October 19, 2014
International Talk: Jazmine Denise Rogers, News Writer at Madamenoire.com
Jazmine Denise Rogers is a News Writer for madamenoire.com a popular black women’s lifestyle guide for the latest in black hair care, relationship advice, fashion trends, black entertainment news & parenting tips in the United States. Jazmine, a New York Native, successfully made the move from a career in Psychology to Journalism after completing a BA in English at Suny Old Westbury University in New York and a MA in Arts, Entertainment and Media Management at the Metropolitan College of New York.
Can you tell our readers about your role at madamenoire.com?
I am News Writer at madamenoire.com which involves writing the top stories of the day for our website. A key part of my job is to ensure our stories are interesting and spark discussions so that our readers keep returning to the site. They get very excited and I have to understand what will make them tick, cause a little controversy and have them coming back to our site for more stories!
How did you get the job at madamenoire.com?
After I graduated from Graduate school, I really wanted the opportunity to write for madamenoire.com so I sent them some sample articles. One of the Editors replied to my email and explained that she was impressed with my work and that I should pitch a few ideas to her and the team- if they liked them they would offer me a position as a freelance writer. I pitched some ideas to the team-they liked my ideas and offered me the position. From there on, I freelanced for 7 months when at that point they offered me the position of Freelance News Writer. In June 2014 I was offered that role as a full time member of staff.
So you got your desired role by reaching out to them directly?
Yes I did by just putting myself out there. It was a very long and frustrating road to get here because there were many companies who ignored my emails. To finally get a response from an Editor who was willing to mentor me was great. I was very unpolished because I didn’t have experience or training, however, my Editor guided me along the way by giving me advice on my working style. Eventually with her guidance I was able to learn the ropes. My growth is definitely because of her and she is the best!
So when did you discover that Journalism was the career for you?
It is a funny story! I broke my ankle, during my sophomore (2nd) year in university and was on bed rest for 4 months. During that time I believe god guided me along the way and I found myself sitting at home writing things, creating mock magazine covers and just amusing myself. I showed it all to my mum and she asked me ‘Is this what you want to do career wise? I feel this may be what you really want but I feel like you may be holding back and I think you should go after writing as a career’. I was initially a major in Psychology but when I returned to university the next term I spoke to a counsellor and she advised me that if I have an interest in writing that I should pursue this as a career. I loved English and was always a star English student so I just switched my course to Major in English. I was very fortunate whilst I was at university to have amazing teachers. They weren’t necessarily media savvy but they saw I had a gift and guided me in the right direction.
In your opinion, how important are teachers in helping shape a young person’s career?
I think professors are extremely important. I had two professors who really moulded me. Professor Margaret Torrell was my advisor throughout university. She helped me find my first internship at a local newspaper and I still keep in touch with her today. Nicholas Powers, who currently writes for The Independynt (US) was another teacher. He was feared at our university as he was a tough marker. I remember turning in my first mid-term paper and he gave me an A with a note on it that wrote ‘Go to Graduate school’. I was so shocked and thought if he is telling me to go to Graduate school then maybe I do have some talent. It gave me the confidence to know that I could pursue a career in Media. Straight afterwards, I got my MBA specialising in Media.
Do you think the future of Journalism is going to be online?
Absolutely, I completed my MBA with a concentration on Media and they advised us not to look at print (magazines) and focus on digital publications. Initially, I felt that I was not a valid writer because I did not have a great deal of print experience but after completing my MBA I realised that digital is the direction that the industry is heading towards. The slogan for our parent company Moguldum is ‘All we know is digital’-so I definitely believe that this is where Media is heading.
Is working for an online publication more intense than working for a print magazine due to constantly having to report daily news-sometimes on the hour?
I think that there is a lot more pressure working for an online publication because you have to be current as there are things that happen so quickly and you have to be up to date on the story! When Joan Rivers passed away recently, there was a big lead up to it because she was in a coma for about a week. A friend at another publication already had the story reporting of her death prepared and written up before it was confirmed. They had the template ready to go because with the web you have to be very quick because the story could travel fast via social media!
Do you think you will always work for an online publication?
If you asked me two years ago what my ideal job would be I would have said it was to be the Editor –in-Chief of a print publication. However, now I would stick with digital. I feel like I am a native of the digital era.
Describe a day in the life of Jazmine Denise Rogers
I get up at 5:30am and get to work at 8am. I am usually the second person in the office. I then look around for news, what is happening and what would be the biggest story and draw for our audience. From there I send an email to our team of 6 and tell them what I am going to cover today and the first couple of stories that I am going to start with.
Throughout the day I am constantly looking for more news and content to push out as well as getting my own exclusives. If I see something happening in the news with a celebrity and I happen to have a contact- I reach out and ask for a statement or interview. I am responsible for sending our newsletter to our readers. That involves me scanning our site and picking out the top stories of the day and sending that to our readers.
A big part of my job is to build connections and relationships, so after work I go to events in the evening or weekends. Last Saturday I went to an event for a new TV Show starring Tracee Ellis Ross-Black-ish. Going to events is a big part of my job because you want to be out there working to get that exclusive because you never know what’s going to happen or who is going to be there. I may get the opportunity to speak to someone worthwhile.
So you interview a lot of celebrities-who has been your favourite?
I have interviewed a lot of celebrities such as Nia Long, Trey Songz, Keke Palmer (US Actress) Tracee Ellis Ross and Remy Ma (US Rapper). My favourite celebrity interview was with Lorenz Tate. He was really fun and was just so warm and welcoming. Sometimes when you interview celebrities even though you do it often it can be intimidating. However, Lorenz Tate made me feel so comfortable like we were old friends and I really appreciated that.
What has been your worst interview?
I was invited to a charity event and was supposed to interview the woman who was holding the event. I had been waiting to interview this woman for an hour and just as I was about to speak to her, the lady’s publicist came up to me and said ‘I am sorry she can’t speak to anyone else. Maybe you can try to catch her later on’. I knew that was not going to happen and I was very frustrated and flustered because I waited for so long. However, I was polite and said ‘Ok’ and left the event.
Afterwards I emailed the publicist who invited me to the event and explained to her what happened and expressed my disappointment. It was not to be nasty but I had to ensure that I stood up for myself and for them to understand that my time was valuable. The publicist apologised and offered to set up another interview which went very well! However, it taught me a lesson, that you will have setbacks along the way and you have to push through them. It is important to know when to stand up for yourself but also when to check your attitude.
Do you have any mentors in the industry who you can call on for support?
For writing, my mentor is my professor from university- Nicholas Powers. For Media, I wouldn’t say I have a mentor but I do have a good circle of friends who I can fall back on. We are all working in Media and trying to figure everything out. We support each other.
What challenges have you faced during your career?
Media is very competitive and you will get rejected a great deal. However, there may be a yes around the corner. So I just had to make sure I did not get discouraged. You have to be persistent and not give up and trust in your ability and dreams. If you can dream it then it can happen! Eventually if you keep pushing you will get to where you want to be.
What is it like being a woman in Media in the United States? Is it hard to reach senior positions?
Our office is predominantly female and mostly women of colour. So I haven’t seen many males in my industry. All the friends who I have that work in Media are women! So I am not sure if it’s because we are online but it is one complaint that I don’t have. I think in the US the issue is more about race. However, I know that in other industries sexism plays a major role.
We would like to thank Jazmine for taking the time to meet with our founder Vanessa Sanyauke in New York.
Please visit madamenoire.com to find out the latest celebrity & entertainment news.
Follow Jazmine on twitter @JazmineDenise and Madamenoire @madamenoire