Media, Darling: Doug O’Neill

Doug O’Neill is the executive editor of Canadian Living magazine,
where he also produces the weekly Travel Talk blog.  Doug’s career in
magazines has taken him to a slew of Canadian titles including Toronto Life, TV
GUIDE
, Homemakers, and he’s also freelanced for a variety of Canadian and
American magazines. He most recently taught “Service Journalism” in
the Magazine Publishing Program at Ryerson University.




Did
you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the
horizon?
I‘ve
always been smitten with words. Storytelling was part of my Gaelic heritage.
But for some reason, I took a detour and studied environmental science at
university. Two semesters spent mucking about swamps was all I needed and I
transferred to the English department. After graduation I made a bee-line for
the magazine world.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’d like to be in a position that
enables me to work overseas for chunks of the year. I spent seven months in
Paris in the mid-1990s and it was a daily brain-twister – and a lot of fun. A
project (long-term or short-term) that would take me to Asia would turn my
crank.
Any advice for people getting started in
your industry?
Follow your gut. If you have a
quirky interest, make time for it. Those signature passions are what define you. No job is 100% perfect – but make sure one part of your job is a
perfect fit for you. And play with technology, even if you’re technophobic.
New gadgetry will unleash more creativity.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including
your own? 
Podcasts: Ted Talks, CBC’s “Definitely Not the Opera” and “The Amateur Traveler.” Print magazines (in no
particular order):  Afar (travel), Vanity Fair, Geez (new age, alternative
spirituality), GourmetNational Geographic, Globe
and Mail
Focus section (and anything penned by Elizabeth Renzetti), Food &
Drink
(for the pretty pictures), Enroute and the Springwater News (the
tiny community weekly that covers my home town – my aunt buys me a subscription
each year). Digital – where do I begin? Too many to mention but a
few off the top include Tyee, Spacing,  Macleans.ca (I still can’t read
the print version but love what they’re doing digitally), Toque & Canoe,
and the social media/community sections of CBC.ca (their news packaging has
been dull of late, but some great bloggers right now!).
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Irish
singer Sinead O’Connor.  She swore, then I swore, we both swore. I swear
it was the best interview ever. We talked about religion and dysfunctional
families.
Worst?
Margaret
Atwood. I was a junior researcher at Toronto Life in the mid-1980s. Ms. Atwood
answered the phone by saying,  “So, what’s your problem?”. I was quaking in my Birkenstocks.
Best
advice you’ve ever been given?
From a former boss/mentor:
“Keep asking yourself questions. Invite your inner editor to perch behind
your ear and  then listen to him/her. You discover your best answers when
the questions come from within.”
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
I’d like to say I live by this
rule, but sometimes I falter. In short:  Do what you want – not what
you should. If you do as you ‘should,’ sure you could probably have a really
good job. Do as you ‘really want’ – and you’ve got an amazing career you
absolutely love.
What’s the most important tip you can give
PR pros?

Don’t
be dismayed if we don’t return your call or reply to your email right away. If
we like your pitch, we’ll definitely get in touch. It just may not be the right
moment. 
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We
love to hear about #wins.

I
worked on an intensive editorial partnership at the London Olympics sponsored
by P&G. Their on-the-ground team, Toronto-based MSL Canada, frequently used
a phrase that is pure magic to media: “Okay, Doug, we’re going to leave
you alone now so you can do what you’ve gotta do.”  H-E-A-V-E-N. They
knew when to pull back. Some PR folks tend to shadow media a little too much at
 media events and when working on projects. The MSL team were there when I
needed them, and then gave me the autonomy I required to get my story. It
worked for everyone. (Oh, and if you’re going to sit in on interviews — be sure
to ask the interviewer in advance if that is okay.)
I
hate?
#1. Mid-day PR luncheons.
 They wreak havoc on the schedule – and my tummy. Immediately after work
is so much better.
#2. Shopping – unless it’s for
kitchen gadgets and travel accessories.
#3. Small talk.
I love?
#1.When PR folks make a specific
reference to a recent editorial item in the print mag or online. It shows they
really know us.
#2. Patsy Cline. And not just
because we share the same birthday.
#2. My Bose iPod dock.
Reading?
I tend to read a few books at
once, but not all of the same genre. Currently: Linden MacIntyre’s Why Men Lie (fiction, not a self-help book!),  Rita Golden Gelman’s Tales of a Female Nomad (a travel memoir), and Naomi Duguid’s Burma: Rivers of Flavours (food meets history.)
Best place on earth?
A toss-up: Haida Gwaii off
Northern British Columbia or Southern India.
Dinner
guest?
Annie Lennox.
Hero?
Jane Goodall because she is
forever breaking the mould. And my late Dad, who single-handedly raised eight kids
on his own. He, too, broke the mould.
Favourite
app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Packing Pro. Seriously, I can pack
for a 10-day trip with no stress, no fuss. I simply do what my Packing app
tells me.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean, preferably at dawn.
Voicemail
or email?
Email. 





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Media, Darling: Susan Antonacci

Susan has been working in publishing and media for over 25 years.
 Prior to becoming editor-in-chief at Canadian Living, she held the position of 
managing editor of Canadian Living and Homemakers Magazine. Susan is 
married with two children, aged 22 and 25. She is co-chairman of Heart and Music, supports SOS (Students Offering Support), and works with Free the Children, Breakfast for Learning, St. Mary’s Food Bank and other charitable foundations. She also works to promote the importance of the arts in school curriculum’s across Canada.



Canadian Living is a dynamic, contemporary, engaging brand that touches
 on all aspects of the busy lives of today’s Canadian women. Susan believes 
that women choose Canadian Living because the brand works hard to respect who their readers are, how busy their lives are and offers them accessible ideas, solutions and stories that will inspire and engage them and help them make the most of their day-to-day lives.
Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I always thought music would play a role in my life. I sang competitively as a child and was even in a rock band in my early 20s and really wanted to “make it big!”. Unfortunately, it soon became clear that I needed more than $35 a week to live. I was only willing to starve for my art for so long.

I also worked at a radio station for a short time and thought I’d like to be a radio personality. Though it’s been a running joke for years with friends that with my voice, I could have considered call-in centres of an entirely different kind.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
I can honestly say that I would be most happy if I was right where I am now — at Canadian Living. I couldn’t work with a better team, I love the brand, I love our readers. However, I’m fortunate to also love the business side of publishing, so who knows what five years will bring?
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Take an internship! I know there’s been a lot discussed these days about the merits of interning, but I really feel that it is the best hands-on experience you can get. It is the only time in your career that you can request working in different sections (of a magazine, newspaper or online) to really get a feel for what works for you and what you enjoy.

It’s also extremely important to understand the online side of the industry, from blog posts to social media. It’s an ever-evolving industry that has certainly experienced a lot of change in the last few years, so it’s important to be able to go with the flow and learn as much as you can to keep up!
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
I am a news junkie, and I always start my day with reading the Toronto Star and the Globe and Mail, and I watch and listen to CBC whenever I can. I am a big Jian Gomeshi fan!

And about once a week, usually on the weekends, I spend time reading the New York Times and the New Yorker online, along with food blogs and guilty pleasure blogs, often ones that mostly show pictures of cute puppies and kittens doing cute puppy and kitten things. 
Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?
A few years ago I was invited to be a moderator at the Canadian premiere of Food Inc, a documentary about the food we eat based on the book by Michael Pollen. This was at a theatre downtown and some of the people in the film, including Michael Pollen, stayed for a Q-and-A session. The crowd was very receptive to the film and we had a lively discussion about it. I was lucky to be asked to take part.
As for my worst interview, I’d have to say it was when I had a few minutes with Martha Stewart in the middle of the paint aisle at a major retail outlet in Toronto. It was so rushed and hard to settle into, and it was Martha freakin’ Stewart! I was trying to come across calm and cool but instead I was nervous and sweaty. I’d love a do-over. 
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Salt, tequila, lemon! And if that doesn’t work, treat people how you want to be treated. I know it’s such a cliché but my mom always used to say this to me and I truly believe that in the larger, karmic way of how things go, life is just more pleasant when you treat everyone with love and respect, and it makes it more likely you’ll get it in return.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
It’s taken me a long time to learn this, but I try to let go of negative things and thoughts. That goes for my personal and professional life. I used to really let it get to me but it’s just not worth carrying that kind of baggage around. Think positive, be positive.
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
I work with many PR reps and I’d say the most important tip I can offer is for them to understand that we must consider editorial integrity first and foremost. Pitch the idea or concept and let us determine whether it’s the right fit for our reader/audience.

It’s also more pleasant when they’re not too pushy.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
John MacKay from MacKay and Co — every interaction I’ve had with him has been positive. His approach is a soft-sell, he has great ideas and does his research on the media outlet that he’s approaching. He is the ultimate connoisseur in his field. He’s been bang on in regard to Reitman’s and Tiffany this year. The guy is top-notch.
I hate?
Bananas! And any baked goods bananas can hide in.
I love?
My husband, Greg, my children and my dog Scooter McGee (not always in that order!). I’d also add licorice, fudge, PEI, and farmers’ markets to the list.
Reading?
Sweetness At The Bottom Of The Pie by Alan Bradley.
Best place on earth?
That’s a tough one, but Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island comes to mind first, so I’m sticking with it. 
Dinner guest?
Izzeldin Abuelaish, a Palestinian doctor who wrote a book that I often refer back to, I Shall Not Hate. And Elie Wiesel, a Nobel Laureate who has written about his experience as a teenager during the Holocaust. I’d have us sit down for dinner and figure this whole Middle East peace process out.
Hero?
That’s another tough one. I think anyone who sees an injustice and has the guts to stand up to it is a hero. Craig Kielburger, the founder of Free The Children, comes to mind. Here’s a guy who was just 12 years old when he first read about children rights issues in Pakistan. He was so bothered by these sweatshops that he went on a mission to change it. I love that.  His brother, Marc runs a close second.
Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
Twitter, and some newspaper apps.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean! I used to scuba dive and I’ve always loved swimming in such vast, open spaces. I love knowing I’m sharing the space with millions of other creatures, many of which haven’t even been discovered yet.
Voicemail or email?
I’m cool with either.