With MetalMiner Founder (and Founding Editor) Lisa Reisman taking a chance on bringing in who she thought was a “Tara” to interview for a position back in October 2010, she laid the groundwork for running a Medill shop, as they say.
As a grad student at Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism — or whatever newfangled, marketing-driven title they’re now featuring — I had often heard of leading media organizations running Medill shops, in which a number of Medill alums make up the ranks of the respective companies’ employment force. Often, the orgs spoken of were sexy media giants, the Bloombergs of the world, unlike the group of scrappy niche industry blogs with something very unique to offer that I was about to join.
We’ve ultimately brought on four more Medillians (as they’re called, for better or worse) into our fold over the time I’ve been with the company. Sydney Lazarus and Nick Heinzmann, the formidably talented editors of our sister site Spend Matters, both spent time on the grassy knolls of Northwestern’s Evanston campus studying journalism.
But MetalMiner’s editorial team in my time has only ever consisted of Medill grads. After me, the inimitable Jeff Yoders became MetalMiner’s daily editor, whose exploits you can get a better sense of in this post. But if you stick around our search bar long enough (we don’t have infinite scroll — yet), you’ll find MetalMiner’s archives literally overflowing with Jeff’s stalwart contributions to the publication over the several years he spent with us.
Now, with all this before him to live up to, Fouad Egbaria takes over as editor of MetalMiner this week. Though his headshot above may be small, his achievements are not; and his vision (although nascent) of what he plans for MetalMiner, and thoughts on where journalism is going, peek through in our recent chat with him.
Cue the Wikipedia Entry-Style Highlights
Fouad comes to MetalMiner from 22nd Century Media, where he covered virtually everything — from municipal meetings to crime to theater — for a group of weekly hyperlocal newspapers based in the north suburbs of Chicago. He nabbed a National Newspaper Association honorable mention award for Best Sports Story last year.
He grew up in Gurnee, Ill., spending “many summer days at Six Flags or Gurnee Mills”…as one does up there. He established a firm bond with University of Michigan athletics (a man after my own heart), especially football, when he was a youngster living in Ann Arbor while his father taught at the school. Fouad was actually born in Israel, but moved to the U.S. with his parents when he was two months old. He went to high school in Alabama, then back to study with The Leaders and Best for a degree in English, and then on to Northwestern’s Medill. (Even though Fouad is a U-M grad, he has not yet flaunted it — no #Hail hashtags in his social feeds or anything annoying like that, thank goodness.) From what I’ve gotten to know of him so far, he is a sharp, calm, even-keeled presence who will be a fitting addition to our newsroom.
Here are a few other nuggets from our email conversation.
What would you consider your best (perhaps most unconventional) skill?
I’m not sure if it’s my best or most unconventional skill, but I have the ability (curse?) to notice typos/mistakes in just about anything, including that sign in some grocery store express checkout lines (it’s “15 items or fewer”) or on restaurant menus.
When you’re not working, what would you most rather be doing?
I love to read (fiction, non-fiction, print newspapers, news apps on my phone, magazines), I run, I write about Michigan sports and work on fiction writing ideas (whenever I have time). When the weather’s nice, I like to go fishing, hiking and kayaking. Just so I’m not sounding disingenuous with respect to how active my lifestyle actually is, I also binge-watch TV shows, most recently the newest season of “Master of None.”
Which professional sport do you track/cover most closely, and why?
College football (I know it’s not a professional sport, but given the amount of money it generates, it might as well be). I contributed to the Michigan website on SBNation.com for several years, and have my own Michigan sports blog (which unfortunately hasn’t been updated since the end of the NCAA Tournament).
Where do you see journalism going in the next decade?
As long as advertising continues to decline and many readers refuse to pay for journalism, newsroom cuts will continue and already fairly skeletal news operations will become unaffordable and fold. Unfortunately, our national discourse is plagued by a lack of nuance, particularly when discussing “the media,” a term thrown around as if the media is a monolithic entity (it isn’t). Are there journalists — writers, editors and so on — who do bad work (with malicious intent or not) or make mistakes? Sure. But there are also so many talented journalists doing great, inventive work all the time across a wide variety of platforms, from the humble beat reporters all the way up to the high-profile names in news. With the digital tools now available, journalism has never been as fast, engaging and powerful as it is today, and I think that will only increase in the next decade.
Media mergers will continue, big media conglomerates will continue to eat up individual papers and more print publications will likely go under — none of these things are good, in my opinion. But as long as there is news — and there will always be news — there is a valuable place in society for journalism.
What are you most interested in learning while helming the digital pages of MetalMiner?
I’m excited to learn more about metal markets and how geopolitics, the ebb and flow of supply and demand, and the people and companies who make transactions in these markets all intersect. There’s a lot happening all over the world, politically and economically, so there’s almost always something new in these markets, sometimes by the hour or even by the minute.
I know what some of you may be thinking: is running a Medill shop — whether consciously or, in our case, not— too incestuous? We tend to think not, trusting that the quality of the work will bear out the collective decision to run one. But if the President of the United States gets to have his daughter and son-in-law working closely with him in the White House, well, why not?
Go ‘Cats, and welcome, Fouad!