L I N D S E Y  W I S N I E W S K I  

By theno1pick, Mar 11 2015 11:56PM

Rachel Gallaher GRAY Magazine Q&A

Rachel Gallaher's work has spanned the Puget Sound from downtown Seattle to the shores of Edmonds. Over the past six years, Gallaher has worked with renowned publications such as Seattle Bride, Seattle Homes and Lifestyles, City Arts, Edmonds Patch and GRAY Magazine, where she currently serves as editor. A graduate from University of Washington, Gallaher majored in English but focused more on Creative Writing. But it wasn't until Gallaher landed an internship with Seattle Homes and Lifestyles magazine that her passion for design writing began.

"I started out in what was supposed to be a three-month internship," Gallaher says. "But once the three months were up, I just kept coming into the office and they never asked me to leave. So it turned into a yearlong gig."

It was Gallaher's persistence in the field and ability to succeed when faced with adversity that has made her a success story in the journalism industry. I interviewed Gallaher about her experience in the field and asked what advice she would give to prospective journalists today. Check out her answers below!

1) Tell me a little bit about your experience in the field. Where did you get your start? What is your background? Has your beat always been design writing?

I have been in the industry professionally for about six years now, but I’ve been writing all my life and was the editor of my high school newspaper for three years. In college at the University of Washington I was an English major and focused more on creative writing, but after graduation my first internship was at Seattle Homes & Lifestyles magazine. That led me into design writing, but I also started freelancing for a local arts magazine in Seattle, and a bridal publication. I’ve also covered news for a smaller, online community publication. Overall design and the arts are my focus, but I always like the challenge of tackling a subject I don’t normally cover.

2) Where all have you worked prior to becoming an editor for GRAY magazine?

As I mentioned, my first internship out of college was at a now-defunct magazine called Seattle Homes & Lifestyles, which was a design-related publication. I started out in what was supposed to be a three-month internship, but once the three months were up I just kept coming into the office and they never asked me to leave, so it turned into a yearlong gig. As I started branching out and writing for other publications (City Arts, Seattle Bride, Edmonds Patch) I continued freelancing for SH&L. When that magazine folded some of the staff got together and launched GRAY. They asked me if I was interested in writing for them and I jumped at the opportunity. That started my relationship with GRAY, and after about eight months I was promoted to the assistant editor role which eventually led to where I am today.

3) What is the most challenging part of your job? Most rewarding?

The most challenging part of my job is juggling the many moving parts of a magazine every single day. Each story has so many small, and shifting parts, and if you drop the ball on one thing it can have a huge impact on the overall outcome of a story. When you have three or four stories on your plate at once, are editing other people’s stories, managing social media, and helping to plan events it can feel a little overwhelming at times.

The most rewarding part of my job is knowing that I am helping expose the work of designers and artists, especially those who are just starting out or are new to the field. It’s such a great experience to watch a designer’s career take off and become successful.

4) What advice would you give students for breaking into this magazine market as a freelancer?

I get this question a lot and there is no easy answer. Things have changed drastically since I first got into the industry. It’s a lot harder to have a livable career as a freelancer. I owe my career to my first internship. Journalism, and magazine journalism especially, requires experience. I can’t stress enough how valuable an internship at any kind of publication can be. Coming away with clips that you can send along to other editors as you pitch stories is always helpful.

When you do score a freelance assignment make sure you communicate with your editor. Communication is so important. We can’t read your mind. If you’re having an issue with a source or a problem writing your story, be sure to speak up. I’d rather help you work through something than have you turn in a piece that needs to be completely torn apart and re-written due to an error that could have been addressed with a quick phone call.

This should be self-explanatory, but do not miss deadlines. Nothing kills an editor-writer relationship like late stories. A story that comes in late is then edited late, sent to the copyeditor late, passed on to the art director late, and the entire production cycle is thrown off a bit. Be honest about the amount of time you think you will need for a story. I would rather be able to give you an extra day or two upfront than receive a rushed, poorly written piece.

5) What advice would you give a freelancer who wanted to write for GRAY?

The best thing you can do before pitching a story is to read as many back issues as possible. This will help give a sense of the voice and style we use at GRAY, and hopefully familiarize you with the types of stories we publish.

It is always best if you send a story pitch rather than just contacting one of our editors and saying that you’re a writer looking for an assignment. Most magazines get dozens of emails like that a month. If you can prove that you’re willing and able to go out and find fresh, new ideas that fit well in GRAY (in addition to being a good writer) that will help you stand out. Most magazines, including GRAY, have an editorial calendar that sketches out loose themes or topic areas they plan to cover in each upcoming issue throughout the year. Ask for that and see if any of your story ideas fit into those categories.

When you pitch a story be as detailed and thorough as possible. Sending an email with a pitch about new spring paint colors isn’t going to be as effective as say pitching a story about a brand new custom paint colorist who is launching an eco-friendly line this spring. Always ask yourself the question, “So what?” Why is this story important, interesting, or relevant right now?

6) What is something you learned in your early years as a journalist that you didn't know until today?

One of the biggest things that I am still learning is the value of self editing. It’s not enough to write your story, do a quick read through and pass it on thinking, “Oh my editor will deal with any mistakes.” Oftentimes when you do this, your story will come back completely ripped apart or needing a large amount of re-writes—frustrating for both you and your editor.

A method that I’ve adopted in the past year or so is to give myself a personal deadline of a day or two before a story is due and make sure I have at least 90% of it written. Then I sleep on it and re-approach with fresh eyes the next day. It’s incredible how much that can help. I often come back and realize that the structure is off or there are some spelling mistakes, or I need to switch out a quote. It takes a while to get good at it, but once you turn that corner you feel even more pride in your work, both as an editor and writer.

7) Anything additional you would like to add that I didn't ask?

I can’t stress enough how important tenacity is in this industry. If I had given up at the times when I was feeling like I would never be able to break into this field, I would have been done about six years ago. You learn to become thick-skinned and brush off rejection with a re-focused determination. Samuel Beckett once said, “Fail Again. Fail Better.” That is my personal mantra. Strive to go beyond what you did last time and never give up. Eventually you will break through. It’s going to be discouraging at times, but I challenge you to find someone successful who never felt that way.

Photo credit to graymag.net

By theno1pick, Mar 6 2015 06:00PM

Last week, I attended the Associated College Press (ACP) conference in sunny Los Angeles, California. Except it wasn't really that sunny. While weather wasn't exactly a hot topic at the conference, #TheDress was.

It started after hotel check-in my first night. A couple of the Pulse editors and one writer from the Observer who I shared a room with, presented me with a photo and asked the question: What color do you see? When looking at the photo, I replied, "Blue and black obviously." The room grew loud with chatter and contradictory comments started to follow, "There's no way, it's totally white and gold." After that, we went about our night.

It wasn't until I got on Facebook that night that I realized this blue and black (or white and gold) dress was a topic of controversy. When we joined the rest of the Observer crew that night for drinks, more talk about #TheDress came up. I'd say it was about 50/50 on which color it really was.

How #TheDress Affected ACP

The next day we went to our first day of seminars and you can bet in every single speakers session, there was talk about #TheDress, #Llamagate or #DressGate, depending on who you ask.

Brandon Mendelson, who spoke on 'How To Become Internet Famous', was one of the first to mention #TheDress that day. According to Mendelson, Buzzfeed put out eight posts within a 24-hour period on #Llamagate.

Keynote speaker Brian Stelter followed up on the controvesial topic by commenting that "Buzzfeed exists for moments like #TheDress. Let others be lazy. Let them write the thousandth article about #TheDress. Let's be more interesting."

Dan Reimold of College Media Matters, delivered a speech about how to incorporate humor into your writing. Of course, #TheDress was tied into the topic. Reimold gave four steps on how to be funny with his first being "Identify the target. What is significant? Why is this timely enough?"

I took Reimold's first step and broke it down in terms of #TheDress.

Subjective those who view it

So what exactly was significant about #TheDress? I mean obviously Buzzfeed took this and ran with it. But it's just a dress.

For me, what was significant about #TheDress was the fact that it is subjective to those who view it and in a timely manner, it raises awareness about the fact that we cannot agree on everything in the world.

Every speaker had a different view on what the color of the dress was and how it affected the audience but ultimately, #TheDress targeted everybody, which in my opinion is a success story. And while #TheDress did not break the internet, it definitely had a significant impact on the speakers at ACP.

It's a wrap

The weekend wrapped as a success story as Pulse took fourth in the feature magazine category, while our friends over at The Observer won best of show in weekly newspaper.

Blue and black or white and gold, you can say it was a solid weekend.

By theno1pick, Feb 19 2015 07:00PM

My mom likes to tell me stories about when I was little. Every morning she would wake me up singing "Wake up Little Suzie" and tug me out of bed to my already run warm bath. Breakfast would follow with my favorite: two hard-boiled eggs, scrambled with butter. We would then exchange conversation while she walked me to the bus stop and I went off for my day of school.

I still eat hard-boiled eggs with butter to this day.

The unfortunate part is that the rest is a distant memory. The songs in the morning, the warm bath and the walk to school have all but been forgotten.

I began to lose my memories after my parents' divorce in 1998. There's some medical terminology for what I've experienced. Something along the lines of repressed memories. Essentially what it means is that I took the memories that I had as a child and stored them away, deep in my subconscious, never to be found again. And now I only remember the bad ones.

The first time

Like the first time I gathered that my dad was cheating on my mom at age five. I remember seeing my dad jet out of the military barracks with another woman of asian descent. My mom followed him to the convenience store where the confrontation began. The next couple of minutes would follow with clamor and me being tossed from car to car.

Or another time when my mom boarded up the house so my dad could not get in. And when he finally made it through the door, high-pitched screams filled the room and drinking glasses were thrown at the wall, shattered into millions of imperceptible pieces. I recall hiding behind our rocking chair, hands over my ears, with my sister whispering in my ear, "Lindsey, it's going to be okay."

When my parents finally made the divorce official, there was lots of confusion that filled my mind. Why was this happening? Who will I live with? Is this my fault? All questions that I couldn't have possible answered at the time.

Two weeks later, my dad began dating another woman, and a year later, she became his third wife.

While growing up, I attended seven different schools by the age of 15, all within 30 minutes from each other. You see, I grew up a military brat and I like to think that had both positive and negative effects on the person I am today. My dad was somewhat of a strict father but it always kept me grounded. So when I graduated high school, the first thing my Dad said was, "You better go to college."

He always wanted more for me then a high school degree.

My mom never finished high school due to the fact that she was pregnant with her first child at age 16. On the other hand, my dad was given a full ride to college for basketball but partying in his first year landed him a spot back at home. He would go on to serve 21 years in the military.

So getting a college degree was never apart of my plan. But challenging myself to follow a new path was.

A new path

The first part of my new path began when I met my now-husband, Andrew. He was two years older than me and moved to Florida to go 'big' with his punk-rock band. Unexpectedly, we met and fell in love. I'm pretty sure I slipped the L-word soon after the first month.

I appreciated his passion for life, the fact that he was a devout christian, but especially that he was not military. And he showed me a different kind-of love than my Dad ever could.

Andrew pushed me to go back to school, find what I loved in life and pursue it. At 22, I re-enrolled in college and I've been attending ever since. But it wasn't until my senior year at Portland State University that I truly found what I was looking for.

After attending a Portland Trail Blazers game, I became inspired by the stories of professional athletes and I discovered a newfound passion for writing and storytelling. That moment changed the course of my future forever and directed me to pursue a degree in journalism.

This year I will graduate with my Bachelors degree. The first degree in my family.

While my experiences in life have never been typical, I've learned to let go of the things in my life that I cannot control. I can't control the decision I made to move in with my father instead of my mother when they divorced and I can't control the choices my parents made early in life, but I can control how I take those experiences and make better decisions for my own future.

I came across this photo. It's a memory I don't remember. But I recognize that nine-year-old girl as if I'm there now: smiling, laughing, living life to the fullest, much as I do today.

By theno1pick, Feb 15 2015 05:00PM

Since 1951, the NBA's All-Star weekend has widely been celebrated as a feature event showcasing the greatest professional basketball players in the league. From the rising skills challenge to the three-point contest, each weekend is action packed for basketball fanatics around the globe.

But as the event continues to excel, the talent pool becomes bigger and better every year; the 64th NBA All-Star Game being no different. While there are a select number of spots for the NBA's best to compete each year, there are many athletes who are snubbed from making the elite list.

All-Star snubs

After the All-Star reserves were announced in late Jan., it came as a shock to many that point-guard Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers and center DeMarcus Cousins of the Sacramento Kings, were not on the list. Lillard, who before voting was averaging 21.8 points, 6.2 assists and 4.6 rebounds per game, was an All-Star reserve in 2014. Cousins made his way into the MVP discussion early this season, ranking third in scoring (23.8 points) and third in rebounding (12.3 per) in the league. Many believe he was left off the reserve list in 2014 as well.

So much for giving credit when credit is due.

On the other hand, Oklahoma City Thunder small forward and 2014 NBA most valuable player (MVP) Kevin Durant, was selected to the All-Star game after missing 25 of the 46 games due to injuries.

A flawed system

Many people, including Charles Barkley, went on to argue that Kevin Durant and guard Chris Paul of the Los Angeles Clippers', should not have been selected to the team. Barkley focused on a flawed voting system and stressed the importance that voting be based on current seasons and not past performance.

As Barkley said here, "You can't just keep rewarding guys for what they used to be."

While Kevin Durant is undeniably one of the best players in the NBA, it's unfair for a player to be selected based on past performance while other players, such as Lillard and Cousins, have been performing at a high level all year long.

The present selection process involves the starting lineup being picked by fan vote, usually selected via Twitter or online voting on the NBA's website. The reserves are then chosen by the NBA's 30 head coaches.

Although the fan vote is important, it's also been proven to be faulty. For example, point-guard Kobe Bryant from the Los Angeles Lakers, was selected as a starter for the 2015 All-Star game. The Lakers were second to last in the Western Conference before the All-Star break at 13-40 overall.

Bryant tore his rotator cuff in his right shoulder during the Lakers loss to the San Antonio Spurs in mid Jan., and was ruled out for the rest of the season. He played just six games last season due to knee and Achilles injuries.

Making changes

My personal opinion is that major changes need to take place. For one, I believe that the fan-vote for starters should be ruled out. It gives both the Western and Eastern conference coaches the ability to select the best athletes for the line-up. Furthermore, it rules out any possibility that players are selected based on popularity rather than performance.

Another suggestion would be for more spots to be added to each conference's roster. After Lillard was left off the roster, he took to social media to voice his opinion on the shun.

In response, NBA commissioner Adam Silver responded by saying that he would be open to the idea of adding additional roster spots.

"I'm in favor of expanding it. I'm not sure if it's by one or two (roster spots), but it is something Michelle Roberts and I will discuss," Silver said. "I wish I had another slot for Damian [Lillard] because I think he's deserving of being an All-Star as well."

Luckily for Cousins and Lillard, injuries by Bryant and Los Angeles Clippers power forward Blake Griffin, cleared the way for roster spots in the All-Star game.

But in a year without the injury prone, these athletes would have not gotten to compete. It's time to revisit this issue so that deserving players aren't stripped of a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

By theno1pick, Feb 4 2015 07:00PM

One of the sports journalists that I personally admire is Erin Andrews.

Since the early 2000's, Andrews has dominated the sports journalism industry, regularly appearing on networks such as FOX and ESPN. Her on-air game coverage includes many major sporting events such as the Super Bowl and the World Series. And in 2007 and 2008, Playboy Magazine named her "America's Sexiest Broadcaster."

So much for recognizing her journalistic talents.

Breaking the glass ceiling

As someone who is a woman pursuing journalism on a higher level, its discouraging to feel that despite the many strides women are making to "break the glass ceiling," women are continuously being recognized for the wrong reasons. And the media is perpetuating those stereotypes.

According to a commissioned report by the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sports, the majority of female columnists and editors worked for ESPN. However, without ESPN, "90 percent of sports editors are white and 90 percent are male."

And despite the few female sports reporters that do exist, much of the media presented in regards to women in the sports journalism industry are about their looks. Like these by Bleacher Report, showcasing the 20 Sexiest Sports Reporters of 2012 and the 50 Hottest Female Sports Broadcasters from Around the World.

More bad news

So what does this mean for women journalists who are not in the broadcast field? Can they not be successful as well?

Well, it's bad news for those women too.

According to the Women's Media Center in 2014, men are far more likely to be quoted than women in newspapers, television and public radio. The same survey found that of the 35 women who were sports columnists in the survey, 23 worked for ESPN. Without ESPN staffers, the percentage of female columnists would slip from 12.8 percent to 4.8 percent of all columnists.

What I've learned

Fast forward to 2015.

Whether you're a woman in sports broadcast or an editor of a sports magazine, the struggles that women will face in the field, over the next couple of years, will highly depend on the media. Sexist coverage of women not only defy stereotypes, such as the one that all women in sports broadcast have to be beautiful, with blonde hair, blue eyes, but they also perpetuate a general lack of disrespect for women everywhere.

We still have a long way to go.