On Tuesday, Annenberg’s School of Journalism and the Center on Communication Leadership & Policy hosted “Spotlight on Hollywood: Women and Entertainment Journalism,” a series of conversations focusing on women and leadership in journalism.
The discussions explored the journalism under news media, the transformation of journalism caused by the digital age and issues of news’ accuracy and reliability.
“The biggest thing I [learned] is the blurring between the real entertainment news versus the influence corporations have over the news,” said Ron Rothstein, a USC alumnus in attendance.
Panelists discussed their experiences working for various publications and how they found their voices among editors.
Jen Garcia, a senior writer at People Magazine, said that she did find a voice as the youngest editor, but always had to fight for her stories.
“Editors do respect people who speak up,” added Kasia Anderson, a former editor at Truthdig and The Wrap. “[If] you speak up, editors do respect the credible reasons behind that.”
“Even though they were all from different companies, they all seemed to agree on most things,” said Barbara Estrada, a freshman majoring in broadcast and digital journalism. “Most of the people there worked for newspapers or magazines and they all seemed to agree that journalism has evolved from what it was 10, 20 years ago.”
Panelists also discussed hiring practices. Vice President and Managing Editor of Variety Kristen Wilder said she cares most about whether an applicant is a good writer.
“While I’m hiring new intern or entry level positions, I want [the person] to be a journalist that can write well, clearly and accurately and spell your words right,” Wilder said. “If you are passionate about telling the truth, finally one day you will bring it into publication.”
Event organizer Liz Krane said that even though the event was a late addition after a panel about sports journalism was cancelled, it went off “without a hitch” and brought an important perspective to attendees.
“I thought that was really good to hear that they are frustrated also. It’s not just people reading magazines and being frustrated with the fact that Justin Bieber is everywhere as opposed to more important news,” Krane said. “It’s just good to hear that that’s a real thing that they deal with but at the same time it’s still possible to push for a story that you’re really interested in.”
Krane said the best part of the panel was getting advice from actual professionals in journalism.
“I think it was Mary [Murphy] who said editors really like it if you speak up for yourself, that was my favorite bit of advice,” Krane said.
Estrada said she hopes to work in the entertainment industry and had the chance to ask panelists for advice on how to break into the industry.
“They said just get experience, it doesn’t have to be somewhere that’s nationally known, it can be somewhere small or local, you can just work your way up,” Estrada said. “Get involved in anything else related to journalism on campus to help you build a strong profile, people already know that you have experience.”