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Media Masters

Author: Media Masters

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Extended one-to-one interviews with the key people in the industry. Find out their tips for career success, and peek behind-the-scenes at their workplace. Candid, thoughtful and reflective - a chance to share the insight of those at the very top of their game. Presented by Paul Blanchard.
355 Episodes
Ashkan Karbasfrooshan is founder and CEO of WatchMojo. One of the most popular brands on YouTube with 40 million subscribers, their 25,000 videos have been viewed 17 billion times, and last year surpassed 100 billion minutes of watch time. Founded in 2006, the company has 50 full-time employees with offices in Montreal, New York City, Los Angeles and London. In this in-depth interview, Ashkan shares the highs and lows of his entrepreneurial journey - from starting the company at 27, facing financial and courtroom difficulties, eventually becoming profitable by “running out of ways to fail” and then winning Ernst & Young ‘Entrepreneur of the Year;’ discusses his relationship of “mutual dependence” with YouTube, working through copyright issues by encouraging a change in policies at the platform to protect WatchMojo’s content; and shares his ambitions to become “the most admired media company in the world” - and how he plans to get there.
José Díaz-Balart is anchor of Noticias Telemundo and NBC’s Nightly News Saturday. The only TV journalist to broadcast regularly in two languages, he has interviewed every US president since Ronald Reagan, and is an Emmy, Peabody and Alfred duPont award winner. In this in-depth interview, José welcomes the growing number of Latino voices on-air and celebrates networks’ growing commitment to diversity and representation on-screen; discusses a journalism career spanning four decades, and his inspiration to challenge the under-representation of US Latinos - with 60 million people, it ‘would be the eighth largest GDP on earth;’ and delves into his new digital series ‘American Dreaming,’ which shines a light on the human story behind immigrants’ journeys and the plight of ‘mixed-status’ families.
Juliet Kinsman is sustainability editor at Condé Nast Traveller. Founded in 1997, the luxury magazine has headquarters in New York and a monthly readership of over 5 million. Joining the UK team last year with this first-time title, Juliet has been a leading voice for the travel media for more than two decades as a successful author, writing columns for The Telegraph and as resident expert on BBC Radio London. As founding editor of Mr & Mrs Smith she was instrumental in creating a disruptive editorial brand, transitioning published hotel guidebooks into an award-winning online authority. In this in-depth interview, Juliet shares her hopes to inspire real change through “honest writing” about the travel industry – that sustainability is not “anti-flight,” but helping tourists become aware of the socio-economic impact they’re having on the environment, local economy and indigenous people; details the depth of the cataclysmic impact the pandemic has had, and the importance of educating and encouraging consumers to make better decisions; and reflects on why she remains hopeful for the industry’s future, arguing that travellers can play their part in helping the sector recover with a “postpone don’t cancel” attitude.
Joy Macknight is editor of The Banker. Founded in 1926, published by the Financial Times, the monthly magazine is the go-to industry source. After a long career in financial journalism, she joined in 2015 and was promoted to editor five years later - the first woman to hold the job in 95 years. In this in-depth interview, Joy discusses the significant economic challenge the pandemic has brought - and just how difficult the next few years could be; shares how the industry is dealing with a generational shift in millennials’ expectations - with the future of retail banking “hyper-personalised and digital-first;” and argues the sector needs to accelerate progress made on growing female leadership - suggesting practical ideas to help make it happen.
Andrew Wallenstein is president and chief media analyst of the Variety Intelligence Platform. Founded last year, the product provides insight and data to Hollywood executives, helping guide their decision-making and strategy. Andrew previously spent nine years as Variety’s co-editor-in-chief, and prior to this held senior positions at Ad Age and the Hollywood Reporter, and contributed on-air at NPR and PBS. In this in-depth interview, Andrew shares the outcome of their plan to pivot and reposition the Variety brand, which had “fallen behind the times;” discusses the sheer scale of devastation the pandemic has had on Hollywood, and difficulties in the forthcoming recovery; and welcomes the surge in demand for streaming services, but argues that the growing number of platforms is not sustainable - predicting an imminent consolidation with fewer, more dominant providers.
Josh Ellis is editor-in-chief of SUCCESS magazine. Founded in 1897, the title inspires its readers with ideas, strategies and profiles of successful people. Joining the team in 2012 after a long career in sports journalism, including writing for the Dallas Cowboys, he runs the magazine from their Texas HQ, which boasts a total reach of 8 million readers. In this in-depth interview, Josh discusses the evolution of the very meaning of ‘success’ across three centuries of publishing; argues the pandemic has “made the world feel more turbulent than ever,” necessitating time away from social media to improve mental health; and outlines their efforts to champion diversity to become a true “mirror of society” - and move away from outdated ‘alpha male’ leadership.
Angela Henshall is senior producer of 50:50 The Equality Project. Founded in 2017, the scheme is the BBC’s most significant initiative to date to increase women’s voices in the media. With 70 organisations also signed up worldwide, they have already doubled female representation on-air in just three years. She is also deputy editor of, and before this held senior positions at the Wall Street Journal, AFP and Dow Jones. In this in-depth interview, Angela shares with pride the project’s successes, with many shows already achieving a full gender balance - including BBC Breakfast, the Andrew Marr Show and The One Show; discusses the nuts and bolts of how participating organisations report their results, with programme makers acknowledging that the very act of counting and submitting returns helps them recognise their blind spots; and describes their expansion in both scope and scale - with global corporations such as Unilever now taking part, and plans to tackle under-representation regarding ethnicity and disability too.
Clifton Leaf is editor-in-chief of FORTUNE. Founded in 1929 with headquarters in New York, the iconic business publication has a total worldwide reach of 20 million. Appointed in 2017, after a career spent at Time Inc, Dow Jones, and several other magazine companies, in 2005 he received the Gerald Loeb Award for distinguished business journalism. His critically-acclaimed book ‘Why We’re Losing the War on Cancer - And How To Win It’ is a searing indictment of the limited progress made in fighting the disease, and a call-to-arms to step up the battle. In this in-depth interview, Clifton discusses the changes in strategy made under new owner, Thai blockchain billionaire Chatchaval Jiaravanon, with a renewed commitment to “provocative storytelling” and “no longer playing it safe;” argues that the Covid pandemic has brought opportunities amidst the pain, and makes the case for optimism as the world economy emerges from lockdown; and shares their ambitious plan to leverage their impactful lists - including the iconic FORTUNE 500 - to inspire change, and focus on the leadership successes of women & people of colour.
Judd Legum is founder and editor-in-chief of Popular Information. Launched in 2018, the hugely influential newsletter covers democracy, politics and power “for people who give a damn.” Beginning his career as a lawyer, he moved into journalism in 2005 and founded the news website ThinkProgress, becoming research director for Hillary Clinton two years later. In this in-depth interview, Judd discusses his decision to remove their paywall during the pandemic to widen access and increase their impact; shares his front row seat on Hillary Clinton’s campaign for the 2008 democratic nomination - and his thoughts on why she lost; and recalls recent successes, including shaming restaurant chain Olive Garden into paying their staff when absent due to illness.
Brandon Borrman is vice president of global communications at Twitter. One of the most powerful PR professionals worldwide, Brandon joined Twitter in 2018, and leads a team of 60 people - helping shape the platform’s evolution, and leading their media relations strategy. In this in-depth interview, Brandon takes us behind the scenes on the decision to suspend President Trump’s account; describes the challenge of tackling the toxicity and bullying on the platform, balanced with continuing to allow anonymous accounts; and shares his mission to fundamentally change how Silicon Valley engages with the media internationally - by encouraging greater openness and transparency.
John Paton is chairman of the Independent and Evening Standard, and a non-executive director at the Home Office. With a long career as an executive and investor, he has led media companies across the US, Canada and Europe, overseen $7bn in financial transactions, and has previously served on the board of prominent organisations such as the Guardian Media Group. In this in-depth interview, John outlines their ambitious plans for global growth - having abandoned the Independent’s paper edition, the now-digital operation is “hugely profitable” and “targeting $100m in revenue;” describes their strategy to overcome the enormous challenge the Evening Standard has faced with an “empty London;” and takes us behind the scenes of his working relationship with two high-profile and enigmatic figures - Lord Evgeny Lebedev, and the home secretary Priti Patel. 
Paul Tweed is an international media lawyer. One of the world’s foremost reputation managers, he has never lost a libel case, and has an impressive roster of clients including Liam Neeson, The Duchess of York, Justin Timberlake, Jennifer Lopez, Harrison Ford and Johnny Depp. In this in-depth interview, Paul takes us behind-the-scenes of some of his most high-profile cases, including an early win for Britney Spears, for whom he was the first in the business to obtain a media apology; argues that the law must be strengthened to protect us from online giants, who “believe they are so powerful that the rules do not apply;” and expresses his strong support for “protecting investigative journalism at all costs,” noting his long history representing both reporters and MPs, he explains why we’re still yet to see the full threat posed by fake news and the impact this will have on the media.  
Media Masters - Tom Rogers

Media Masters - Tom Rogers


Tom Rogers is a media and technology industry leader who has revolutionised TV business news and TV itself. Best known for his time as the first-ever president of NBC Cable, he created CNBC and MSNBC and then spent eleven years as President of TiVo - transforming TV consumption globally and bringing Amazon & Netflix to our screens. In 2006, he received an Emmy for outstanding contribution to the development of television, and was inducted into the Broadcasting Hall of Fame. In this in-depth interview, Tom reflects on the incredible journey launching iconic news brands, CNBC and MSNBC - amidst the industry’s conventional wisdom that CNN’s dominance could never be challenged; describes the serious threat cable is under with the competition posed by increasingly popular streaming platforms calling its very survival into question; and shares his predictions for broadcasting’s future - and how the entertainment landscape is set to be dominated by esports and gaming. 
Andy Coulson is a strategic media advisor to CEOs and global leaders. In a meteoric career which included editing the News of the World and serving as Prime Minister David Cameron’s director of communications, it all came crashing down in 2014 when he was convicted of conspiring to intercept communications and sent to prison. Andy apologised for making significant mistakes as editor but denied - and still denies - breaking the law. In this in-depth interview, Andy reflects on the lessons learned from his time in jail and how “reverting back to his journalistic instincts” boosted his resilience and fortitude; shares the ambition behind his podcast ‘Crisis What Crisis,’ which features a diverse array of high-profile guests - and aims to give listeners practical “landing lights” to help overcome their own difficulties; and criticises the government for aspects of their handling of pandemic communication - arguing that their “disease of don’t know ... may have, at times, needlessly eroded public confidence.”
Tim Harford OBE is an economist, writer and broadcaster. A Financial Times senior columnist, presenter of BBC Radio 4’s ‘More or Less,’ TedX speaker and honorary fellow of the Royal Statistical Society, he was awarded an OBE in 2019 for services to improving economic understanding. His best-selling book ‘The Undercover Economist’ enlightened millions of readers about the economic principles powering everyday life. In this in-depth interview, Tim discusses his mission to encourage people to have a positive and “healthy scepticism” towards statistics and data, as the best way to tackle fake news and widespread misinformation; shares his motivation for writing his latest book where he tempts his readers to share his love of statistics; and argues that the UK government needs to “get its priorities right on research” - with more money currently being spent on measuring sport than on crime… 
Julia Angwin is co-founder and editor-in-chief of The Markup. Founded in 2019, the nonprofit newsroom has pioneered open-source data journalism to hold Big Tech to account and assess its impact on society. A winner (and two-time finalist) of the Pulitzer Prize, Julia previously held senior positions at ProPublica and The Wall Street Journal, and is author of the best-selling book ‘Dragnet Nation,’ a searing exposé of America’s “surveillance economy.” In this in-depth interview, Julia shares the reasons behind their newsroom’s determination to tackle fake news, and give their readers the tools to decipher between truth and propaganda; expresses her concern that social giants’ decisions are taken behind a “veil of secrecy” and The Markup’s mission to “stem the power grab from these largely unregulated platforms;” and describes how witnessing the recent riots at the US Capitol has redoubled her passion, determination and commitment to journalism itself... as “necessary for democracy.”
Errin Haines is founder and editor-at-large of The 19th*. Founded a year ago and based in Austin, Texas, the nonprofit, non-partisan newsroom covers the intersection of women, politics and policy. Named after the US Constitution’s 19th Amendment, their mission is to encourage the participation and representation of marginalised people in democracy. Her career has taken in senior positions at the Associated Press, The Washington Post, The Los Angeles Times and she is also a regular on-air contributor for MSNBC; and was recently appointed Ferris Professor at Princeton University, teaching a class on the role of race in the 2020 election. In this in-depth interview, Errin delves into her newsroom’s commitment to changing the narrative around underrepresented groups - and how their reporting avoids “cheap shots, cheerleading, partisanship and clickbait;” describes America’s recent “national reckoning” with insurmountable racial tensions and identity politics continually “shaping who and where we are as a country;” and shares her experience as a Black female reporter writing about President Trump’s racist rhetoric, and her hopes that Kamala Harris, the US’s first female, Black and south Asian to take the role, is the giant leap that American democracy needs. 
Jamie East is a broadcaster, journalist and podcaster. Known for his witty commentary on showbiz and entertainment, he started ‘Holy Moly’ in 2002, which went on to become one of Britain’s largest and most influential gossip sites. He has presented Channel 5’s ‘Big Brother’s Bit On The Side’ and ‘Thronecast’ for Sky Atlantic - and has recently launched his new daily podcast ‘The Smart 7’ which summaries the news in seven minutes. In this in-depth interview, Jamie argues that traditional celebrity culture is “dying” as celebrities no longer need to cooperate with journalists, due to Gen Z’s preference for social media and its influencers; shares his reasons for resigning from talkRADIO in protest at a fellow presenter ripping up his face mask live on air; and reflects on his entrepreneurial highs and lows - with ‘Holy Moly’ failing to fulfil its potential after he sold 50% of it to Endemol, and the huge success of ‘The Smart 7’ which has recently celebrated its two millionth download.
Melanie Leach is CEO of South Shore Productions, and has spent decades creating iconic programmes for the BBC, ITV, Netflix, and beyond. Her production credits include the Emmy award-winning ‘Educating’ series for Channel 4, ‘The Real Marigold Hotel’ for the BBC - and ‘Hotel Inspector,’ now Channel 5’s longest-running show. Launched in 2019, and backed financially by ITV Studios, South Shore creates documentary, popular factual and entertainment programmes for stations and streaming platforms globally. In this in-depth interview, Melanie takes us behind-the-scenes of the whole process in creating a TV show - from the initial idea, through production, and ultimately to broadcast; shares both frustration and optimism at the opportunities created by new streaming platforms, tempered with the almost insurmountable production difficulties created by Covid-19; and discusses her ongoing quest to create and deliver “the next TV show game-changer” equalling the impact of ‘Who Wants to be a Millionaire.’ 
Stephen Sackur is the presenter of BBC HARDTalk - the most popular news interview programme in the world, with 70 million viewers. Before this, he was an award-winning BBC foreign correspondent covering landmark global events such as 9/11, the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin and the civil war in Sri Lanka. In this in-depth interview, he takes us behind the scenes on the “crackling tension” in the HARDTalk studio; reflects on some of his career highlights, from the first ever on-screen interview with Hugo Chávez, to getting Dr Anthony Fauci’s take on America’s handling of the pandemic; and defends the “dying art” of the long-form interview, which remains “hugely important and very compelling.”   
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