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.




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Media, Darling: Melanie Ng

As a field reporter for CityNews, Melanie Ng hits the streets to bring
viewers the latest in news and events from across Toronto and the GTA.



Working with the media on a daily basis in her previous career in the
fast-paced world of PR, Melanie knew her true calling was in broadcasting and
enrolled in the postgraduate Broadcast Journalism program at Seneca College at
York University. Her next challenge took her to a new level…hundreds of feet up
high in a helicopter! As a reporter at the Canadian Traffic Network, Melanie
provided breaking news and traffic reports for CHCH News, Global News and local
radio stations. Melanie was a weekend news anchor and videographer at CHCH
before finding a home as a field reporter at Citytv in October 2010.

Melanie Ng grew up in Oakville and graduated from Wilfrid Laurier University
with a double honours degree in Communication Studies and English, and a minor
in History. Melanie went on to complete a postgraduate certificate in Public
Relations from Humber College, graduating with honours.




Did
you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the
horizon?
Growing up, I was always drawn to the
media, specifically news. I knew that I
somehow wanted to work in the field – I just wasn’t sure where I saw
myself. After my first career in public
relations, I realized my heart was in reporting

Where
would you like to be five years from now?
Still being able to tell stories that
matter and feeling like I’ve made a difference.

Any
advice for people getting started in your industry?
Be ready for a challenge. Things won’t always go as planned, but you’ve
got to roll with the punches. Most
importantly, don’t forget who you are.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
I dabble in everything.

Best
interview you’ve ever had? 
Too many to mention. While I have had some fun celebrity
interviews, I find the most interesting stories come from everyday people.

Worst? 
I’ve talked to many grieving families
who’ve lost loved ones. It never gets easier seeing the unbelievable pain
they’re going through. However, if
they’re willing to share their story, those interviews can sometimes be the
most powerful.

Best
advice you’ve ever been given? 
Just be yourself.

What rule(s) do you live your life by? 
Follow your heart. The rest will fall into place.

What’s
the most important tip you can give PR pros? 
Underpromise and overdeliver. Be aware of journalist deadlines and think of
creative solutions if your original plan doesn’t pan out.

Best
experience you’ve had with a PR pro? 
I was on a tight timeline to jam a number
of elements into a story.  I thought I’d
have to reach out to a several companies, but one PR rep saw what I needed and
was able to coordinate everything in a couple stops.  It was a great example of going above and
beyond.

I hate? 
When people are inconsiderate. 

I love? 
A good laugh. Friends. Seafood. Wine. Dogs. Reality
TV.

Reading? 
The first 30 pages of several books. It takes a lot to pull me in and keep me
interested.

Best place on earth? 
Curled up under cozy sheets with no alarm
clock set.

Dinner
guest?
My grandparents who passed away before I
could meet them.

Hero? 
My mom. 

Favourite
app (or whatever you are downloading these days)? 
Any game apps that involve trivia or word
puzzles.  Yes, I’m sort of a dork.

Pool or
ocean? 
Definitely ocean.

Voicemail
or email? 
I like sending email, but receiving
voicemail.

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.