Media, Darling: Shinan Govani

Shinan Govani is the National Post‘s resident snoop and people watcher. In addition to frequent television appearances and being Page Six‘s “go-to-Canadian,” Govani has also appeared in such publications as Salon, Details, New York, Fashion, and enRoute. “Shinan is to celebrity what the Bank of Canada is to the dollar,” Toronto Life once said. His beat has him meandering across umpteenth different types of scenes, in Canada and beyond, whether it’s the Art Basel scene in Miami, Fashion Week in Paris, the film festival circuit c/o Sundance/Cannes/Toronto, the society set, the chef crowd, etc. Earlier this year, he attended Vanity Fair‘s famous Oscar night party in L.A. – the only Canadian journalist to be invited inside the party.


Photo Credit: Sisi Penaloza
Website: National Post
Twitter: @shinangovani, @nationalpost


Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
I can’t remember not being a media-phile and know-it-all, but I didn’t always know how it would translate into a career. Always had varied interests – including politics, culture, style, food – and the great thing about journalism, per se, is that one can minor in all those subjects at once, if one wishes. More specifically, for me, most of my interests in all subjects pivoted around the people in various tribes, so winding up with the kind of column I write is no accident. I’ve always subscribed to Jonathan Swift’s famous dictum: “Character is plot,” i.e. I believe all great stories – be they world events, or tabloid tales, or what not – come down to people. Their vanities, their hang-ups, their childhoods, their reaches for validation, etc.
I will also add that I was always the guy who’d have anxiety attacks when I passed newsstands, fretting about what I hadn’t yet read, as well as the kid with the flashlight under the blanket reading a book way, way after bedtime.
Where would you like to be five years from now?
More books, for sure (my first novel, Boldface Names, came out a few years ago). I’d like to maybe take a stab at writing biographies at some point. Also, I want to continue to give back, socially-speaking, having played in this crazy playground for so many years – continue to contribute in causes such as AMFAR (I co-chaired its annual gala in Toronto for two years, through which we raised close to two million dollars). I want to go live in Venice, Italy for a spell, but in the winter. I see it very clearly: Venice. In the winter. When the hordes of tourists have poofed, and the city is supposed to be the most hypnotic (it’s when the moisture from the sea hits the chill, creating a haze off the canals that filters the suns into variations of pink and gold). 
Also: I’d like to get around to making bread. But just once.
Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Read and write. And write and read.
What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
I am a veritable Cookie Monster when it comes to media-consumption, so, in addition to many of the obvious (the Page Six-es and the Vanity Fairs) I’ll just throw a few things, at the top of my head, and in no particular order: some fun podcasts on KCRW, out of L.A., including Elvis Mitchell’s showbiz-insider, ‘The Treatment’ as well as the quite charming ‘Good Food’; Tatler out of the U.K. (required reading in my field); the weekend Financial Times (love the ‘Lunch With’ column, and David Tang’s high-larious advice column!); anything Camille Paglia or Ingrid Sischy or Bob Collacello; everything Daily Mail; the Daily Beast (much better curated than the Huffington Post); the Great Lives series on BBC4; columnists, far and wide, like Maureen Dowd, David Carr and Cathy Horyn in the New York Times, AA Gill in the London Times, Emily Nussbaum and Anthony Lane in The New Yorker, Mike Musto in The Village Voice; Arts & Letters Daily online; the Slate Culture Gabfest; Fashion Police on E! (I would never dare miss an episode!); Hardball; Rachel Maddow; the ‘At Issue’ panel on CBC’s The National; all the great aggregators on New York mag (The Cut, Grub Street, Vulture, etc); NewYorkSocialDiary.com (where the great gossipist Liz Smith still is going and writing!); Barbara Amiel in Maclean’s (I won’t even try to resist!)…NPR’s ‘Fresh Air’ (I worship Terri Gross!)…AdweekSalonPolitico…Richard Lawson on theatlantic.com…Jason Gay on tennis in the Wall Street Journal…Roger Friedman’s Showbiz 411 column online…and it goes on. (Oh, how I miss Christopher Hitchens).
Special shout-out to Bon Appetit magazine, which, I believe, is the most-improved glossy, with Adam Rapport as editor. In many ways, it’s the best culture mag out there!
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Having tea with Jackie Collins, one-on-one inside the Plaza Athene in New York, was pretty nifty. But maybe ’cause it was just last month that I remember it so fondly. (I’ve been at this for a while!)
Worst?
Linda Evangelista. What a bore! Definitely proof positive that models, in most cases, lose all their power when they speak.
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
Plus ça change. Also: “You’re never as good as your best review, and never as bad as your worst.”e
As Good As Your Best Review, And Never As Bad As Your Worst’ –
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Oh, why the hell not?
What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Bikram yoga.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
All my best experiences with PR pros have occurred through genuine relationships developed over my years of doing this. Let me be frank: in the context of a social column, it’s all about back-scratching and, well, that thing called chemistry. A press release is probably the least effective way of getting my attention. A publicist who can craft a story angle, or at least lead the horse (me!) to water with it, will definitely get my attention faster. A publicist who has given me a scoop on a matter something/someone that’s not a client, or is occasionally the source of intel, will get my attention when they need something from me! More specifically: my particular column is all boldface-oriented, so a fast-thinking PR will mould a story, or a mention, in a way that has boldface potential. In New York or L.A., when I hear from PRs, they’ll often send me the pitch, in proper paragraph form, having boldfaced the names in themselves, so I immediately get the pic. This doesn’t happen often in Toronto.
I hate?
Debbie Downers. And raisins.
I love?
People who can see and appreciate all the colours. And spicy food that makes me weep.
Reading?
Crazy Rich Asians, an advance-copy of a novel that I think is going to be huge. It’s out in June. It’s kind of like a Chinese Dallas meets a Chinese Real Housewives meets a Chinese Royal Tenenbaums. I also have a pretty interesting biography on the go: Constance: The Tragic and Scandalous Life of Mrs. Oscar Wilde.
Best place on earth?
The Maldives – primarily because I’ve never been. (The mind provides the best excursions!)
Hero?
Victoria Grayson.
Pool or ocean?
Ocean.
Voicemail or email?
Email. (Or tweet!)

Media, Darling: Miranda Purves

Miranda Purves was appointed Editor of FLARE in
June 2012 and is responsible for evolving the editorial vision of the magazine
and leading the content team as it inspires Canadian fashion, beauty and style
enthusiasts.



A proud Canadian with an impressive 20-year international track record in the publishing industry, Purves spent 12 years honing her skills in New York. She was most recently with ELLE US where she was originally hired to establish a living section before being promoted several times, eventually to the position of lifestyle editor.


Purves previously spearheaded the launch of the stand-alone colour fashion newspaper US Fashion Daily and worked as a senior fashion editor at Mademoiselle. In Canada, she has worked for both Saturday Night and the National Post. Purves has also done freelance writing for the likes of the New York Times and the Paris Review.

Self portrait from my corporate bathroom series. Took a
photo of myself in the same mirror everyday of my first six months at Flare.



Twitter: @FLAREfashion
Website: Flare.com

Did you always want to be in the media? If not, what other
careers were on the horizon?
I’ve always wanted to charm, surprise or move, and be
charmed and surprised or moved, by the intersection of words and images. And
I’ve always wanted to be, if not at the centre, at least on the periphery of
*the* conversation. The media is where that took me.

Where would you like to be five years from now?
As I wrote in an editor’s letter a few issues ago, I’d like
be furthering causes of environmental and social justice more than I am now.
Less grandly, I’d also like to have reached some work-life balance that would
allow me to work out more regularly. I used to be low level but consistent, but
these days I can’t seem to make the time. I’m terrified to hit my fifties
without more muscle mass. After 40 it’s all erosion. You’re so much better off
having more to erode.

Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
Be dogged and be rigorous, make sure your resume looks good,
fits on one page and is grammatically consistent. Don’t send unnecessary emails
to busy people, be useful to them and try to empathize rather than personalize.
Hone your craft however and whenever you can.

What are your favourite media outlets, not including your
own?
 
Man, that’s too hard! I scour tons of print media, mostly
what you’d expect: The Grid and Toronto Life are both fantastic, Globe and
Mail
, Toronto Star (their metro reporting kicks a**), New York Times and the
magazines (am awed by Deborah Needleman’s surgical redo of T even as I mourn
Sally Singer), New York, New Yorker, Paris Review, TLS, New York Review of Books when I find it, ELLE US (where I used to work; they have fantastic
features that don’t get nearly enough recognition, which I think is a weird
sexism) the British fashion mags, Worn, the recipes in Chatelaine, I’m enjoying
Vanity Fair after a long hiatus… I just like gorging. For several years New
York Magazine
was definitively my favorite but —this
is unfair – it’s so good that the so goodness gets old hat! Being at the
airport when the September Vogue has just dropped; it is embarrassing how happy
it makes me. Online: my brother’s smart, funny blog that intertwines his civic
and personal life in Montreal http://briquesduneige.blogspot.ca/.

Best interview you’ve ever had?
The artist Jenny Holzer, over emailI had to cut it down to a nubbin, but she is a genius and it
felt like a dance between us.
Worst? 
I don’t remember specifics because when an interview is bad
I blame myself and throw it into the vast ocean of self criticism that ebbs and
flows within.

Best advice you’ve ever been given?
So much of it is personal! My sister-in-law hipped me to the
adage “Never apologize, never explain,” and I call
on that in times of trouble.

What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Don’t work for capitalism, make capitalism work for you.
Love more, complain less (that’s not always in effect).

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
You can assume that if the story is one that makes sense for
that editor or that outlet, they will want it. All we need is the information.
We don’t need announcements on two-inch thick slabs of Lucite in heavy stock
boxes tied with ribbon. —It creates more work for the mail
room and custodial staff and is bad for the environment. And if it’s from an advertiser’s PR, we have
to pay attention, so that goes double.

Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear
about #wins.
Well, I was happy to get that righteous block of Parmesan
from Max Mara PR for Christmas. But aside from thoughtful edible gifts, it’s
satisfying when a story is personal and mutually beneficial. For the April
Flare (out now) we worked with Ann Watson, Club Monaco’s PR VP, on a well story
in which Peter Ash Lee shot the BC-born model Mackenzie Hamilton in Club M
mixed with other designers at the design director Caroline Belhumeur’s lovely
Victorian house, followed by a profile-ette of her. The catalyst was my own
curiosity. —I was impressed by their recent
ad campaigns and their clothes, so I investigated her and wanted to do
something that expressed something about what she was expressing in the
clothes. That led to her house. 

As a fashion magazine we’re pretty focused on
designers, but chains are what most of us can afford, and I like the way they
are starting to steer away from creating a faceless brand (Jenna Lyons!). The
shoot took a lot of trust (it was her house) as well as coordinating and
persistence because everyone involved had busy schedules, but Ann wasn’t scared
off by that. She knew the reality of making something special happen. It felt
warm and organic and I think that reads in the story, which is about both of
our stories, in a nice way.

I hate?
Man’s inhumanity to man and unnaturalness to nature. People
who gut houses of original detail and stick potlights everywhere. Egotism, bad
taste and a lack of imagination: horrible combination.
I love?
Watching my eldest son’s gesticulations that began when he
first started talking, persist. I want those hand gestures to never go away.
Professionally: my colleagues who bring real thought and care to their work. It
makes the days good.

Reading?
The second installment of Susan Sontag’s journal entries and
the latest Diana Vreeland bio.

Best place on earth?
Please! That answer can only be metaphorical and
metaphysical!  But right now I’m enjoying
bourgeoisie pleasure zones, such as the king size bed in our rental house when
my husband and two sons and I are all on it together snuggling, just before my
husband gets too grouchy and needs coffee, my two year old bangs his head
jumping, and my seven year old will not cease talking like a Pikachu (whose
language consists of pica over and over.) 

Hero?
There’s a long list: George Tiller, the abortion provider
murdered in Witchita, Kansas; Barbara Lee, the only person in the US congress
to vote against the Iraq war in 2002, Paul Watson, whale savior, … unionists, suffragettes, abolitionists, environmentalists,
all the people, now and throughout history, who conduct themselves with
inimitable bravery and tireless focus, for what they (and I) believe is right
and incrementally, maybe, help society evolve.

Dinner guests?
My friends are dauntingly adept conversationalists, I’m not
sure a famous figure could compete.

Favourite app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
I debated putting apps on my hate list.

Pool or ocean?
Ocean

Voicemail or email?
Email, except for maybe five specific voices for which I
would stop the earth at any moment to listen to over several repeats.

Media, Darling: Rebecca Tucker

Rebecca
Tucker is the online editor for arts and life at the
National Post. She
graduated from Ryerson’s four-year journalism program in 2009, before which
time she was a
Hillside Festival-attending, hemp purse-carrying resident of
Guelph, Ontario. She is an obsessive Anglophile and culinary enthusiast, with a
collection of cookbooks and kitchen gadgets to rival the best of ’em – and
a tattoo of
Pete Doherty (no foolin’).

She is
awful at Twitter, can play exactly two chords on the guitar and will ride a
bike anywhere so long as she doesn’t have to go uphill.


Twitter: @RebeccaTee @nparts 
Did you always want to be in the
media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
Not
always. When I was really little until about halfway through high school I was
sure I was destined for the sciences. But as it turns out I’m pretty crap at
math, which precluded me from all the important chemistry and physics
prerequisites. So here I am!
Where would you like to be five years
from now?
At a point
in my life where I don’t labour for any amount of time over tweeting the
perfect tweet. #twitterfail
Any advice for people getting started
in your industry?
Keep on
your toes and work as hard as your body will allow you, but don’t be afraid to
take time off. If you don’t let your ideas rest, they’ll never get stronger.
What are your favourite media outlets,
not including your own? 
I am a
shameless Gawker reader. I love their snark and always fall so short of the
mark in emulating their witticisms. Vulture and AV Club, and I bounce around a
lot between the Toronto alt-press — The Grid, NOW, Exclaim! etc. I actually
just bought myself a subscription to Toronto Life — 99% of the reading I do is
online media, so I’m excited to give myself a regular reason to power down.
Best interview you’ve ever had?
Actually,
I think it happened earlier this week – I got to talk to Anthony Bourdain
for the second time. He’s a personal hero for his uncompromising approach to,
well, everything. First time around I was disappointed with how starstruck I
was: I fumbled a lot of bad questions and chickened out of asking a lot of good
ones. This time, I swallowed the lump in my throat and approached it as a
conversation with someone whose writing I adore, opinions I value and passion
for food and travel I admire. It felt good.
Worst?
It was a
job interview. I’ll leave it at that.
  
Best advice you’ve ever been given?
“Spend
a lot once and you’ll spend less in the long run.” My nonna said it, and I
think it’s a useful thing to remember in a time when everything we buy can be
disposable: consider your purchases and make investments that will last, and
that you will love forever. Nobody owns heirlooms anymore! Besides, you’ll
spend a lot more time and money replacing that Ikea coffee table over and over
than you might on something that you could end up passing on.
That, and
“you can always add, but you can never take away.” Also from nonna,
but this time about salt.
What rule(s) do you live your life by?
You get
what you give. Seriously — it’s not just a dumb cliché  From cooking to working
to maintaining relationships — the effort you put in will be reflected in what
you get out.
What’s the most important tip you can
give PR pros?
Make sure
you address your email to the right person. Too many times I receive pitches
addressed to, I’m guessing, the last person the pitch was copy-and-pasted to.
It’s an immediate dismissal.
Best experience you’ve had with a PR
pro? We love to hear about #wins
.
Anything
that ends in food or drink samples, I consider a win.
I hate?
Bad subway
etiquette. It always surprises me when someone uses a seat for their purse or
won’t give up their seat for someone obviously in need, but I see it almost
every day. We’re all in this together, straphangers. Come on.
I love?
British
humour and cheese.
Reading?
I’m
actually trying to get through Anna Karenina — I told my boyfriend we weren’t
going to see the film until I’d read the book. Time is running out, though, and
I’m not exactly a speed-reader.
Best place on earth?
London,
England. See: “I love.” I’m also a shamefully rabid BritRock fan and
I fare better in cold and grey than warm and sunny.
Dinner guest?
When I was
a kid, the whole family — there were nine of us in total — used to regularly
get together on Sundays for dinner. I’d like to do that again, only with all
the spouses, kids and pets that have shown up along the way; it’s quite a few
more than nine at this point.
Hero?
Everyone’s
parents are their heroes, and so are mine for their selflessness, steadfastness
and unflappable senses of humour in the face of all the adversity my sister and
I have dealt them.
Favourite app (or whatever you are
downloading these days)?
I’m
hanging on to a very old phone, so apps are kind of out of the question right
now. I just downloaded and marathoned all of Homeland, however — I feel exactly
the same about Season 2 as everyone.

Pool or ocean?
Ocean.
Just no fish, please.
Voicemail or email?
I
literally never check my voicemail. Honest to God. Do not leave me a voicemail.






Media, Darling: Hannah Yakobi

Hannah Yakobi is an award-winning journalist and communications specialist.
Throughout her career, she has written for the
National Post, OK! Magazine,
Canwest newspaper network and dozens of publications worldwide. She is
currently the editor-in-chief of
FAJO Magazine, an international publication with staff in
Canada, U.S., U.K. and Italy.


Over the past decade, Yakobi has interviewed and photographed many fashion
and entertainment icons, including John Fluevog, Mariah Carey, Jeanne Beker,
Enrique Iglesias, Deepak Chopra, Catherine Malandrino, Paul Venoit and Bryan Adams. A graduate of Carleton University‘s renowned school of journalism,
Yakobi speaks four languages and has lived in five countries. In her free time,
she enjoys raising awareness and funds for various Canadian and international
charities.



Dress by David Dixon. Photography
by Robin Gartner for FAJO Magazine.



Twitter: @FajoMagazine,
@HannahYakobi

Web: www.fajomagazine.com 



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

My career trajectory was somewhat unpredictable: I wanted to be a ballet dancer when I was very young (who didn’t?), for many years I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer (I even took some courses)
and later I briefly thought psychology was the field for me. But then, at 18, I became a
reporter and have never looked back. 


Where would you like to be five years from now?
I’d like to continue to do exactly what I’m
doing now, but on an even larger scale.


Any advice for people getting started in your industry?
You need to be hard-working and dedicated. Some
people have an expectation that fashion is all about glamour and fabulous
parties – it certainly does have that, but in order to stay in this industry
for a long time, you need to earn it. Expect long hours and plenty of stress.
When you start, say “yes” to almost everything. And never be rude to anyone –
it’s a small industry and the word about bad behaviour travels fast. 


What are your favourite media outlets, not including your own? 
I grew up reading Harper’s Bazaar, so that
publication has always had a very special place in my heart. And I love the
British edition of Glamour, the small, mini-size version – I’ve been reading it
for years.


Best interview you’ve ever had?
Dominique Szabo, Senior Vice-President of Estee
Lauder. She was remarkable on every level.


Worst?
This is a hard question. I’ve had some
interviews that didn’t start on a good note. But almost always, after chatting
with each other, the interviewee and I were able to get the conversation
flowing.



Many of my friends who are also journalists
frequently tell me crazy stories about some of their interviews. I think I have
been lucky to never experience that. At least – not yet.   


Best advice you’ve ever been given?
“University education is very important” is what
my grandfather always used to say. When I got my degree, I understood the value
of those words.


What rule(s) do you live your life by?
Hard work pays off. 

What’s the most important tip you can give PR pros?
Do the research before you contact media folks.
If someone says they are not interested in a pitch, do not pressure them.
Maintain relationships with people. 


Best experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
The folks at National PR. They are quite
amazing.


I hate?
Cold weather, pretentious behaviour,
unprofessionalism. 


I love?
Charity work, hosting parties, travel and
getting my hair done. 


Reading?
About to re-read Life of Pi. Just saw the movie
in December and loved it, so decided to read the book again.  


Best place on earth?
Barcelona, Spain.

Dinner guest?
Valentino Garavani. I have great respect for
that man. 


Hero?
My mother. She is an incredible woman, who has
dedicated her life to my sister and I. She has had quite a spectacular career,
and always has incredible business ideas. 


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

Pool or ocean?
Can I say “the sea”? Mediterranean sea!

Voicemail or email?
If you want to chat, I’m on my phone. If you
want a response right away and it has to do with business, email is where you
can find me.

Media, Darling: Jessica Allen

Jessica Allen is an assistant editor at Maclean’s magazine where she writes and edits for the website in the areas of arts and culture, and makes podcasts and videos. After work, she maintains her personal food blog, Foodie and the Beast, and is the editor-in-chief of T Magazine, a bi-annual publication put out by Terroni restaurant, a Toronto Italian restaurant that she worked at for nearly a decade. During that time she completed a Master’s degree in the history of art at the University of Toronto and spent a year teaching art history in Florence, Italy. Jessica’s TIFF coverage in 2011, her first time reporting on the festival, earned Maclean’s a National Magazine Award nomination.


Did you
always want to be in the media? If not, what other careers were on the horizon?
Well, as a kid I really wanted to be a
cashier, a waitress or a writer because I loved cash registers and typewriters.
I was very good at pressing buttons. Some might even say gifted. I also used to
host my own radio show that I’d tape on a little cassette recorder from the
living room floor, in private, when I was seven. Topics included: Why does my
brother like Star Wars so much? How
do you make musical instruments from stuff you find in the kitchen? How do they
make those Strawberry Shortcake dolls smell so good? And…Holy s- – t. I just
realized I’ve been a cashier, a waitress, a writer and a podcast host, which is
kind of like being on the radio. I have achieved all my childhood dreams.

Where
would you like to be five years from now?
Surrounded by friends and family at an
intimate, modest book launch. And maybe the book would have my byline. Or maybe
not.  But it would still be a lovely evening
with wine, cheese (fancy kinds) and crackers that would all be FREE.

Any
advice for people getting started in your industry?
Most days I feel like I’m still getting
started. But for freelancers, I’d suggest avoiding emailing an editor with,
“I’d love to write for you. What are you looking for?” It’s just a bit vague.
Do a little homework and see what sort of stories are making the cut and then
pitch a specific idea. And ideally, those queries should reflect who the writer
is, that they can write and that they have a clear idea for a solid story. If
the pitch is vague, boring and poorly written, chances are, the story will be
too.

What
are your favourite media outlets, not including your own?
Right now I subscribe to three
publications: the New Yorker, the National Post and Bon
Appétit.
My dad suggested to me 15 years ago, when I was probably reading Sassy, to start reading the New Yorker: if you want to be a better
writer, he said, then read good writing and cross your fingers that some of
that fine craft on the page will be absorbed. I don’t read each issue
cover-to-cover, but man, does it manage to both entertain and enlighten. I love the ritual of first looking at the contents
and mapping out what I’ll read. I’ll usually jump to something by my favourite
contributors, like Amy Ozols, Tad Friend or Calvin Trillin. And I especially
love that the stuff I might resist reading at first, usually ends up being my
favourite. Reading the National Post
is my morning ritual. I like to think that it keeps me sharp because I don’t
always agree with the positions of the columnists and trying to articulate—or
at least think about—why that is, is a nice little exercise with morning
coffee. And since Adam Rapaport from GQ
came on board as editor-in-chief at Bon
Appétit,
I’ve been thrilled with that magazine. And I do love television but don’t have
cable so I just keep watching my favourite shows in rotation: The Sopranos, Deadwood and Northern
Exposure
.
Best
interview you’ve ever had?
This September on
the red carpet of a movie called Quartet
,
directed by Dustin Hoffman and starring Maggie Smith and Billy Connolly. We had
a chance to talk with all three of them on the red carpet for the film’s
premiere at TIFF.  And man oh man did
they bring it! That is how you do a
red carpet. And their enthusiasm, humour and professionalism made me feel a
little less sympathetic to other celebrities who slinked their way down the
carpet, with little verve or vigour, giving one word answers.
Worst?
I once had a scheduled phone interview
with a Toronto chef of international renown. He didn’t answer my first three
calls. He picked up on the fourth though, but asked if I could call back in an
hour. There were a couple of more no answers. By the time I got him, he was
talking to three or four other people in the background at the same time as me.
That was a tough one.
Best
advice you’ve ever been given?
There are three, and they’re so simple
I’m almost embarrassed to tell you: First, I was doing a video with Maclean’s colleague Brian D. Johnson,
who’s covered TIFF for 27 years now and appears on CityTV every Friday to talk
about the newest movies to hit theatres. I kept flubbing a take and he told me
to slow down and pause if I didn’t know what to say, instead of blabbering on.
GENIUS! Second, Philippe Gohier, a former editor at the magazine who now works
at enRoute, told me not to be afraid
to focus on what I think the best bits are in a story: think about the stuff
I’d be most excited to tell my friends about. 
And finally, my boyfriend, after being appalled over how many times I
interrupted celebrities on
my first TIFF red carpet
—think Anna Faris, Chris Pratt and Brad Pitt—told
me maybe to stop interrupting people in interviews. It’s just that I don’t like
making people uncomfortable and would always fill in the awkward silences. If
you let them do it instead, sometimes magic will happen.
What
rule(s) do you live your life by?

I wish I had more
rules to live my life by, but here’s one: Be nice to people. And hopefully not
because your motivations are selfish: be nice to people, including the security
guard, the cashier, the 
sales clerk or the taxi driver, because
being polite and nice are just good things to be in a world that sometimes
lacks those basic courtesies.


What’s
the most important tip you can give PR pros?
I suppose to do a little research before
emailing a press release or pitch: For example, while I’d love to cover a media
scrum on the Hill in Ottawa that you’ve emailed me a press release about, there
are probably far more capable reporters at Maclean’s
to do the job, even ones who actually work in Ottawa. Also, peg the person,
place or thing you’re promoting to a specific section of the magazine or
website that you know would be a good fit for your pitch. And don’t be alarmed
if I choose not to write about those chipotle-yogurt-acai berry gluten-free
chips that you’ve sent. I’m sure they’re amazing, but our readers might not
understand why I just dedicated 500 words to them. 
Best
experience you’ve had with a PR pro? We love to hear about #wins.
Last year was my first time covering
TIFF. I was so naïve and had to count on the kindness of PR strangers
(including you fine folks! But it might be considered gauche to recount here.) I
managed to connect with Jennifer Love of Duet PR, who practically held my hand
after I flat out admitted that I was new to TIFF and usually wrote about food. She
did her best to include me at events that might have a culinary focus. One was
a private dinner for a movie called The
Artist
where the star,
Jean Dujardin, director
Michael
Hazanavicius
and producer Harvey Weinstein would be
in attendance. Media wasn’t supposed to be there but I promised to behave and
be a fly on the wall. I ended up sitting with two of the smartest people I’ve
met working in media—Anne Thompson and Dana Harris of Indiewire—and had the time of my life. Hearing Thompson over dinner
confess that:
“I’ve been quoted in print as saying
Ewan McGregor has the most beautiful penis I’ve ever seen. Well, the title now
goes to Michael Fassbender,” was especially memorable, not to mention watching
the Weinstein brothers work the room, or rather, the room working them, and
being privy to New York PR sensation Peggy Siegel doing her thing, were like
scenes out of a movie on the business of making movies. And I
got a great little story out of it to boot
.

I hate?
Chicken on pizza, or in pasta. And
strawberries in rhubarb pie.


I love?
My bike. I ride it everywhere. Sometimes
in heels (don’t recommend.)


Reading?
Currently on the bedside table are A Room With a View (because I just
re-watched the Ivory-Merchant film), Philip Roth’s Zuckerman Unbound, and a food history called Consider the Fork.


Best place
on earth?
Lately, my couch, in home-time comfy
clothes, fire going (in fireplace), one of the above-mentioned TV shows
playing, with my feet on my boyfriend’s lap and a glass of Sancerre resting on
my tummy. (I will take a cheap Italian white, if funds are limited, which is
more often than not.)
Dinner
guest?
Daniel Day Lewis as Nathaniel in Last of the Mohicans, Matt Damon as
Jason Bourne and Brad Pitt as Tristan from
Legends of the Fall
. And if there was room, Russell Crowe as Gladiator. Okay, and Daniel Craig as
007. They would arrive in costume, and be in character the whole night. After
dinner, which I’d prepare at my place, we’d all go sit on the couch with
glasses of bourbon and watch the movies they’re in, or maybe deconstruct
episodes of Girls, and eat a Deep and
Delicious cake out of the container. I’ve said too much.


Hero?
Professionally speaking, Elaine Lui of LaineyGossip. Her writing is not only
hilarious, but it also, for me, blurs the line between high and low culture. If
I’m ever feeling lazy, I think of how much she works, and how she manages to
pump out copy on pop culture that is often so acute and illuminating that I
wonder why she’s not a f–king university professor. (Probably because having
your own gossip website is more fun, and you still get to do TED Talks on the
side.)
Favourite
app (or whatever you are downloading these days)?
I use the LCBO App quite a bit. Probably
too much, actually.


Pool or
ocean?
Always the ocean.

Voicemail
or email?
Always the email.

Media, Darling: J. Kelly Nestruck

J. Kelly Nestruck is
the theatre critic at The Globe and Mail, and has been so since 2008. His
writings about the arts and theatre have also appeared in such publications
as the National Post, the Toronto Star, Toronto Life, The Boston Globe and The
Guardian
. He has appeared on
The National, been heard on CBC Radio’s Q, and tweets all the live-long day
@nestruck.

In addition to work, Nestruck is currently pursuing a Master’s from the Centre
for Theatre, Drama and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto. He
likes to garden, cycle around the city, and the J stands for James.

Photo credit: Catherine Farquharson.


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

No – when I was five, I wanted to be a firefighter. But from my teens on, my
twin passions were theatre and newspapers. The newspaper business seemed like
the wiser route financially at the time…


Where would you like to be five years from now?

I prefer to go where life takes me, but I’d be happy to still be here doing
what I’m doing now. It’d be nice have a kid to take to Young People’s Theatre.
Or at least a dog to take to Young Dogs’ Theatre.


Any advice for people getting started in your industry?

Have you considered the skilled trades?


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

Theatre-wise, I love to read all my competitors at the Toronto dailies and
weeklies, plus online voices such as Lynn Slotkin, Stage Door and the
Charlebois Post. Scott Brown in New York Magazine; Chris Jones at the Chicago
Tribune
; the whole theatre package in The Guardian. I subscribe to the NewYorker and The Onion, listen to This is That and Q on CBC Radio, and watch The
Bachelor
and Dragon’s Den. I read Garth Turner’s blog every day to get over my
renter inferiority complex.


Best interview you’ve ever had? Worst?

Best – playwright John Mighton in 2004. His pet rat Cookie escaped and I got to
watch him scramble around with his daughter to catch it.  Worst –
playwright Michael Frayn. I accidentally unplugged my computer with my foot
while interviewing him over the phone.


Best advice you’ve ever been given?

Don’t go to journalism school.


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

I do not have a body; I am a body.


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

Add your theatre openings to my online calendar: cantheatre.wikispaces.com.
I can’t keep track of emails any more.


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

Ann Swerdfager at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival is a real delight to work
with – and I have to work with her a lot, so thank goodness!


I hate?

Stickers. They creep me out.


I love?

Seeing a show I loved find an audience.

Reading?
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain


Best place on earth?

Mount Royal when the leaves turn.


Dinner guest?

Christopher Hitchens, RIP.


Hero?

Nick Auf Der Maur, RIP.


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

iAnnotate” is the reason I own an iPad.


Pool or ocean?

Ocean.


Voicemail or email?

Oh, email PLEASE.


Theatre show in the fall season you’re most looking forward to?

Alligator Pie at Soulpepper!

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.