Lifestyle journalism is unique. In contrast to breaking or trending news coverage, lifestyle journalism is all about the story’s impact on a personal level. From commentary on cultural movements and shifts to innovations and product reviews, lifestyle journalists have a unique job of informing, reviewing, and shaping conversations that we resonate with as a society. In our Coffee with a Journalist podcast, we sit down with various journalists each week to talk about their experiences, story-crafting processes, and views on journalism’s impact and future. We spoke with 3 journalists on writing lifestyle stories and how they create the articles and pieces that reflect and shape our daily lives.
Here are what 3 journalists had to say about writing lifestyle stories:
Lifestyle journalism is not a clear-cut beat. As wide a range as lifestyle journalism encompasses, it is often up to the journalist in deciding what he or she wants to cover and spotlight. The choice in what to feature is largely dependent on a journalist’s point of view and their understanding of their audience.
For Alana Hope Levinson, Deputy Editor at MEL Magazine, much of her insight comes from her immersion in internet culture. She states, “I definitely very much came up on the Internet as a reporter and, earlier in my career, wrote about digital culture. So a lot of the ideas I do get are from Twitter or from Internet culture. That’s just where most conversations are being had.”
In addition to listening to her social landscape, Alana looks inward at her day-to-day reflections of her own experiences. Alana specifies, “a lot of my best stories come from things I’m thinking about, things that have happened to me, things I’m noticing.” She advises her writers that “a lot of times, their best stories are happening in their own communities or in their families, in their own life history.”
Alana makes a great point in understanding that lifestyle journalism is about reflecting real life at the end of the day. It is about understanding what is going on around you and interpreting all of that information into something that is cohesive and authentic.
Like Alana, Joshua Pinkay is a lifestyle reporter who is a constant observer of life as well as a listener of his audience. Joshua serves as a Senior Editor at both SoCal and Obvious Magazines. Each outlet requires him to examine his environment through different lenses, each with its own objectives. For Socal Magazine, Joshua is very cognizant of his audience. Joshua states, “I pay attention to my audience and who’s reading my stuff. And in all honesty, I don’t speak to a luxury audience. I like the products and items that are accessible. I like experiences that are accessible because I think that’s the wider audience. So that definitely is a factor in what I choose to feature. I want to speak to real people.”
For Obvious Magazine, much of Joshua’s focus is on the cultural and social impact lifestyle journalism can have. When talking about this shift in coverage, he says, “I focus more on the human interest side of things there.”
Joshua is not the only one who manages different areas of lifestyle coverage. Macy Cate Williams, a Senior Shopping Editor at PopSugar, distills her coverage into 3 main “content buckets”. Firstly, she has content that is highly strategic and SEO based. Describing this bucket, Macy tells us, “The first one is SEO, so Search Engine Optimization and things people are looking for on Google. So I’m looking at Google trends every single day to see what needs we can fulfill for our readers through our shopping content.”
The second category she has is for specific shopping product releases within her beat. She notes that this bucket interacts very much with PR professionals in inspiring and creating these stories. Macy says that this is “ really where the PR relationships come into. Those are the sorts of things we’re writing about when new stuff comes up.”
Lastly, aside from SEO-focused or partnership content, Macy creates stories in her favorite section: product reviews. She tells us why she enjoys this facet as the stories are about, “things that me and my editors have tested ourselves, whether it be organically, just randomly buying something and loving it, or a PR person pitching a cool, new product and us getting a first look at it or testing it out.”
She continues saying, “those are really fun because we get to do original photos and really get our hands on the products that we’re writing about.” It is this intimate and authentic aspect of lifestyle journalism that makes the content so enjoyable and informative. Though they may be featuring items for commercial or promotional purposes, there still is a strong underlying passion and curiosity that bleeds through the piece.
Nevertheless, no matter who your audience is or what inspires a story, always remember the human aspect of lifestyle journalism. You are not simply writing words out into a void. Whether you are writing commentary about the newest social movement or a product review on the latest lifestyle brand, the stories you craft shine a light on unseen perspectives, inform readers about unknown solutions, and connect people across various walks of life. In the end, never forget to keep it human-focused.
In this age-old profession, learning from the journalists that have come before you has always been a key tool in bettering your journalism. Are you an aspiring journalist looking to break into the industry? Check out our blog, 4 Journalists on Breaking into Journalism, where we chat with 4 journalists from PopSugar, Ad Age, Obvious Magazine, and Quartz about how they got their start. For more great perspectives right from the mouths of journalists themselves, be sure to subscribe to the podcast and follow us on Twitter to stay updated on the latest podcast episodes and blog releases!