We The Journalists: Erica Landau
From her recent piece about men’s reproductive rights for Broward New Times to her late-May Huffington Post Gay Voices piece about an intersex baby, Erica Landau sticks to her personal speciality in her work.
A 2008 graduate of University of Miami (bachelor’s in Women’s Literature and Print Journalism), Landau defended her Honors thesis on socio-political revisions in the Female Gothic novel. She’s part of a student group that won an SPJ award for coverage of the 2008 Univision Republican debate, and that’s just the beginning of an impressive CV.
A brief breakdown of her goings on include interning for The Nation, contributing to Bitch Magazine, copy editing for the Sun Post, freelancing for City Link, editing for Broward New Times. All this before starting Salty Eggs and running the online joint. Oh, yeah, and she regularly contributes to Broward New Times’ The Daily Pulp.
By Gideon Grudo
How does Landau’s work align with her personality? Well, here’s the list of interests she sent SPJ: “Gender, sex, and sexuality, LGBTQI rights, environmentalism, history of the pro-choice movement, activism, political theory, women’s literature, playing the piano.”
So yeah, it all fits together nicely. Without further adieu, here’s her take on modern journalism, what people don’t understand about running an online news site, and what student journos MUST know. Follow her on Twitter.
SPJ South Florida: Salty Eggs is online only, a relatively newcomer to the neighborhood. What prompted you to start it?
Erica Landau: Originally I intended Salty Eggs to be my own personal blog, where I would cover issues related to the women’s movement and women’s rights in Florida. Then I chatted with a friend, Terra Sullivan, who had similar interests and who also wanted to start a blog. Her ex was the only web designer she knew, and, naturally, he wasn’t in a hurry to help. So I invited her on. Then I spoke with our politics editor Dan Sweeney. Word got around, and by our debut a month later, our freelance roster had swelled to around 15 writers. People seemed really enthusiastic about it, and I just went with it.
Based on what you’ve experienced thus far, what’s the future of newspapers (radio, broadcast etc) as you see it?
I’m not really qualified to answer this, but I’ll try. I think the top print magazines (like, say, the New Yorker) and the huge dailies will stick around. The latter will get bigger, merge, and/or gobble up the competition. After all, people, including myself, still want print’s tactile quality. However, I’m consistently impressed by the creative strides taken on the web. Take, for instance, what Pitchfork has done with their “cover stories.” Presentation on the web is only getting more innovative and more interactive. Again, I’m not the most qualified to answer this question, but it seems one of the problems is a lot of publications that are struggling as print editions still see the web as an adjunct. But in a lot of those cases, the priority should be the reverse.
What’s the biggest misconception about your job?
That a blog is something akin to sideshow journalism. Whenever I tell people I run a blog, even an award-winning one, they seem to feel sorry for me. Like it’s just me and my LiveJournal against the world. When they see the product they’re surprised, simply because they have such low expectations when they hear “blog.”
What’s one part of your job that most folks don’t realize you do?
Probably all the formatting. They assume the writers just go in there and do their thing, but over the past year I uploaded and/or tweaked pretty much everything in addition to my regular assigning/editing duties.
What’s your Career highlight? Lowlight?
Being the only independent site in the region (in our first year, no less) to place for a Green Eyeshade award was definitely the highlight. A lowlight was probably being told I should write a positive review of the band 311.
What’s the most frustrating part of your job now? Most fun part?
There’s not too much frustration, maybe when a server goes down. The most fun parts would be working with such wonderfully talented, brilliant people, brainstorming ideas, and assigning work we actually want to write about. And doing that without any regard for online traffic.
One piece of advice you wish you could surgically implant into college students and young professionals?
Learn what dangling participles and modifiers are and burn that lesson into your brain.
Also, don’t write for free.
Throughout March, April, May and June, SPJ South Florida Pro will feature Q&As every Friday with South Florida’s most prominent journalists. Want to see someone featured? Want to join SPJ? Email us.
Gideon Grudo is the Executive Vice President of SPJ South Florida Pro. Follow him on Twitter.