• Jo Allen

5 Minutes with the Executive Editor of Bustle

Q: I saw you also work with Bustle Hustle podcast, but I saw you also write about lifestyle books & entertainment. Can you explain your day to day at Bustle? Do you spend most of your time reading an editing or writing?

A: My day to day varies- I am mostly managing the three teams [lifestyle, books & entertainment] and working on edits for bigger reporter features that are time sensitive.

Working with claims & legal is a lot too. I’m all over the place, working with deputy editors very closely and with the news & fashion/ beauty teams when needed. I like to hone in on what I’m passionate about, I just did an interview with the actors from “On my Block” because I know that I could bring something to that story. I also work with the PR team a lot which is so Cool. I just moderated a chat at the wing, with an actor from “This is Us,” so it’s different every day. I love doing live panels. I love doing the podcast that I can talk about issues important to me and it puts me in a good spot and I just get really my own super bowl Sunday. My main focus is being a support to my team. I’m not the one who is handing out mandates, I want to be there for them, as a level of support and amp everyone up!

Q: Is there one skill or trait that you think has carried throughout your career with different types of publications, Like from Time to People, Latina & Bustle?

A: Oh, my goodness yes! The number one trait or mantra that I live by is making sure that I am dependable. If I’m asked to do something, I do it. If I had to do stuff I didn’t like- like starting with captions at Time – it eventually moved me to writing full piece. Something big or small – I do it. Also just making sure you're respectful, like with higher ups. But also respect your peers and really have a good relationship with them. Based on those relationship- I’ve gotten recommendations of jobs. OH – and always turning things in ahead of time before deadline.

Q: As an editor, do you feel that you should be careful of what you say on social media? Do you feel as if you have been careful in the past which helped get you where you are, or did you get where you are because of being so open on social? Do you think social media currently helps you in your career?

A: I really am myself on social media - I know a lot of people who being their authentic self can backfire, but I am very vocal one the issues I care about. I do think that people get roasted on social, because of their anger. I don’t express my anger on social media. I am very cognizant of the people watching me, especially the young people. I’ll text it out with my mom or group chat with my friends. But I am not wary of speaking up about the issues that are important to me. I do think that social media helps me in a way that I’m not quite aware of. Writers have reached out to me twitter, but it’s 100% things I would say anyway. Instagram, but I do love the fact that people enjoy my true self, and people relate to that. No frills & very low key. I am definitely more intentional on twitter.

Q: What are your thoughts on the recent death of Nipsey Hussle? How do you feel his passing will affect the Entertainment community?

A: Yes, I was just talking to our EIC about this. It’s pretty fascinating, watching this rapper who I'd being honored in the staple center and I do think with Nipsey- he is a flawed individual. He was in a gang; he has rubbed people the wrong way. He particularly helped the Crenshaw community and for me I know he grew and is multi-faceted. He was still so much value to a community. You can’t deny the good he’s done - but also acknowledging the flaws. I felt connected to Biggie as a child, and he had his issues, but I was still uplifted. Everyone’s opinions are valid. In terms of the media coverage, it was reported there was a scuffle at one of his vigils - but that wasn’t true YET was all over the internet. I mean even the Bloods and the Crips squashed to honor him – I think the whole picture isn’t being portrayed. But I do like the fact that we don’t have aa choice but to address and look at him in the full scope.

Q: Given the colossal changes hitting the magazine world today, what’s the best piece of advice you can offer when it comes to looking for a job? Is a future in magazines realistic? Hesitations?

A: I mean you can just look at apple’s recent presentation [planning to release a monthly payment for access to all the digital magazines already contracted] and their big push towards magazines. They’re making sure the public is being able to get the gorgeous glossy digitally. Clearly there is a lot coming for it -we’re in a place, the industry is imploding. It is a really big turning point if apple is paying attention to magazines, I think we are in the clear. There are obviously so many layoffs happening and it's sad. But I was one of to the last whose done both print and digital. Print experience was so clutch in becoming a good editor. Once it is in print, you can’t change it and there is something to be learned from that. There is so much discipline from print. But being indispensable is so smart and once you have it honed, you can move to digital. But with digital there is for sure a learning curve

Print is so multi-faceted with legal, fact checking, cutting copy, making every word count, and working with design. You can do it digitally, but you almost learn backwards. Although some may say you’re in a rough spot graduating soon, you’re doing the right thing. Keep chugging.

Q: What does it mean to be a modern-day princess? I love that statement, and how you managed to make a review of Disney on ice personal and use both Bustle’s voice and your own.

A: THANK YOU!!! I am so glad you liked it! Everyone is always telling me I am just like a princess. But I try really hard, just like with social to keep my writing real and authentic. I don’t want readers to be scrolling through and be thinking “she was definitely paid for this; how do we trust her?” So, I really try to keep everything casual, and real.

Q; What is your favorite thing to write about when it comes to lifestyle, books, and entertainment?

A: This one is a toughie because I like writing about them all! If I had to choose just one, I’d choose music. I love the history in American music, from pop to hip-hop to rock, and how everything is influenced by earlier genres and global sounds. With music, there are so many real-life stories surrounding the musicians, influences that come from so many cultures around the world, and of course, the way it affects fans is so palpable. I love addressing those nuances as a writer and a music lover.

Q: Where do you plug in your phone at night?

A: I’m not always successful with this, but I usually plug it on my bureau, across the room from my bed. This keeps me from checking it in the middle of the night, and really helps me disconnect for a restful sleep. Whenever I can, I also try to take what I call “phone breaks,” where I’ll leave my phone in another room at home, or simply put it on do not disturb so I can center myself and be present in other activities.

Q: What do you have in your bag?

A: I always have a book, a notebook and a pen in my bag. Right now, I’m reading Queen Bey, a collection of essays about Beyoncé’s career, edited by Veronica Chambers, that I’m loving so much. It’s also Bustle’s Book Club pick for April. I’m literally highlighting passages on the subway!

Q: You mentioned you always loved reading and writing-- what made you decide to go into entertainment writing rather than more literary writing?

A: I always wanted to learn and grasp as much as I could as a journalist, with storytelling and editing. I’ve learned so many lessons that now later in my career, writing a novel is on my agenda. But I love being a journalist on the pulse of news -- just planning to put my energy into both someday!

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