Media, Darling: Adina Goldman

Adina Goldman is
senior editor at iVillage Canada,
the web’s oldest and largest content-driven community for women. Most of her
career has involved writing, editing and producing digital content for various
media properties, from television (CHUM/CTV) to public radio (CBC Toronto). She
is passionate about the intersection of technology and storytelling. As someone
who’s kept a blog for 12 years and obsessively updates her social media feeds,
she finds it weirdly difficult to write her own bio. But perhaps that’s because
she’s writing it in the third person…

Photo credit: Rannie Turingan

Twitter: @ponyup @iVillageCanada 

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

I went to school for
creative writing, but oddly they were not snatching up poets at recruitment
agencies. Like so many kids with English degrees, I did some freelance and
copywriting, and even played with the idea of advertising. But I was really
lucky with timing, because this thing called The Internet happened. And there
was suddenly a niche of web content where they kind of let you do your own
thing, as long as you put it on the “Web Page”. I hope it’s not a passing fad.

Where would you like
to be five years from now?

I want to be working
wherever people are playful with new technology platforms and using them to
tell great stories.

Any advice for people
getting started in your industry?
This is the best time
in history to share your creations. Make stuff yourself, get your voice out
there and build your community! If you’re reasonably sure you’re in the right
field, imagine the future of your industry five years from now, and point your
efforts in that direction.

What are your
favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I think much of what
we consume these days is via social media. We rely on our friends to recommend
parse the daily deluge of information. That said, we are CBC radio
junkies at our house, but I listen to a lot of NPR podcasts when I’m cooking or
on the go. I love all the city blogs, like Torontoist
and The Toronto Standard
for their creative local coverage. For writer-y stuff, I love The Rumpus, The New Yorker and The Walrus.
My sister co-founded, a great and
popular alternative source for Middle East news.

Style: I am a sucker
for The
(although there are so many amazing Canadian
fashion bloggers
). Music: Huffpo
does a snacky mix of popular culture and current events. is my favourite recipe resource
these days. Also, I read People
religiously. Channing Tatum FTW.

Best interview you’ve
ever had?
I used to be web
producer for SPACE, so I had
the opportunity to meet and interview people who are a Big Deal in the genre
universe but often go unnoticed in the mainstream. They were the coolest
interview subjects hands-down because they had such a great sense of humour and
humility about their celebrity.

Isn’t there only such
thing as a bad journalist? Maybe I need to do more interviews.

Best advice you’ve
ever been given?
Use fewer adjectives
and avoid restaurants where they have pictures of their food on the menu.

What rule(s) do you
live your life by?
Don’t believe
everything you read in the comments section.

What’s the most
important tip you can give PR pros?
If you want me to
take a product seriously, avoid writing about it in pink comic sans font. Send
attachments rather than embedded images in the email body. And maybe try to
look a little dishevelled every now and then when you see me so that I don’t
feel like such a schlump.

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

I have so much
respect for the PR pros in my life. How are you always so nice and remember my
name? How do you always look so polished? How do you not suffer from post-event
social fatigue? I can’t pick a favourite, only to say that the best experiences
always have a good measure of authenticity and genuine enthusiasm for the

I hate?
Misused apostrophes.

I love?
People who sing when
they ride their bikes.

I recently finished Wild
by Cheryl Strayed.
Oprah and I have excellent taste, it is a stunning read. Caitlin Moran’s How
to Be a Woman
was hilarious and edifying. Read it now if you’ve ever hemmed
and hawed when asked whether you’re a feminist.

Best place on earth?
Cooking dinner with
my family, listening to music, my five year-old singing along at the top of his

Dinner guest?
Oh, I love to host
dinner parties. Would you like to come?

Funny you should
mention this. I am in the market for a new hero. Accepting applications
via my twitter feed @ponyup.

Favourite app (or
whatever you are downloading these days)?
I recently used the Couch to 5K app (C25K) app for
nine weeks and it turned me into a (slow but dedicated) runner. If you know me
at all, you will appreciate the mystical power of this app.

Pool or ocean?
Am I holding a cocktail
in this scenario?

Voicemail or email?
I check my phone
messages once a week. How patient are you?


Media, Darling: Kevin Sweet

Kevin Sweet is the arts reporter and theatre critic for Le Téléjournal Ontario, Radio-Canada’s nightly television newscast.
He is also featured every Thursday on
CBC News Toronto at 11.

In 2006, a documentary he co-produced about the
Rwandan genocide earned him a national journalism award as well as an
international broadcasting award from the New York Festivals.

Kevin has been with the nation’s public broadcaster for the
past 10 years. Six of those were spent as an arts reporter and theatre critic in
Edmonton, Alberta.

An Anglophone from Québec, he is fluent in both French and English.

Twitter: @sweetonarts

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other
careers were on
the horizon?
I always knew that I’d do something artistic and related to
performance, but 
what shape that would take didn’t clearly articulate itself
university. As a child I remember at one point wanting to be
a teacher;
 would always set up a mock classroom in our garage. Then as I got older,
I became 
fascinated by choreography. Like most people my age I remember
Michael Jackson videos and trying to recreate his dance
moves in our 
basement.  And then I
became obsessed with watching figure skating.
 Kurt Browning and Kristi Yamaguchi were childhood heroes of mine.
But I never 
became a dancer or a skater. Then, when college came around, I thought I’d follow in my sister’s steps and become a psychologist. But
I’ve never been 
good in math or sciences, two pre-requisites for the
 So, in university I decided to do a bachelor’s degree in communications. It was a
wide ranging enough 
program that I was able to touch on a lot of things,
including broadcasting. 
And, well, as they say…the rest is history. Through hard work and opening myself to being guided by the right people and their advice,
here I am. So 
now, even though I never knew that I wanted to be a
broadcaster, I couldn’t 
see myself doing anything else. (PS – I still sometimes
dance to Michael 
Jackson music by myself, in my living room. Believe me, I
can still bust a 

Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’ve always dreamed of having my own talk-show, either on
TV or radio. 
Anything that allows me to interview people and get to know
them well. 
Sometimes TV news is so rushed and fickle. A sound-bite
never allows you to 
go in-depth.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Work hard, but remember to make time for yourself and friends
– someone who’s 
happy in life will be happy at work. Be curious. It’s not always about who you know but WHAT you know. Constantly ask for feedback, be open to constructive criticism and then challenge yourself with it.
Offer feedback 
to people who are working with you. Say yes to every single
opportunity that 
is offered to you, even though it seems like grunt work that
doesn’t quite 
match your goals. Be yourself. People watching or listening
at home can tell 
when you aren’t. Always apologize when you screw up –
character is built by 
successes and mistakes. Take time to recognize when someone has done a good job, they in turn will validate someone else’s work. Know what you want, and say it – people will always align with a vision that is
clearly. A French producer once told me “organize yourself, before someone else does it for you.”

What are your
favourite media 
outlets, not including your own? 
On a daily basis I read the arts sections of the Toronto Star, the Globe
and Mail
, the 
National Post, the Huffington Post and La Presse. At night,
before bed, I’ll 
usually go back and skim through the headlines (because in
some shape or 
form, news informs art). And I gotta vouch for my own team here: I can’t start my
morning without 
Matt Galloway, The Current and Jian Ghomeshi’s daily

Best interview you’ve ever had? 
Adele. She said she found
herself talking 
about things she wouldn’t even tell her mum.

Norah Jones. Yes, really! I was surprised too!

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
From my mom: Be a nice person, see every day as a gift, and
make sure that 
whatever talent you’ve been given is used to accomplish
something good. And 
from a university professor: When you want something done,
give it to 
someone who’s already busy.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Curiosity and empathy. When we are curious about others, we learn more about them and the easier it becomes to empathize. Honesty: mean what you say, and say what you mean. Be responsible for your own
actions and your 
life. Listen: to others and yourself.  Be self-aware: self-awareness is the first step to self-accomplishment. Be on time.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
I am not your mouth piece. You are not my bitch. We work together.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear
about #wins.
I vividly remember getting out of bed one night at midnight
to answer an 
email. I didn’t know who the bigger loser was: me for
answering, or the 
person who was still at work at that hour. But because you develop a friendship and respect for one another, it isn’t something
you mind doing. 
It’s like getting a text message from a buddy. And, all the peeps at TIFF are pros. Class all around, grace
under fire. A 
huge event, but they make you feel like family.

I hate?
People who can’t communicate properly.

I love?
Debating ideas.

At the
moment I’m reading Ken Follett’s Pillars of the Earth
It’s my third attempt at reading this mammoth 975-page novel
about the 
building of a cathedral in the 12th century.

Best place on earth? 
Anywhere there isn’t cellphone
reception and time to do 
nothing but get lost in a book.

Dinner guest?
I’d love to sit down with Alanis Morissette and God.

My mother. For
raising three kids alone and not letting them stray 
off the right path.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)? 
“Camera +”…a nifty little app that allows you to edit your pictures in
your iPhone. You
almost feel like a professional photographer.

Pool or ocean? 
Ocean, always. As long as there is a beach close by. I’m terrified of being out in open water, especially at night.

Voicemail or email? 
Email. The written word is beautiful.

Theatre show in the fall season you’re most looking forward
Honestly, all of them. Always go into a play with no expectations, and
allow yourself 
to be surprised. It’s one of the only art forms where you
are really an 
important part of the process.

Media, Darling: Richard Ouzounian

Richard Ouzounian is currently the theatre critic at the Toronto Star, Canada’s largest daily newspaper, as well as the Canadian theatre reporter and critic for Variety, “the bible of show business”.

Richard has worked in the arts professionally for 39 years. In that time, he has written, directed, or acted in more than 250 productions, served as artistic director of five major Canadian theatres, been an associate director of the Stratford Festival of Canada for four seasons, and was Harold Prince’s assistant on the original Toronto production of The Phantom of the Opera.

From 1990 through 2004, he hosted CBC’s weekly radio program on musical theatre called Say It With Music and from 1995 to 2000, served as creative head of arts programming at TVOntario.

Ouzounian has published six books, including a collection of his celebrity interviews, titled Are You Trying To Seduce Me, Miss Turner?. He has been married for 34 years and has two children, Kat and Michael.

Twitter: @TorontoStar

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

I was always fascinated by the thought of being a theatre critic/celebrity interviewer from an early age, but not a lot of jobs for teenagers in those ranks, so I went into theatre and worked successfully as an actor, writer, director and artistic director for 20 years before shifting into media.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
Exactly where I am now. Okay, 10 pounds lighter.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Learn as much as you can about the art form you’re interested in covering. Don’t just soak up media reports about it. Get out and meet as many people in the business as you can and don’t just live behind a computer screen. Network, network, network.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
The New York Times,, Variety, The Daily Show, Q (big Jian Ghomeshi fan).

Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?
The best: Richard Harris, shortly before he died. I interviewed him on a day when he just felt like letting his hair down and discussing everything he’d been through. Kind of a “let’s clear the slate” sort of thing.

The worst: Katie Holmes, after Dawson’s Creek, before Tom Cruise. She was very sweet and polite but she answered every question I asked her about Pieces of April (the movie she was promoting) or Dawson’s Creek (which had just ended its run) with monosyllables.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Do TONS of research, and then don’t bring your research notes into the interview. Memorize them. Make the subjects think it’s a conversation.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Don’t do anything in print (or on the air) that you wouldn’t want done to you by someone else.

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
No means no. Once I’ve told them I can’t or won’t do a piece, I hate being nudged.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Matt Polk at Boneau Bryan-Brown (major New York theatre PR company) has worked miracles for me time and time again getting me lengthy 1:1 interviews with the likes of Antonio Banderas, Kristin Chenoweth and Kiefer Sutherland when all others were being denied. He just asks me to be patient and keep as many avenues of time open for him as possible and he then makes magic happen. It’s a great example of a collaborative relationship.

I hate?
Rain. Duplicity. Negativity.

I love?
Great food, Stephen Sondheim’s musicals. My family.

Historical biographies. Just finished Edmund Morris’s trilogy on Theodore Roosevelt.

Best place on earth?
Perth, Australia.

Dinner guest?
William Shakespeare.

Walter Kerr (New York theatre critic from 1951 to 1983).

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

Pool or ocean?
Ocean (Atlantic preferred).

Voicemail or email?
Email, email, email. Or texts.

Media, Darling: Ilana Banks

Ilana Banks is a producer for CBC News: Entertainment, where she works with a dedicated team of journalists to produce uniquely Canadian arts & entertainment stories.
Banks cultivated her love for all things entertainment and pop culture related as the first high school intern at MuchMusic and has never looked back. Since then she has worked at CNN, directed a documentary in the Sudan, produced a youth-focused current affairs show at CTV, and various CBC Arts News programs.

Ilana working her magic with U2 and James McAvoy

Twitter: @IlanaBanks

How can someone grab your attention with a pitch?
I will certainly return a phone call or an email if a pitch is specifically tailored to our team. What does this mean? A pitch that understands what we do and how we do it. We are not here to sell a product or event, but if you have a cool event or pitch with a news hook that you have researched, then we can tell the story.

Another critical point: we are a national news network. We report on stories that must appeal to Canadians, not just Torontonians, so craft a pitch that includes information about how your story idea could be of national interest. Another excellent way to grab my attention? Offer our team something unique – some type of special angle, access, or a way to involve our reporters in the story. We are looking to take our audience behind the scenes and reveal a story that they cannot see on another show or network.

What do you find most useful when dealing with public relations professionals?
I almost fell off my chair a few weeks ago when a publicist sent a confirmation of our interview with the time and exact location in the building where our interview would take place. She even told me what the room looked and how many windows it had, so our camera man could bring the right lighting kit. I know this doesn’t sound revolutionary but this almost never happens, yet it is so simple and so useful. It is always best to provide as many details as you can, the less surprises, the better, for all of us.

What is the biggest mistake PR professionals make?
Not tailoring a pitch to our network and news programming. Very few name our reporters or display any knowledge of our programming or previous stories.

Your pet peeve?
Everything I mentioned my previous answer. Oh, and getting pitches for the show our team used to produce but has been off the air for years! My other pet peeve is when a publicist tries to control the angle of our story. I understand their job is to protect their client, but when you are approaching a large news organization like CBC with a story, there has to be certain amount of trust and understanding that we are looking to provide a balanced and accurate news story.

Any other thoughts you’d like to add?
I love when a PR professional really “gets it” – when they have taken the time to do a little research and we can work together to get a great story out to Canadians.