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Everything I Need To Know About Journalism I Learned From Laurel Touby

Submitted by on June 16, 2011 – 5:45 pmNo Comment |

“I think technology has made journalists lazy,” Laurel Touby tells me within two minutes of beginning my interview with her.  “I get these reporters who are on deadline sending me a Facebook message, and I think, really? Pick up the f-ing phone and give me an f-ing call.”

Not exactly the quote I want to include in an article about how technology has changed the way we do  journalism, but I actually agree with Touby; and within three minutes of interviewing the media maven, I decide to change the thesis of my article.  (I also breathe a sigh of relief that I did not contact her through social media.)

I only spent 15 minutes on the phone with Touby yesterday, but I’ve been following her career for a few years now.  In 1996, Touby founded mediabistro.com (lowercase “m,” lowercase “b” and keep the “dot com,” thank you very much), a website that has played an integral role in keeping me abreast of industry trends in journalism and in 2006, the mediabistro.com sanctioned book (for which Touby wrote the foreword) Get A Freelance Lifeis what finally inspired me to “sack up” and start pursuing the career I’ve always dreamed of.

If you know me in real life, you know I’m rarely ever intimidated and I’m rendered speechless even less often than that;  but something about Touby’s quick wit and undeniable intelligence (yes, that is a girl crush you’re sensing here) made me feel like it was my first day on the job.  I’m fairly certain I bumbled my way through most of the interview, collecting myself in just enough time to ask Touby what advice she would give to aspiring journalists.

“Take a lower paying or even non-paid job with a place you see yourself working in five years, rather than settle for a higher paying job you’re not passionate about.  If you want to be a culture writer, don’t take a job at The Daily Business Review. Writing is a lot like acting; you get typecast. Once you get stuck, you will be stuck for a long time.”

Truer words have never been spoken, though Touby dropped little knowledge nuggets on me throughout our entire conversation.  Excerpts from my interview with Touby can be found on the article I published on Business Insider yesterday.

Journalists, take notes–and enjoy!

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