In this week’s edition of Biz Talk we sit down with VITA editor Noa Nichol, to learn about her early passion for journalism, the evolution of the VITA brand, and her thoughts on the future of journalism and print media. Let’s dive in!
How and when did you decide you wanted to pursue a career in media?
I’m lucky in that I have always known I wanted to work in magazines. I remember being as young as four and five and playing “editor,” writing copy with purposeful typos so I could go back and correct the errors. I started my first magazine in early grade school; it was a weekly news rag for my neighbours; I reported on pets, gardens, renovations and the opening of the splash pad at our local park.
Tell us a little bit about VITA (formerly Vitamin Daily).
VITA is a lifestyle website and monthly print magazine, with a group of free e-newsletters that target folks who are starved for time and hungry for information. The brand (yes, it was formerly known as Vitamin Daily), was founded in Vancouver in 2004, expanding swiftly across Canada with the subsequent addition of content specific to Toronto, Calgary, Edmonton and Montreal (both English and French language). Today, we continue to be based in Vancouver with a team of journalists and editors in each city market. With elevated editorial standards, VITA has become a go-to source of information—information that’s short, savvy, tasty and all about living the good life. Maybe it's a great indie songstress, maybe it's a little-known weekend getaway, a secret art deco antique sale, an incredible new après-work joint or the amazing little atelier that opened quietly in the laneway. Whatever it is, we want our readers and followers to be the first to know.
What advice would you give to those considering a role in journalism?
Just start writing! Start pitching stories to editors. You have to be very proactive. There are many opportunities, and plenty of blogs and websites—if not print publications—looking for content. Think about starting your own blog—that’s a great entry point, too, these days.
Also, the field has changed completely in the last five to 10 years. After graduating with a master’s in journalism, I worked at big, national glossies like Flare and Wish, in newsrooms that were full of people—editors, staff writers, proofreaders, fact checkers, designers and photographers. Now, I churn out a daily website and a monthly magazine by myself, at my kitchen table—and, most days, in my Romper! I think some up-and-comers may be surprised at just how much of a solo job it has become; it’s just not a team environment anymore, and those things you see in rom-coms or read in chick lit, with editors sitting in big corner offices with interns scurrying around them, just don’t exist that often anymore.
What is the #1 piece of feedback you give to new writers?
Take matters into your own hands, in terms of coming up with story ideas. I’m always thinking about the latest trends; ask yourself, “What can I weave together here to make a feature?” and then pitch it! You never know when someone—an editor like me—is going to say yes.
Many are pessimistic about the future of print media. What are your thoughts on this?
I am really passionate about print; at VITA we publish a monthly magazine (which you can find in the Globe and Mail) along with the website. I wouldn’t (and I won’t) count print out moving forward. I believe people still enjoy picking up a magazine or a newspaper and having a cup of coffee while they read. We are all struggling with screen fatigue and print really helps us take a much-needed break from our devices.
What is your favourite type of content to write about?
Small businesses, local makers and Canadian brands—like Smash + Tess, who we’ve been covering since the beginning!
How do you see the media industry evolving in a post-pandemic world?
If anyone in media wasn’t paying attention to digital before, we sure are now! Everyone was online during lockdown, and noticing this, we worked really hard to build up VITA’s social presence during that time. I don’t see that slowing down or stopping anytime soon.
What are you most looking forward to as COVID restrictions continue to lift?
In-person media events; I have had my fill of Zoom calls!
How do you find balance as a mom and busy Editor-In-Chief?
Truth time: this balance doesn’t come easily to me. I have to work hard at it—hard at not working 100 hours a week, hard at scheduling in down time and hard at putting my computer away so I can spend time with my daughter. Two things I do insist on are my daily yoga practice and turning my phone off no later than 8 p.m. each night; these are non-negotiables that bookend each and every day for me.
What media outlets and/or journalists do you always read?
I love keeping up with my fellow Canadian publications, many of which I have worked on at some point or another. I am particularly keen to see how the newly announced merge between two iconic magazines, Fashion and Flare, shapes up!