In a world of struggling economy, century old media institutions failures, and a challenging job market, it is really refreshing to hear about someone actually landing their dream job. California native Cate Corcoran did just that by landing her new role as managing editor of the blog Brownstoner.
“This is my dream job,” said Corcoran. “I’ve been an active member of the Brownstoner community since 2008, and I’ve met many neighbors through the site. I live in Brooklyn, where my husband and I are renovating a 1890s wood-frame house.”
Brownstoner has an obsession with historic Brooklyn brownstones and the neighborhoods and lifestyles they define. And as for Corcoran, she wouldn’t have it any other way. In fact, it’s the most enjoyable aspect of her new position.
“It’s wonderful covering a topic I’m so passionate about for a site I love so much. Everyone on staff takes a lot of photos for the site, and it is great fun to get outside, tour Brooklyn, and exercise,” she said.
Before joining the online world, Corcoran spent the last seven years as a technology editor for the fashion industry newspaper Women’s Wear Daily. There, she spent her time covering the intersection of technology and fashion with a particular emphasis on social media. Shifting from a more traditional role at a media company and moving into the wild west of running a blog can be a daunting task for some, but not for Corcoran.
“It was a pretty natural transition for me since I’ve been obsessed with Brooklyn and real estate for a long time,” she said. “I used to send in tips and wrote the occasional post for Brownstoner.”
At the same time, she does acknowledge the differences between print media and blogging. “The pace is certainly different. At Brownstoner, we try to write and post most stories in about 30 minutes. At WWD, a daily newspaper with a large staff, I could take a day to write a story.”
Although Corcoran did not take the traditional path of most journalists by actually majoring in journalism in college she said she always “wanted to be a writer because I loved to read so much.”
She added, “I admire Mary McCarthy and Joan Didion, though obviously reported journalism is very different from essays and fiction. I studied anthropology, so had to kind of slip into journalism through a side door.”
Even without a degree in journalism, Corcoran has been working in the media industry for more than 20 years. She started out as an editorial assistant at a technology magazine in California, and from the beginning had the foresight to supplement her income with freelance writing. Over the years, she has contributed to notable publications such as New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal and Slate.
Still, making a living in today’s constantly changing media landscape can be a challenge.
“Digital media has had a huge impact on advertising revenue, which has meant there are fewer and fewer jobs for print journalists. At the same time, there are more opportunities for journalists to start their own sites, if they want to take that risk. I think it’s great that anyone can publish, and you don’t have to be a ‘professional.’ In fact, that’s the subject of a book I’m working on. In the freelance world, there are more opportunities to publish than ever, but very little opportunity to get paid more than 50 cents a word.”
Having a finger on the pulse of the latest technologies is the key to longevity in any career these days. Coming from a technology background, Corcoran has certainly proven that some social media fads are worth investing time in.
“Without social media, Brownstoner wouldn’t exist,” she said. “In general, the rise of blogs and news aggregation has profoundly changed the speed and style of media coverage. For example, The New York Times is much more transparent than it used to be, and that’s partly because it has created its own blogs in response to the rise of other blogs.”
Social media has also had an effect on Corcoran’s own reporting over the last few years. “For sites that aggregate or re-blog, as we do, Twitter can be very important for finding out about something the minute it happens. Facebook, not so much. Although I do use Facebook to follow community groups such as Occupy Sunset Park and the rent strike in Sunset Park. Naturally, we use social media to publicize our own stories.”
Corcoran plans to continue the same focus and quality of coverage that Brownstoner has always offered.
“Long term we’d like to cover more interiors and people, and of course increase our readership,” she said.
Email is the best way to reach Corcoran.
“We love tips and photos of new buildings going up, sales, unusual real estate activity, etc., as longas it’s about Brooklyn. We only cover Brooklyn.”
She can also be found on Pinterest at @catec.
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