Media Interview with Matt Brown, editor of Londonist
Who reads it and how many of them are there?
We're read mostly by Londoners and those in the South East, but have a sizeable readership among people visiting London from overseas, particularly the USA. Our monthly readership is around 1.4 million page views.
What subjects do you cover? What stories are you most interested in covering?
Anything of interest to Londoners. This includes daily news, event previews, food and drink reviews, historical articles and general features about life in London.
What makes you different from the other outlets in your sector?
Interaction with our readership. Many articles are put together with reader help – via photos, ideas and tip-offs.
How do you decide the content, front covers and headlines?
We publish around 15-20 articles a day. We typically go for a daily mix of news, events and features, chosen by whatever would personally interest us. Our main story sources are reader tip-offs, press releases and personal inquiry.
Do you produce a features list? Why? Why not?
No… not relevant.
Do you work closely with PRs or do you keep them at arm's length?
Somewhere between the two. We get several hundred PR emails a day, so can't respond or even read all of them. Instead, we scan for the most relevant and reply to the PR person if we need more info. But we also have close contacts at most of London's cultural institutions, so can often bypass or preempt PR.
If you could make one change to the way PRs deal with you, what would it be?
I'd make two: 1) Get to the point immediately rather than padding out your message with chit-chat; 2) Never put your main message in a PDF or image file.
How should a PR approach you about their client?
Via a text-based email.
What information/input from PRs is most useful to you?
Anything that's relevant to our audience…i.e. The PR knows our site and only contacts us about stuff they know will be relevant.
When is the best time for PRs to contact you, and what is your deadline for contributions?
I only ever deal with PR by email, so any time is fine. We never print press material directly, we always rewrite it ourselves, but we can usually turn a story round within one hour if it's of priority interest.
What are your editorial duties/responsibilities at the outlet (e.g. commissioning, subbing, features, interviewing)?
I set the daily agenda, working out what we want to publish that day. I write some of the content and edit content coming in from other contributors. I then promote published content through our social media.
What interests you most about your job?
I love the content we produce…I love London, so it's a real privilege to have a job where I get to explore and write about some of the more unusual aspects. For instance, I've paddled through the sewers, climbed up behind Piccadilly Circus lights, and flown over the town in a balloon. All those were organised with the help of a PR person, by the way…so if anyone out there wants to send me on an odd London mission, I'm all ears!
Where have you worked previously, and how did you end up in your current position?
I was previously a science journalist, but realised my love of London was even stronger than my love of science. I have a curious mind and London is a city that rewards curiosity. I started writing for Londonist seven years ago and it felt like I'd found my calling in life. I've now been editing the site for about five years.
Do you tweet? Why, why not?
Yes, we tweet around 20 times a day @Londonist and have 91,500 followers. It's now central to our whole operation.
If you could time travel what time would you go to?
I'd stay right here. London in the early 21st Centruy is a fascinating time and place to be alive, even if few people realise it. Other than that, I'd go back to Anglo Saxon times, as so little is known about that era. Did you know that most London place names are named after Anglo-Saxon farmers? Who was Mr Kenna, who gave his name to Kennington? Or the mysterious Mr Wemba, whose name is now known by a billion people around the world as Wembley? Wouldn't you love to meet these long-forgotten people and tell them that their names would live on forever?