Spotlight on JJ Anisiøbi, Deputy Digital Content Director at OK! online
By Phoebe-Jane Boyd
25 Aug 2020
‘In my 16 years in the industry I have gone from intern to Deputy Director, but my mates who work in sales and recruitment have been earning four times my salary for a while. I became a journalist because I wanted to write about my interests – now I want to use my position to help more people like me get into this industry,’ says JJ Anisiøbi, who has recently taken on the Deputy Digital Content Director role at OK! online.
Read on for JJ’s long-route into journalism, why it’s
really worth it if you’re passionate about what you’re doing and the need to
keep shaking up the makeup of newsrooms.
Congratulations on the new role! What are you most
looking forward to getting stuck into?
most looking forward to growing our team and our audience with our exclusive
content and specialist writers. We have a great core team of passionate writers
and journalists who love giving our readers what they want – celebrity
news first and insider information.
you love most about working at OK! online?
thing I love most is the diversity of my team. Having worked at a number of
other nationals I’ve seen the lack of diversity first-hand in many newsrooms,
but OK! online is different. And on top of that, the whole team feels more like
a family than a bunch of co-workers. I also love the opportunities and
experiences I have because of OK! online. I’ve been on amazing press
trips, I’ve had dinners with my childhood idols and rubbed shoulders with stars
at the Oscar, BAFTA and BRIT Award parties.
you to choose a career in journalism?
I had always wanted to be a journalist, but
it was a difficult career to get into. I definitely was not one of those
people who could afford to do endless work experience schemes and not get
paid, so I would work as much as possible to get cash and then do work
experience every so often for a couple weeks at a time. I started in music
journalism and then moved into fashion and did styling for a while until I got
my NCTJ and then trained properly. After doing local news I got into showbiz
and stayed mainly in that field, with the odd bit of lifestyle, too.
had experience consulting for PR companies – what piece of advice do you wish
all PRs would take on for dealing with the media?
you’re pitching to. There’s no point sending our showbiz journos press
releases about ‘influencers’ when we don’t write about influencers. Know your
publications and know when you’re flogging a dead horse.
your work changed since the COVID-19 outbreak?
Since the outbreak we have been working
remotely and, to be honest, I prefer it. Working from home means I can spend
more time with my family and, of course, not have to commute. All our meetings
are done via Zoom and we changed our workflow to accommodate working from home.
I feel like our communication has gotten better because we need to speak more
than ever before.
there any lessons you’ve learned from those changes that you’ll be taking
the thing I’ve learned the most is to be as clear as possible with people so
things aren’t missed or confused. I’ll certainly be making sure I’m clear when
we eventually go back to the office.
has a reputation for being overwhelmingly middle-class, white and privileged – what needs to be
done in the industry to ensure editorial teams reflect their readerships?
media is overwhelmingly middle-class,
white and privileged, but I’m not sure it’s a case of editorial teams having to
reflect their readership. I’m a 35-year-old straight Black male who has been
writing for mainly white female audiences aged 21-40 for the last 15 years –
so I’m not reflective of the audiences I write for. However, the industry,
as a whole, is overwhelmingly white and full of privileged white people –
and that needs to change. I have friends who are from working class backgrounds
and are Black or Asian and are in management roles, like Claire Rutter at Metro.co.uk and Lucy Buckland
at Mirror Online. Then I have my own line-manager, Kelby McNally, who like me
is from a working-class background and is Digital Content Director at OK!
slowly changing the makeup of the newsrooms but we need a lot more change than
we currently have. Hopefully the more Black people, the more working class
people and the more people of colour we get in management roles will help us
hire more people from those backgrounds instead of the same pool of talent
we’ve been mining from in the past. Generally, the managers hire the same
freelancers again and again and aren’t looking for diverse talent, so we’ve had
the same gatekeepers letting in the same people. This has to change.
the best piece of advice you’ve been given during your career?
advice I got was from Tom Bryant and Chris Bucktin at the Daily Mirror when
they told me as an intern to go and study for my NCTJ. When I was interning for
them it became apparent that my writing wasn’t good enough and I needed to
learn more. After doing that qualification, I improved ten times over as a
journalist. You can generally tell from someone’s writing and their
understanding of law who has or hasn’t done the NCTJ. In showbiz journalism
it’s a qualification you really need to have because there are often so many
risks of defamation.
stories OK! Online have covered this year?
covered lots of stories, but something that I’m proud of is our inclusion and
support of Black Lives Matter and Pride. I saw one journalist, Jasmine
Martin-Lord, on Instagram explaining how she’d pitched an article to a well-known
weekly magazine about women of colour not being represented in the workplace
and they rejected it with a really rubbish email reply. This was like three
weeks before George Floyd ignited the world to take notice finally. Then two
weeks after George Floyd’s death the same publication was on social media
saying they support BLM and Black women and how important it is, which to me is
just fraudulent. They don’t care about Black people and they made
that clear when they told Jasmine that her work wasn’t for them. And so
many publications are the same; virtue signalling. They care more about captions
on the ‘Gram than they do about taking action to level the playing field. So OK!
online commissioned Jasmine to write her piece for us because
we actually do care and it’s not just about saying it – we do it. That is my
favourite article ever for OK! online.
My other fave is one we commissioned Steph and Julie from Afro Leads to write about Black businesses to support on Black Pound
Day. Steph Amor and Julia
Duodu are sisters who dedicate their time to shouting out and promoting Black
culture and people as a means to provide
positive reflection and representation of Black British culture. I don’t
know how they find the time to do it all but I’m so happy we met and that
OK! online can support them.
can be a difficult industry to break into, and stay in, in 2020 – would you
recommend a career in the media to people graduating now?
I would recommend
journalism if they have a passion for it, not if they’re doing it for
recognition and a secure career. In my 16 years in the industry I have gone
from intern to Deputy Director, but my mates who work in sales and recruitment
have been earning four times my salary for a while. I became a journalist
because I wanted to write about my interests – fashion and music – and now
I want to use my position to help more people like me get into this industry.
Print journalism is on the decline and digital journalism is hard to monetise. So
graduates need to think long and hard about what they really want.