Self, Glamour, Prevention, Time Out and Family Circle are just some of the magazines that Maridel Reyes has worked for and contributed to, but when she took up a position as National Editor of an online newsletter and website, she traded interviewing the likes of Bono and Caroline Kennedy for the perks of writing about health not to mention working from home, a situation she describes as “stay-at-home mom without a kid.” In this interview, Maridel discusses her future career goals and explains why she thinks that no matter how magazines may change, one thing that seems to remain is readers’ obsession with ‘lose weight now’ headlines.
Job: National Editor at Vital Juice, a daily health and wellness newsletter and web site
What is the biggest change for you as you switched from being an editor at a magazine to an editor at an online newsletter? Which position do you prefer?
Magazines have such a long lead-time–you plan an issue six months in advance and stories go through at least 3 revises. Writing for an online publication is exciting because it’s so immediate. If I try out a new workout this morning, I could publish a story about it the next day. And while I love magazines, the majority of my day is spent reading news online.
Based on your experience, why do you think there has been such reluctance on the part of some in the print industry to move online?
I think there is still that stigma that online isn’t as rigorous or prestigious as print. And perhaps there is a mental barrier because the web is free. Many print outlets still are clueless as to how they can make money off their websites.
Coming from a background in journalism, how tough/easy has it been for you to adapt to your new professional environment and how much do you feel you have had to compromise in order to find a job?
Oh, that’s a tough one. Let’s just say, a lot of what they teach you in journalism school is far too idealistic.
What was one of the most exciting moments in your work life?
Seeing a story you wrote as a cover line on a magazine is something you never get over. I cover a lot of celebrity events for New York Magazine, so I might interview Bono at a party (the biggest star I’ve interviewed) or go backstage at fashion shows and interview designers and celebs in the front row. I once interviewed Caroline Kennedy for 15 minutes and almost died.
What is your top career goal?
I used to say that my end goal is to be an Editor in Chief, but as I’ve worked at a few places I see how much of your life you have to give up for that position. You have to live it and breathe it 24/7. I’d still like to be high on the masthead–a top editor–but I won’t consider myself a failure if I never become an Editor in Chief.
What drew you to writing about health? Do certain categories of writing tend to pay more or offer more benefits for the writer?
I sort of fell into writing about health. I knew I wanted to work at a women’s publication. I’m from Southern California, so I’ve been health-conscious from a young age. My favorite magazine was a health magazine, so when that magazine offered me a job, it was a dream come true. I specifically did NOT want to go into newspapers because I didn’t like the lifestyle. My friends at newspapers had to start in small towns, toil at a boring beat and aren’t allowed many of the perks that come with working for a major magazine. A lot of magazine perks have been cut, but many editors still get free products to try and get invited to nice parties.
How important is it for you to have an active healthy lifestyle and how do you go about maintaining such a lifestyle?
It’s import for my personal well being to exercise and eat right. I just feel better when I’m taking care of myself. I get antsy if I haven’t exercised in a while. I cook most of my meals, and I make sure that I’m eating healthy 80% of the time. That means low-calorie, high fiber, lots of veggies and fruits. I say every week that I’ll go to the gym 5x, but most weeks, I’m happy if I make it 4 times.
Being able to work from anywhere must have its advantages and setbacks; can you share some of the pros and cons?
I didn’t think I would like it, but I’m obsessed with it! I feel more productive at home. I can start work earlier because I don’t spend time commuting or putting on makeup or fixing my hair. I eat healthier because I don’t snack on all the free food that inevitably would show up at the office. And I can run an errand or go to the gym in the middle of the day. (That makes me feel like a stay-at-home mom without a kid.)
In terms of the downsides, it’s hard to separate my work life from my personal life. When deadlines get crazy and I’m juggling a few projects, it feels like I am always working. It’s tempting to take your laptop to bed and keep replying to work emails or do research for a story. (Guilty as charged.) But the flexibility my job affords me is worth it.
For women, what tend to be the more popular topics in health?
The #1 topic, hands down, is weight loss. It’s funny, because women say they are interested in certain topics, but when you break it down, they really want to read about how to be skinny and pretty.