucky so far, in that I’ve only ever had great interviews. Fingers crossed this continues!
Best
advice you’ve ever been given?
Avoid horizontal stripes and don’t eat a full
meal before you go swimming.
What
rule(s) do you live your life by?
If you truly love something, it’s worth
fighting for. And edit to clarity – fashion, interiors, your words…
What’s
the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Open and honest communication I guess. I’ve
worked with great PR people and I’ve always appreciated when they tell me what
I need to hear, not necessarily what I want to hear. Also I am always super
impressed when they remember names!
Best
experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Being convinced that the $250 sweater I
bought for a television appearance was not a bad decision and in fact a
worthwhile investment piece for my wardrobe. Cashmere really is timeless, lol.
I
hate?
Subway delays.
I
love?
Butter tarts, and the way Instagram always
makes you instantly look amazing.
Reading?
International design books (magazines); I
love seeing what’s going on in other countries and get a lot of inspiration
from that. Right now I am also re-reading Rebecca for the second time, and am
guilty of choosing my knitting project over my half-finished copy of Infidel
Best
place on earth?
Any place where I’m surrounded by family and
friends, a great glass of wine, and good food and conversation.
Dinner
guest?
Brother and sister, Sibella Court
and Chris Court. I am so astounded with the creativity that they both exhibit
in the work they do with styling, development and photography. 
Hero?
Coco Chanel. 
Favourite
app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Instagram, and that
new Christmas app that helps you with shopping and wrapping.
Pool
or ocean?
Definitely Ocean.
Voicemail
or email?
Definitely email.

Media, Darling: Sandra Martin

Toronto freelance journalist Sandra Martin specializes in parenting
and personal finance — two very hot topics. In her previous role as executive editor of
Today’s
Parent
, she appeared regularly on television news and current
events programs to discuss everything from diapers to drinking underage.


Before joining Today’s Parent in 2005, Sandra worked double duty as personal finance correspondent for Global TV and as a reporter with the Financial Post. She also launched the National Post’s FP Weekend money section. Prior to that, she spent nearly five years at MoneySense magazine, where she developed a reputation with TV and radio producers as an approachable, understandable on-air source.
Since then, she has appeared often in television broadcasts, including Citytv’s CityNews, Breakfast Television and Cityline, CTV’s Canada AM and News Channel; CBC’s The National and NewsworldThe Mom ShowET Canada; Global Ontario’s News Hour, as well as the now-defunct Morning News and MoneyWise personal finance magazine. She has also taped segments for Til Debt Do Us Part on Slice.
In print, her byline has appeared in ChatelaineMoreCottage LifeReader’s DigestMoneySense and PROFIT magazines, as well as the National Post and The Globe and Mail newspapers.
Sandra holds a degree in journalism from Ryerson University and has also completed the Canadian Securities Course. She lives in Toronto with her husband and two young daughters.



Twitter: @SandraEMartin

Did
you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the
horizon? 

Once I was honest with myself, yes, I always wanted to be in the media. But
for a long time, I tried to be practical, entertaining the idea of becoming (in
this order): an architect, an accountant and a technical writer. Oy.


Where would you like to be five years from now?

For the first time ever in my career, I don’t have an answer to that – and
it feels really, really good. This spring I gave my notice at Today’s Parent,
after nearly seven great years. As much as I love the brand, am invested in the
brand, it was time for me to move on and challenge myself with something
different. Don’t get me wrong; I bawled like a baby when I handed in my letter
of resignation; it was a really emotional move for me. But in the media,
stagnation is the death of creativity. And if you lose your creativity, you
might as well kiss your career goodbye.


Any advice for people getting started in your industry?

I graduated from journalism school at the height of a recession, and except
for, well, now, I’ve never been without a salaried job. My newbie mantra? Work hard. Be humble. Speak up when you have an idea. And don’t stay in one place
too long. (See, I almost didn’t take my own advice.)


What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?

My addiction to covetgarden.com is becoming a bit of a concern for all those who love me. I think they’ve
nailed everything that my demographic wants in a shelter mag; the interiors are
a little bit quirky and totally approachable – the rooms don’t look as though
they’ve been staged to an inch of their lives. Plus you get to see the
homeowners; you get to know them, as well as their spaces.


Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows I’m a music fan (and wannabe guitarist)
– and I love music trivia.
exploremusic.com and www.alancross.ca are two of
my go-tos.


Best interview you’ve ever had?

You mean in the course of researching an article? The biggest thrill has to
have been when I was granted 20 minutes on the phone with David Cronenberg, who
was promoting the premiere of his film M. Butterfly at TIFF. He ended up
speaking with me for an hour.


Worst?

Either I haven’t had a complete train wreck, or I’ve wiped it from my memory
in order to protect my sanity.


Best advice you’ve ever been given?

“Why don’t you just do it.”


What rule(s) do you live your life by?

It sounds corny, but I treat people I work with – bosses, peers, those who
report to me – the way I’d like to be treated. I take it as a huge compliment
when people come to me with their problems, and I respect the fact that they’ve
chosen me to confide in. Also, I hope to live my life with no regrets. That
goes for my interactions with people, as well as the path I choose for myself.
I don’t ever want to look back and say, “What if I had….”


What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?

Don’t rely on email programs. I can’t tell you how many pitches I’ve
received addressed to “Sandrae” because my Today’s Parent email
address uses my first name and middle initial squished together. If you start
out misspelling my name (which is really, really easy to look up), you’ll have
to have some phenomenal pitch to win me back.


Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.

Hmm, I can’t pick out just one, but I really love when PR pros work with me,
like a partner. If I come to you all flustered because a hole has opened up at
the last minute, and I need a high-res image for the magazine, or props for a
TV shoot, I’ll so appreciate it if you’re willing to scramble with me to put
together what I need.


I hate?

Rudeness.


I love?

Free stuff.


Reading?

I’m coming down from a bunch of back-to-back rock bios; for some fiction, right now I’m reading In One Person by John Irving. He’s one of my favourite
authors ever.


Best place on earth?

That depends on my mood. Today I’m going to say New York City (I feel like
my people are there, and I can’t believe I’ve never lived there). Sometimes,
I’ll say a remote woodsy place. I’ve never been to Tofino, BC, but I just know
I would love it there.


Dinner guest?

Dave Grohl.


Hero?

Ever since I read The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, I’ve had a helluva
lot of admiration for Rebecca Skloot. Every journalist should read that book,
and remember what the pursuit of the truth is about.


Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?

I could not live without BlackBerry Messenger, but I’m afraid other media
types will think I’m terribly uncool for saying that. There’s nothing I
download more enthusiastically than music; I feel like I need to backfill my catalog
with some of the seminal albums I didn’t grow up with (my family was very pop).
Maybe Some Girls by the Rolling Stones?


Pool or ocean?

Pool. I’m not a strong swimmer, plus I’m a control freak – so I like knowing
the edge is never more than a few strokes away.


Voicemail or email?

Email. One hundred per cent.




Media, Darling: Jeremy John

Breakfast Television Winnipeg host Jeremy John wakes Winnipeggers up with a smile each and every
morning!


John’s love of storytelling and meeting interesting and
diverse people makes him a perfect fit for Breakfast Television. A Brantford,
Ontario native, John graduated from the Radio Broadcasting program at Humber
College in Toronto. Prior to joining the Citytv team, John has held a variety
of radio and television positions including stints at Rogers Television, 680News, CHFI, The Fan 590, KISS 92.5, 97.7 The Beach, SunTV, and A Channel.
Outside of work, John enjoys spending time with his family,
watching live theatre, and is a fan of just about any sport including hockey,
basketball and football. He is also a proud supporter of various local
charities including The YMCA, The Salvation Army and The Humane Society, as well as
local community theatre.
A few fun interesting facts you may not know is that John once worked as a giant jelly bean, got punched by “Tiger” Williams and put in a
headlock from John Cena, swam in a pool of cranberries, acted in a live weekly
theatre soap opera and competed multiple times in the World Championship of
Rock, Paper, Scissors.


Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other
careers were on the horizon? 
I wanted to be an actor. I thought that Canadians just
move to Hollywood and become famous.  Ended up in theatre school, hung out
with a lot of unemployed actors and decided to give radio a try instead.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
Here. In a bigger house. With nicer clothes. 
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Be ready and able to do anything. Learn as many skills
as possible. The person who can write and host and shoot and edit will
get the job sooner than the person who can do less.
Also be a solution person, not a problem person. If
there is an issue, bring it to the boss. But make every effort to bring a
solution along with you. It may not be the perfect solution but the boss
should see you as a person who always has an answer
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your
own? 
I watch/read/listen to all the local stations, newspapers,
blogs. I also am a big fan of lots of the CBC programming, sites like
reddit and boing boing
      
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Cheech and Chong were fun, so were The Wiggles, but for very
different reasons. I’m a huge Blue Jays fan so interviewing Hall of Famer
Roberto Alomar standing in the infield of Shaw Park was a very big deal to me.
Plus, he was super nice and hung out telling stories before and after the
interview.  
Worst?
Anyone who complains about having to get up early to be on
our show. Sorry, honestly I am, but we’re here and ready for you. The least you could do is put on a happy face for the camera.
  
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Fire it before it quits – a Roz Weston from KISS 92.5 quote
talking about my rapidly receding hair line. I started shaving it that weekend.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Family first. Fifty years from now I won’t regret not
putting in more overtime. I would regret missing a T-ball game or an
afternoon at the park.
  
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Make me understand how this is a benefit to my
audience. Focus on how this will improve the life of my audience and the
rest takes care of itself. The single focus should be the benefit to the
viewer.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear
about #wins.
Whenever the PR folks give me choices. Give me
different ideas about how to present your info. You know your product, I
know our show. Together we can make great bit of TV!
I hate?
People who make my job harder. If you do your work
properly, than I can do mine.
I love?
Making the control room laugh, intentionally or not. It’s great to hear the very busy people (who normally aren’t really giggly)
laughing at something I’ve done.
Reading?
Right now? Christopher Moore’s Sacre Bleu and Stephen
Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.
Two books at the same time, you ask? One in the upstairs
bathroom, one in the downstairs bathroom. Hey, you asked!
Best place on earth?
In the stands with my family at the ball park.


Dinner guest?

My wife. I know, you think I’m boring right. But
she’s really fun, she likes me a lot and I don’t get to see her nearly
enough. If I have to make a second choice, I would pick Eddie Vedder
Hero?
Terry Fox. It’s a cliché for a Canadian to say that,
but he’s a hero if ever there was one. A teenage kid who did so much for
cancer research.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
New stuff every day. Right now playing Monsters Ate My Condo, and Sid Meyers’ Pirates! 
Pool or ocean?
Pool – I hate jelly fish.
Voicemail or email?
I can ignore emails easier, so I prefer that. If you
need to get a hold of me, you should probably call.

Media, Darling: Mary Kitchen

Mary Kitchen delivers the latest entertainment stories making headlines in Toronto, Hollywood and beyond, as the entertainment anchor on CityNews on Citytv and CityNews Channel.

Mary’s knowledge of all things fashion, music, television, film and the arts keeps viewers on the pulse of Toronto’s vibrant entertainment scene night after night. From red carpets and breaking entertainment news, to exclusive interviews with national and international celebrities, Mary anchors the Entertainment City segment on CityNews at 5, 6 and 11 p.m. on Citytv and CityNews Channel. She is also a regular contributor to Breakfast Television, keeping viewers informed on updates from Canada’s Got Talent, and is the voice of digital reality series Canada’s Best Beauty Talent.

Previously she was a reporter for Fashion Television Channel and travelled around the globe interviewing celebrities such as Oprah Winfrey, Rihanna and Natalie Portman. As host of Red Carpet Diary at the Toronto International Film Festival, she has interviewed A-list celebrities, including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, George Clooney, Clint Eastwood and Woody Allen.



Website: CityNews.ca
Did you always
want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
No, I never knew this was really a job I
could have. I got into the business in a roundabout way, starting as an actor.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
Working with happy people and telling
good stories.
Any advice for people getting started in your
industry?
I think it has to be a part of who you
are, it’s not something you can force. It has to be in your nature. I think you
either have an innate appetite for this stuff or you don’t. And you must be
prepared to sleep very little!
What are your favourite media outlets, not including
your own? 
Style.com, the Globe and Mail, New York
Times
and Interview Magazine.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Not sure of my best interview, but there
are best moments. Woody Allen is fascinating, Emily Blunt and Mark Ruffalo are
two of my favourites because they’re always so generous. I was in awe of Tilda
Swinton. I had the biggest CAN Lit crush on Margaret Atwood. Sometimes you’re
disappointed though, so I’m happy that there are a few of my favourites that
remain a mystery. I’d never want to interview James Gandolfini and feel let
down.
Worst?
Not sure if it’s the worst, but it was the most
disappointing: Julian Schnabel. I was so looking forward to speaking with him,
as I’m a huge fan of his work. It was on a red carpet. He walked up to me and
asked if I saw the movie and I said no (as there was no press screening) and he
gave me a really hard time about it. The clip played on 98.1 CHFI, and for
years people asked me why he was such a jerk.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Kurt Russell told me that “the
business picks you,” meaning to not worry what I was supposed to do in this
business. I guess he meant that if you fit in, if it’s meant to be, you’ll find
your way. My aunt Heather also told me the hardest thing in life is to be
yourself, so strive for it.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
See answer above… and, I really think it’s
important to not take yourself too seriously, and to laugh a lot. Try to be as
healthy as you can, and to find the magic in life.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
People in media are on such tight
deadlines: we don’t have any time, so do the work. Write the story, or set up
the shoot theoretically and approach journalists with a creative ideas. Give
journalists a package and make it easy. In the end, we both want to get great
stories out there.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to
hear about #wins.
George Clooney’s publicist – he was just
such a nice guy. He’s calm and knows his stuff. He treats people with respect
and gets the job done, and does it all in a very elegant manner. Same with all
of the great studio publicists, the best are always great to talk with.
I hate?
I don’t like uptight people, or people
who take themselves too seriously. I don’t like nastiness or bad-spirited
media.
I love?
Movies (drive-in movies, in particular),
surfing, animals, Jay-Z, art, laughter and telling good stories. Organized
publicists are great at helping with that.
Reading?
Reading for work right now, just
finished The Hunger Games and Fifty Shades of Grey (like
everyone else). 
Best place on earth?
Family cottage, and anywhere I can go
surfing.
Dinner guest?
I would love to have Judy Garland or
Lady Di for dinner (I think Diana would have been a great interview).
Hero?
My mom and sister.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these
days)?
Just downloaded the new Santigold album
and Girls. Also addicted to Game of Thrones, New Girl and American Horror Story. No favourite app.
Pool or ocean?
OCEAN!!!!
Voicemail or email?
Voicemail.


Media, Darling: Erin McLaughlin

Erin McLaughlin is the editor-in-chief of Style at Home, Canada’s largest decorating and style magazine. She is also the editor-in-chief of Canadian Gardening, Canada’s most popular gardening magazine. For more than 15 years, Erin has been defining style for Canadians, as she has held positions as editor of Canadian Home & Country, and as features editor of Canadian House and Home. She has also written numerous freelance design columns over the years.


Erin grew up in a household of design aesthetes, informing the notion that surrounding yourself with items you love is the best – and easiest – way to decorate. Erin’s energetic approach to decorating encompasses mixing trends and styles, bright colours with classic neutrals and, more than anything else, making style simple and accessible in every area of the home. 

Erin has shared her design expertise on programs including CityLine, Breakfast Television, Global TV, Rogers Cable and CFRB 1010.



What was your favourite class in high school? Why?
Home Economics. My late mother was a fabulous sewer and I aspired to sew like her. Alas, it was not to be – I didn’t have the patience!

How did you get your start as an editor?
Since my first stint as the editor of my high school yearbook, I have never not been “editing” something.

If you weren’t a Media, Darling, what would you be doing right now?
Horse breeder.

Pitching or follow up: Phone or email?
Absolutely email.

We know irrelevant pitches, calling you the wrong name and eight follow-ups are no-no’s; what else should publicists avoid doing?
Sending samples in giant and complicated layers of witty packaging. The products should be strong enough on their own without the accompanying recycling disaster.

Sunrise or sunset? Can I say both?
Scent? Not for me, but I love the smell of my husband’s Mennen Speedstick. Who knew?
Cookie? Peanut butter Larabar.
Flower? Peony.
Ticklish? Sometimes during a pedicure.
Shower or bath? Bath.
Crush? Mark Darcy.
First job? Editorial assistant at TV Guide magazine.
Inspiration? Every time I open my eyes.