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Weekly Lunches: Witnessing the journalistic hustle at Bustle Digital Group

By: Caroline Tien, intern at Smart + Strong Publishing

The first stop on the 2019 ASME lunch itinerary was Bustle Digital Group, where our very own Robbie Moscato-Goodpaster works. A soon-to-be media behemoth, Bustle Digital Group, more succinctly known as BDG, had an almost intimidatingly glamorous office, complete with a massive neon sign spelling out “BUSTLE” hung on the wall to the right of the elevators.

Ashlyn Thompson, an editorial operations associate, escorted us through the open-air office bloc to a boardroom. Moving to the front, she spoke a little bit about Bustle’s history, all-digital layout, and target demographic — millennial and Gen Z women who “know who they want to be but not yet who they are.”

Thompson first introduced Khalea Underwood, an associate beauty editor at the Zoe Report, a highbrow fashion-and-lifestyle brand recently acquired by BDG. Underwood gave us some valuable advice, including “Make the most of your time here,” “Meet as many people in the editorial world as you can,” “Relevant experience is necessary,” and “Print writing helps with digital writing.”

Next, Iman Hariri-kia, an associate sex and relationships editor at Elite Daily, took the stage. Following Underwood’s example, she told us to “Be ambitious” and that “Cold-emailing is effective” (a tip that I, for one, hope is true). She encouraged the use of analytics, suggesting that, rather than telling readers what they should be reading, we should actively consider what they want to read.

The last and final speaker, Allison Piwowarski, a deputy editor who works with entertainment content for the Bustle website, told us to “talk" to our potential/future readers as though they were friends we hadn’t seen in a while. She also mentioned something that I, as a person who hasn’t done much writing or editing for entertainment verticals before, found particularly thought-provoking: the need to strike a balance between gaining access to big-name stars and sticking to your journalistic guns.

Although we could’ve asked hundreds more questions, our visit to Bustle had already exceeded an hour and we had to return to our internships. Thanks to the advice and expertise of these four staff members, we left with newfound knowledge and confidence, ready to take on the ever-changing beast of reporting in the digital age.

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