women in media

Ex-NY Times Editor Turns Media Entrepreneur (Part 1: Brooklyn Mama Series)

I’m starting a series of profiles on Brooklyn mommy entrepreneurs. Not only do I want to understand how they get through the day, while building a business and family, I’m testing the waters about creating a Brooklyn-based Work-Life Integration MeetUp (uh, maybe to be called something else. That’s a mouthful).

So…here’s a profile of Holly Epstein Ojalvo.  She is founder and editor-in-chief of a new news site called Kicker. The idea is to present news in plain language for younger people or just those of us who don’t have time to read our Twitter feed all day every day.

Holly Epstein Ojalvo, Editor-in-Chief of Kicker

I’m Holly. I live in Brooklyn with my husband, Jason, and our 7-year-old daughter. Jason works full-time for Audible. I was a high school English and journalism teacher for 10 years, and I left teaching to edit for The New York Times Learning Network, which provides ways for teachers to use The Times in the classroom. For a couple of years I found myself strongly wishing there were a great resource that made current events accessible, engaging, and relevant for young people. Finally I decided to create one myself, so I left The Times six months ago and launched Kicker in mid-September.

1. Why/when did you decide to leave a “real” job and start out on your own

Having a vision that I’m very passionate about is the number one reason. It’s both exciting and scary to take such a risk, but I really believe in the mission of engaging young people in what’s going on in the world and empowering them to make a difference. It’s a great challenge to stretch myself professionally by entering the start-up world.

2. What’s been the best/worst thing about being a lone operator?

The best thing is that I’m really excited to get to work every day. Each day I make a bit of progress toward making a long-standing dream of mine a reality. The worst part is that it can be lonely. I have an amazing group of freelancers and advisers, but I also wish I had a full-time partner or small team to work alongside.

3. How did you deal with your biz during Hurricane Sandy? Did Daddy take care of the kids or did work get put on the backburner

We were incredibly fortunate that we didn’t lose power at home. Internet was spotty at times, but generally we could get online. I work at home most days, so I’m already in that groove. Jason and I tag-teamed the first couple of days – having a playdate helped! – and luckily our daughter was able to go to school starting on Wednesday. Fortunately, too, all of Kicker’s contributors were not only fine, but also able to work.

(Optional) 4. Is your biz paying the bills or is your work part of a longer term strategy to build up a bigger (more lucrative) company? Or is $ not really the point?

We haven’t started generating revenue quite yet, but I’m working on executing a strategy.

Know a mama whose working it in BK? Leave me a comment here or tweet me @manoushz
As always, please check out my ebook, Camera Ready, on making quality video and being great on camera.
And listen to my segment on WNYC, New Tech City.

Posted in entrepreneur, future of news, moms, new york times, Publishing, reporting work, start-up, tech
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Female & Cynical: A Journalist Considers Entrepreneurship

Is entrepreneurship a new type of feminism? That’s one of the many questions host Ashley Milne-Tyte tackles in her podcast, The Broad Experience.

I was recently a guest on Ashley’s program to talk about how I ended up being plunged into the gung-ho world of female entrepreneurship, thanks to self-publishing my eBook, getting it backed with Kickstarter, and trying to work AND be a mom.

As a cynical journalist it’s been hard to change my way of thinking and buy into the start-up zeal.I keep thinking about a piece I did with BBC reporter Philippa Thomas in Silicon Valley in 1999, right before that bubble burst.  Is all the hoopla this time around going to evaporate or is this truly a seachange of how the country’s economic engine is going to run?

Listen to the podcast.



Posted in BBC, Books, entrepreneur, jobs, moms, start-up
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More than a Journalist: Becoming an “Author”

It feels very strange to make the transition from interviewer to interviewee. Writing a book was never on my To Do list until the Vook publishing platform made me reconsider. Now, as the countdown to the release of my multimedia enhanced eBook CAMERA READY continues (out Tuesday!), my team and I are working our butts off to finish the Kickstarter campaign with a bang and launch this damn book with a holler.  It was kind of nice to stop and reflect a bit when the blog, Coloured Collective, asked me for an interview. Who are YOU finding inspiring these days? I discovered it wasn’t just my 2 year-old who is into Elmo.


CC: What makes you a colourful woman?
MZ: My excessive potty mouth? No, I guess I’m colorful (or colourful- I also speak British) because I just can’t help myself from jumping into a conversation and asking lots of questions. I’m nosy and that’s always been very helpful as a journalist and makes people remember me, for better or worse. I remember a game we once played in the BBC’s Washington bureau where each person had to be labelled with one word. The word they come up with for me was “zesty.” Like a good salad dressing.

CC: Who are some of your colourful inspirations?
MZ: Right now, I would have to say Elmo. My 2 year-old is in love and I have developed a real fondness for Elmo’s combination of kindness and sass. Plus, red is a power color that really pops on camera!

CC: What are some of your projects right now?
MZ: Sheesh, too many. Besides having a multimedia enhanced ebook coming out on Tuesday, we are running a Kickstarter campaign to get the ebook’s “Quality Video for Everyone” message out. I’m a first time author and finding the whole process very exhilarating and emotional. I’m also piloting a public radio show about how innovation is affecting the NYC economy. Plus, I do my regular media training. Oh, and I have 2 kids and I’ve been dealing with the New York public school system and Kindergarten placement. That’s a full-time job in itself!

CC: What message would you like to share with our readers today?
MZ: Just do the best you can. If you are a mom, don’t kill yourself but also, don’t put everything off “until the kids are older” because things are moving too fast in media and the digital world to jump back in whenever you want. And not everyone is going to LOVE you. After being a news ‘wunderkind’ in my twenties, it’s hard to get used to that. But I’ll always have Elmo.

Posted in BBC, Books, Interviewing, media, moms
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Women: What to Wear On Camera

OK ladies, if you are going on camera hopefully you have the enthusiasm…but not the grotesque looks of my alter-ego.


Here are some basic rules for looking FAB on screen, whether it’s MSNBC, a Skype chat, or a company YouTube video:

1. Avoid excess froufrou like scarves, ruffles, and overly exuberant necklaces (simple thin or thick chains work best)…and please remember to cut the tag off, unlike my friend seen above.

2. A deep V-neck or scoop-neck blouse looks good on everyone. Most people (despite Michelle Obama’s example) should wear sleeves. Too much skin can make you look fleshy or scrawny.

3. Choose rich, sophisticated colors like royal purple, emerald green, or deep berry. Even ivory can work. Katie Couric wore a bright white jacket for her first CBS Evening News broadcast. I would have gone for a softer white.

4. If you want to be taken seriously, wear a jacket. Sadly, this is just the way it goes. But if you can show a bit more personality, try a blouse or sweater. Structured dresses (rather than slinky polyester, which reveals every bump) also look professional and cover flaws. I love the fancy blue dress my friend Katty Kay, of the BBC, wore on The Colbert Report.

5. Always wear earrings but skip the long dangly ones unless you are in a creative industry. A little glint of silver or gold brightens up every face.


6. If you are going to be doing a lot of on-camera stuff, think about
cultivating YOUR look. A uniform style not only makes things easier
for you on a daily basis but also brands you. Bobbi Brown usually wears a black blazer and hoop earrings with little charms on them.
Vera Wang always has her perfect curtain of smooth black hair. A signature look makes you instantly recognizable.


The Bottom Line:  When in doubt, play it safe (just with your clothes, not your life!). You can wear the simplest outfit and still look chic.

Anybody out there have a signature look they’d like to share?!

Posted in Books, On-Camera Tips, Popular
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From On-Air Reporter to Online Video Powerhouse: Dina Kaplan


Dina Kaplan is the COO of blip.tv, the online video distribution site.  There’s a great profile of her in this week’s Observer.  She went from local tv reporter to COO of a company that hosts and distrubtes 48,000 original web shows.

In the article she describes her ah-ha moment, when she finally decided to jump ship:

“Later that September, an interview she had with Andrew Heyward, then the CBS News chief, made up her mind.

“We had a pretty formal interview,” Ms. Kaplan recalled. “At the very end he said, ‘What else do you do? What are you interested in?’ And I said, you know, ‘On Wednesday nights, I get together with some really smart friends of mine and we are starting a company, which is a platform for people creating Web shows on the Internet.’ And—I will never forget this—he pulled his chair back and looked at me in a whole new light. That sort of glaze of interviewing yet another reporter, only the seventy-five thousandth of his life, ended and he snapped out of it. He looked at me directly as a person rather than another local TV reporter, and he said, ‘Do that. That is the future. Forget this TV reporting thing.’”

Dina goes on to explain how she secured venture capital and turned herself into an online video powerhouse.   She spoke on Wednesday night at mediabistro’s panel on Producing Online Video Content (I hosted it- see the top tips gleened from the event here).  She brought a male co-worker with here- and in the article, she explains why she feels the need to travel with a male escort.  It’s pretty depressing- otherwise people don’t take her seriously.

Anyway, the story will inspire TV reporters wondering what their next move should be and get budding online video content producers to start shooting.   Tell Dina what you think at the blip blog.

Posted in future of news, jobs, media tips, mediabistro, social media, video ideas
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Hot Women in Media


I haven’t told my friend Katty Kay that she looks like Alex from The Desperate Housewives (seriously, don’t they look alike?).  I spied Alex at the sandbox in Cobble Hill a few weeks back.  And yes, we were with our kids.

Katty’s book Womenomics is now #5 on Amazon’s Women & Business list.  She wrote it with ABC correspondent Claire Shipman.  I was Katty’s producer in the nineties when she first started reporting from the US for the BBC in Washington.

Her book is about getting the career you’ve always wanted without sacrificing your life.  It applies mostly to corporate lasses…and I have to say, the freelance/consultant model is working better for a lot of us.   I went and joined Katty backstage when she appeared on Colbert in June (watch it here, he was such a pushover for a strawberry blonde Brit!)…and went to Diane von Furstenberg’s studio that night for the book party.  Very entertaining to watch the mainstream media machine move into place to support its own.  Almost everyone I spoke to was looking over my shoulder to see if there was someone better else to talk to…not that I took it personally!

Speaking of women in mainstream media, Forbes recently posted its Most Influential Women in Media list.  Only surprise on there was Dooce.

Posted in BBC, Books, fancy friends, jobs, media tips
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