HRTS Member Profile: Janice Min
Janice Min is the Editorial Director of The Hollywood Reporter. I recently had a chance to interview Janice to discuss showbiz sex appeal, the White House, and the power of headlines.
Q: Can you tell us about your background and what made you want to work in entertainment?
-I'm originally from Colorado but spent 23 years living in New York City from the time I was 17. I went to New York to attend Columbia as an undergrad and stayed until last year when I came here. I couldn't live the rest of my life, especially with little kids, being too cold half the year! I can't say I was born wanting to work in entertainment - I always had this fantasy that I would be a White House reporter when I was growing up, but one thing led to another without any premeditated plan and here I am. It's a great field on which to report.
Q: What is the most exciting story on the horizon?
-there are so many, but I'm personally interested in the reinvention of NBC. Having been a media punching-bag for so long, the network can only go up. And as a child, I loved so many of those NBC shows. We were an NBC family from Nightly News to Johnny Carson to Thursday night sitcoms all the way.
Q: In what ways does your experience at other publications inform your decision-making process?
-it's always about finding stories that serve the audience. So I would say first and foremost you have to know the audience and have an understanding of and feel for them and listen. Listening is probably the most important thing anyone can bring to this kind of job. You can never be so arrogant as to think you know better than your readers, right?
The elements of how to succeed with an audience are the same no matter where you go: recognize what will connect with your particular audience - almost always it’s something that has insight, analysis or a strong narrative. Realize that stories often are about people, not just numbers.
And lastly, I think you can't underestimate the power of headlines, captions and design. It's about giving every story a fighting chance to get read. No one wants to walk into an ugly restaurant with an ugly sign. Why would you not want to sell your stories that people have worked so hard on in the most appealing manner possible?
Q: How would you compare The Hollywood Reporter brand to that of other trade papers?
-The Hollywood Reporter in its new form is so much more than your traditional trade. It’s about the business of entertainment, it does analysis, it’s visual, and I like what one person said to me about it who works in the industry: it put the sex appeal of showbiz back into the business after so many years of negativity.
The publication is a mix of breaking news, analysis and sometimes just pure celebration. It's fun, readable and informative. The Hollywood Reporter is no longer something people feel like they HAVE to read like some kind of mental vitamin, but actually WANT to read. Countless people in town tell me they have been carrying it around, taking it on airplanes, reading it on the weekends. That's all anyone can ask for in the media, right? Stickiness like that is awesome to hear about.
Q: Is The Hollywood Reporter headed completely online? If so, will it be behind a paid wall?
-no, it will never be headed completely online. Online is a huge component, but look at the magazine. That could never go online. It wasn't meant to go online. One of the most important considerations in putting together the magazine was not how we could make it more Internet-y and bitsy but how we could take advantage of the best assets of print.
Hence you see 4,000 word stories, the best photographers in the world ranging from Peggy Sirota to Nigel Parry to Art Streiber to Frank Ockenfels, real criticism by real critics, and true analysis. Not analysis by some blogger who wants to vent, but analysis by people whose opinions actually matter, are reported, and are informed. I was really gratified by the reaction to the Legends Issue we did at the end of last year. It was only our seventh issue in, and we pulled off an amazing feat by photographing so many of the industry greats in a photo portfolio that no online outlet would ever even think about doing. It was a keeper. Who can say that about anything online these days?
Q: How do you compete with showbiz blogs and their fast turnaround times?
-we compete exceedingly well. We break news fast. Our reporters dominated at Sundance. We are now the most read website in the industry. So I think we're doing more than fine. The day after the Golden Globes gave us our biggest traffic in the history of the website, and subsequently our biggest week of traffic ever. It felt great. And we did it all without cannibalizing from the magazine we were closing at the same time, or vice versa.
They are two different parts of the brand that feed into two very different experiences. With the Hollywood Reporter you can have them both. Even on our iPad version, we developed a cool feature where you can turn the iPad one way and read the magazine. When you turn it the other way you get the breaking news. It's the perfect thing to read with your Gogo wireless internet on those coast-to-coast flights.