Angela Tuell 0:05
Welcome to Media in Minutes. This is your host Angela Tuell. This podcast features in-depth interviews with those reports on the world around us. They share everything from their favorite stories to what happened behind the lens and give us a glimpse into their world. From our studio here at Communications Redefined, this is Media in Minutes. Today we are talking with Brittany Anas. Brittany is a freelance writer specializing in health, food, travel and adventure for outlets such as Men's Journal, Forbes, Real Simple, Apartment Therapy, Hearst publications and more. She started as a writer for The Denver Post and the Boulder Daily Camera, spending nearly 15 years covering various beats and working as an award winning investigative reporter. Hi, Brittany, thank you for joining us today.
Brittany Anas 0:57
Hi, Angela. Thanks for having me. I'm excited to talk with you.
Angela Tuell 1:00
Me too. So you started your career in local newspapers in Denver, and spent more than 10 years covering every beat from higher education to crime. Have you always wanted to be a journalist?
Brittany Anas 1:13
Yes. So my grandfather worked for the Detroit Free Press. And I when I was a kid, I just thought it was so magical that he would go into work. And then the next day, there would be this paper that was produced and delivered on your doorstep. And so I really got into newspapers when I was a kid. And I had, so this is in the 80s, right? They had candy cigarettes. And this like funny perception of what reporters were and I had a fedora and a typewriter. And I would pretend like I was a reporter. And like smoking these candy cigarettes, and my mom would be like, calling me down for dinner. And I'd be like, I'm on deadline. Yeah, my grandma would pay me. I think she was paying me like 50 cents or $1 for every story I wrote. So I was just super into the whole world of journalism and news as a nine year old.
Angela Tuell 2:18
I love that. What did your grandfather think about you wanting to go into it?
Brittany Anas 2:22
Oh, it was he was great. He actually didn't work on the journalism side. He was on the production side. And every year on my birthday, he would put like, an ad in the paper that said, Happy Birthday. me bananas. I don't know why that was my nickname. Kid. And it was just I thought it was famous. I thought newspapers were just the coolest thing. Yeah.
Angela Tuell 2:44
They're still wonderful. But it's amazing how media has changed over the years.
Brittany Anas 2:48
Oh, so much. Yeah. I mean, I feel like I'm dating myself. But when I started in newspapers, the printing press was in the actual newsroom. And so you'd file mostly when you're right out of college, they start you on the night cops beat because nobody wants that, right. And I would file a story, it would get edited and 15 minutes later, you know, I would hear it going into the printing press and being printed. And so there's some nostalgia right of newspapers used to be but yeah, it's just been such an exciting ride being in journalism.
Angela Tuell 3:25
Yeah. So what was it like in local newspapers? Because you did that for quite a while.
Brittany Anas 3:29
I did. I loved it. So I worked up in Boulder, Colorado. So that's where I went to college. And our newsroom was on the Pearl Street Mall, which, if any of your listeners have been to Pearl Street is just this magical place. There's kind of like drummers on the mall. There's all these street performers. You're just like nestled right in the foothills. It is so scenic, we'd have movies come in and use our newsroom space. And then over the years, I mean, it was such prime real estate, the building ended up getting sold and we went out further east in the county, but it was just - I couldn't believe that was my career. I got to, you know, show up to this beautiful space and tell stories in the local community. And I just I also worked at the Denver Post, starting when I was in college, which used to have a building right in the middle of downtown as well. And I learned so much in newspapers. I think that for a freelance career. Yeah, newspapers really shaped me in a way. So, our, one of my editor editors in the Boulder paper really liked to change our beats up every once in a while. Okay, so you I think that's such a great skill to bring over into freelance because it gives you the confidence to move between travel and food and beverage and then when the pandemic hit, I was covering Tech and real estate and, you know, being competent to be able to make those transitions is something that I learned from my newspaper background.
Angela Tuell 5:09
Yeah, what a great skill. I know in TV, you know, as my TV background, we had to change every day depending - Although we didn't get to go in depth or, you know, do the stories like newspaper reporters got to do, but we did have to change daily as well. And it's a great skill.
Brittany Anas 5:23
Yeah, you wouldn't know what you're covering until you show up that day.
Angela Tuell 5:26
Right. Exactly. Exactly. You know, there are so many countless stories, I'm sure. But are there any that stick out over time when you're in the local newspaper?
Brittany Anas 5:35
Yes. So when I was in well, a few things. So when I started, I started at the Denver Post, and I was still in college. So I was this great on the grounds experience. And I had a professor at CU, who ran our ethics course. And that was mandatory to graduate with your journalism degree. He had a policy that you had to, you could only have three absences. So I remember, it was one of the biggest stories that was happening at the time in Colorado. We have this huge football recruiting scandal. And I was working full time basically as a senior in college down at the Denver Post, and I in the middle of a story. And I would have to run to my car, haul it up to Boulder, which was about 45 minutes away, go to this media ethics class, and then drive all the way back down and finish my story and file on deadline. And it was so interesting to me, because I was living media ethics at the time. He was not he was not impressed, he was not going to bend that policy for me in any way. So there was that. But then when I was at the Daily Camera, we had this policy where I think at the time, we maybe had eight local reporters, and every we would rotate we'd get these chances to, to do what they call the Sunday centerpiece. So it would be the the main story on the highest Red Day. And you would get time people would fill in for you on your beats. And you would have a week or two to really do some in depth reporting on a story that you pitched and developed and that you are passionate about. And so those ended up being some of my favorite stories that I got to write. And I loved that we had this ethos in the newsroom to let people really, you know, put aside all the daily work and let them do a deep dive. And some of the stories I told there was a woman who was she talked to local schools about what it was like to be diagnosed with HIV. And not know if she was going to - this was years ago, right, so she didn't know if there were going to be enough drug combinations to keep her from teetering into an AIDS diagnosis. And I got to spend two weeks with her kind of like following her around and watching her do her activism and learn so much from her and then write this personality piece about her, profile about her. And so experiences like that. That's what you you know, get to tell these stories. And I always think one of my friends said that she liked to be a mirror for people. And I thought that that was such a great way to put it because that's exactly what we were doing is you know, in depth stories and being a mirror for somebody's story, giving them kind of a voice. So I love to doing these in-depth profiles. But I also that's how I started doing some investigative work. So I get a tip and then be able to pursue it and have the time to really dig deep and do the open records requests. And just I'm so grateful for the support that we had in the newsroom at the time. Yeah, to do those rights.
Angela Tuell 9:10
So after spending so much time internally at newspapers, how did you end up in the freelance world doing more, you know, this feature type writing rather than hard news?
Brittany Anas 9:20
Yes. Um, so...I so I started doing investigative reporting, and then I kind of got recruited into this role where I was doing background investigations for a government contractor for people that were getting security clearances.
Angela Tuell 9:35
Okay. Which goes along with investigative, right?
Brittany Anas 9:39
It was. This is all the time so I was at newspapers. I was bartending at night because and I think I probably made more money bartending. And I kind of knew that I wasn't gonna be able to do that forever. And there were it was a really rocky time for newspapers. There were layoffs coming down quite frequently and you know, I was in these meetings about how do we, how do we continue to make money because we had gone for so long without putting paywalls up that people didn't see news as something that you would pay for. And so we were just trying to figure it out. And I was starting to get, you know, like, I felt really privileged that I had a pretty good 15 year run in newspapers. And
Angela Tuell 10:26
Yeah, that's great.
Brittany Anas 10:27
Yes, I took this job, doing background investigations. And I hated it. The best way that I could describe it is I was homesick for journalism. It wasn't a fit for me, it was, you know, I came from this newspaper background where you could come in with an idea and that afternoon be pursuing that idea. And all of a sudden, I was working with this, like 200 Page handbook that dictated everything, and, and there was so much red tape, and it was the kind of red tape that I was writing about being ridiculous when I wrote for newspapers. And so I still felt like, I needed to have this creative outlet. So I was doing a little bit of freelancing. So I was writing for a local magazine called Denver Life magazine. And then I was also writing a little bit for Men's Journal. And it got to the point where I was like, you know, I, I think I could make this work full time. So I quit the investigations job and was, started writing for magazines and digital, and then it just is such a freelancers market in the last several years that I just found myself, I thought maybe I was going to do it until I figured out what my next career move was. But that was six years ago, and I never gotten through my to do list completely, right? So it's been such a fun transition. There's a lot that's - at the base there's, you're telling stories, and like I said, you're being that mirror for people's stories, or you're exploring the place and asking questions. And I think you can apply a lot of that those skills you get from a newsroom, or from just being a curious person to writing for magazines and digital. Editors said, why are your paragraphs so short? And why do your stories just end? Without any kickers? And I was like, Oh, that's a big difference between newspapers and magazines.
Angela Tuell 12:28
Exactly. You know, and now as before, I guess you're right about a wide variety of topics. What are some of your favorite to focus on?
Brittany Anas 12:36
Oh, yes. Um, so I love travel. I think travel is the most fun. I also really am into writing about beverages, and specifically tequila. That's kind of my niche beat. I have a little bit of a reputation, I think, with my editors of liking the kind of quirky, fun, lighthearted stories. So I'm kind of a kid at heart. I turned 40 this week, but I think that's...
Angela Tuell 13:07
Hey, we can still be.
Brittany Anas 13:10
I have spent like most of my birthdays at a water park. And so like, all these fun stories that are, you know, ranking, the best rides that our local waterpark or stuff like that. And I think that my editors are really fun with that, and will give me some of the kind of quirky assignments every once in a while. So I love that. I also, during the pandemic, I did start writing about real estate a lot, because that was just so on fire. And I think there's so many interesting stories to be told in that space ascent, especially for you know, Gen Z and millennials because the landscape of real estate's really, really hard to navigate right now. And so I really enjoy doing those kinds of service pieces. I recently did a story about some women in Austin, who were friends and they went went in on buying a house together, because you just have to get super creative. And I'll find stories on Tik Tok every once in a while and reach out over Tik Tok to see if I can interview people. So there was this couple that bought their, the husband's childhood home and are turning it into a wedding venue. So I just think, yeah, there's all these fun stories that are being told on social media that I love to dive a little deeper into.
Angela Tuell 14:37
That's what I was going to ask next actually was how you get your stories and how you decide what to cover. So is a lot of it through social?
Brittany Anas 14:45
Yeah, so I love through social I think that when we have these conversations about work life balance, it's so interesting to me, because I feel like my brain is never turning off. When I'm out with my friends or my family.
Angela Tuell 14:57
I feel you.
Brittany Anas 14:59
I'm always thinking in terms of story ideas, and so, and I, people who I've traveled with before, I'm always like, what, when they'll tell me a story, I'll be like, you have to write that as an essay. You know, like, I want to read that story. So, yeah, social, I think just, I get some really great pitches from publicists that I love to pursue, and just kind of, I love hearing people's stories. I'm just a really curious person. So when I'm on a travel assignment, I love to do interviews and kind of meet locals and kind of develop stories that way.
Angela Tuell 15:41
How can public relations professionals - speaking of them - help you do your job? And do you have any pet peeves?
Brittany Anas 15:49
Sure. Um, so I, my pet peeve is my inbox right now and I'm bad at not managing it because one of the problems that, and I don't, I don't know what the solution is, to this. I've thought about, you know, reaching out to a business coach or something, because during the pandemic, I started writing and across so many verticals, that right now, I'll get on I call it like, email rush hour. So Tuesdays and Wednesdays, sometimes I'll get 1000 emails.
Angela Tuell 16:19
Wow. Certain times of the day, or is it like always?
Brittany Anas 16:22
From, like, I'm on the West Coast, so about, like, 10 to two, but I email rush hour. And there are some great story ideas in there that I would love to pursue. At some time. I'm just so busy right now. And then there's somewhere you know, there's, it's just, I'm on so many lists right now, just because I've covered...
Angela Tuell 16:44
All those different beats. Yeah.
Brittany Anas 16:46
So I don't I feel bad. You know, that. There's so many great pitches in there that I wish I could respond to or pursue as stories. I wish I, there were more of me. I wish I could clone myself. But then, as far as pet peeves go, I wouldn't say it's a pet peeve with publicists. I think that one thing that's coming up a lot now, and I think that publicists and writers can use this as an opportunity for education is, I'm noticing so many SEO firms are reaching out and saying, we saw the story you wrote last year. Do your readers a favor and add a link to our study, or our...
Angela Tuell 17:28
Brittany Anas 17:29
Yes, it's becoming quite common. And I have to explain like, you know, first of all, that would be an impossible task if I'm writing three stories a day and have been doing so for five years or six years to go in and continually update stories. But also that it's just not in our, you know, readers best interest to get you a link after the fact. And so that's one thing that I think is a little bit of a pet peeve right now that I think there's probably some education that we need to be doing around that.
Angela Tuell 18:02
So I also noticed, and a few of your recent articles, like the one on Jimmie Johnson for Men's Journal, is produced in partnership. So tell us more what that means when readers see that disclaimer?
Brittany Anas 18:13
Yes. So what that means is that there is a partner, a brand partnership, so it's sponsored content. And what that means is a sponsor has come in, and they've decided to do several stories with the publication. So I've done some of this work with Thrillist, with Apartment Therapy, with Men's Journal. And it's not anything that writers necessarily, especially freelance writers, have any say in. It gets assigned to you. And the reason writers love these assignments so much is they end up paying so much more than what a typical editorial story would pay because it has that brand sponsorship. So as an example, as an example, I wrote a story for Apartment Therapy at the beginning of the year, and filed it and then Target came in and wanted to sponsor a bunch of articles. My story had already been written, edited, was ready to go. But my editor said, Hey, Target is going to sponsor some of these articles. And now all of a sudden your rate is almost double. So it's nice that they pass along that extra income or extra revenue to writers. And then so some of the sponsored content too, you'll interview a source and explain how they're, I recently interviewed one of the trainers from The Biggest Loser who experiences migraine, and he's been working with a company that helps him manage those migraines. And so I interviewed him and wrote a story in partnership with that company. So what's the big takeaway between those and typical editorial stories is the client does get to review the article.
Right. Right. So that's where the disclaimer helps. Helps readers to know, too. So what are some stories that you're currently working on?
Yes. Um, so I have a, some travel stories that I've done recently, I once were that I really excited about as I went to Montreal, which is the Cirque du Soleil capital of the world, and I interviewed one of the Cirque artists, and I actually took circus training.
Angela Tuell 20:42
That was cool. Really?
Brittany Anas 20:45
So I got to loop and juggle and get on the aerial silks. And so I think there's this really fun story, I'm kind of forming it right now about how to where to run off and join the circus, because you're coming out of a pandemic, they're saying we're going into a recession, like I just, it's time to...
Angela Tuell 21:09
We want to run away, right? So what else can we do?
Brittany Anas 21:13
That's a fun story that I'm working on. And then one project that I'm going to be filing and done with this week is about I'm writing Livability, one of my clients, puts out the best places to live every year list. So I'm doing the write ups about there's going to be 100 cities. And I get to do the write ups about these cities. But they're they're kind of fun in a way that there's elements of what's the best way to explore the city and the outdoors? Or what's a beloved bookstore? Where should you go for happy hour? And it's interesting, because I have been to a lot of cities on the list. And I'm excited about this list that's coming out because there's some good ones on there.
Angela Tuell 22:00
Yeah. So are you just given the list and then you write about each one?
Brittany Anas 22:03
Yes. So there's a bunch of components that are used to determine you know, so whether it makes the list. So economics, you know, how sound the economy is. Amenities, affordability, that kind of thing.
Angela Tuell 22:21
Okay. Oh, we can't wait to keep reading. So before we go, I have to ask you, we haven't heard from your dog yet. But you say your dog is a Boston Terrier Gremlin mix. You gotta tell us more.
Brittany Anas 22:36
Yes, he is. So I got him. Back in 2011. My dad had just passed away and I needed something to get me out of bed in the morning and make me laugh and boy did he deliver. So this is one of the stories I've always wanted to tell and have not gotten around to but the rescue that I got him from partners with truck drivers. And, because the dogs kind of keep them company as they're driving across the country. Yeah. So I met my truck driver and my dog up at this like McDonald's in Wyoming or yeah, in Cheyenne, Wyoming, and that my dog gets out and the truck driver said, This one is a naughty one. And he is so food motivated. I joke that he's like this pot bellied pig that they said was a Boston Terrier. But he has his most recent stunt was last fall. We get these really good tamales here in Colorado in the fall with and he we left some on the counter and he pawed them down and ate like nine frozen tamales.
Angela Tuell 23:51
Oh, my goodness.
Brittany Anas 23:52
He is so food motivated.
Angela Tuell 23:54
He's not very big, right?
Brittany Anas 23:55
No, no. When I came home, and it was like cold and shaking, because they were frozen. So he is just like the most food motivated dog and he's so but he's also super cuddly and super sweet. He is. It's so funny. The breed name is the American gentleman and he is anything but. But is also really photogenic. And so he looks so dapper and sweet in photos and I get to use him a lot in some of the stories I write.
Angela Tuell 24:29
Oh, that's wonderful. What's his name?
Brittany Anas 24:31
Angela Tuell 24:31
Tyson. Okay, we can see him on like your Instagram.
Brittany Anas 24:35
Angela Tuell 24:36
Wonderful. We will have links in our show notes. Where else can listeners connect with you online?
Brittany Anas 24:41
Yeah, I think Instagram is kind of the platform I'm using most. So that's Anas33 and then just email is great.
Angela Tuell 24:53
Wonderful. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Brittany Anas 24:56
Thanks, Angela. It's been really nice talking with you.
Angela Tuell 24:59
That's all for this This episode of Media in Minutes, a podcast by Communications Redefined. Please take a moment to rate, review and subscribe to our show. We'd love to hear what you think. You can find more at CommunicationsRedefined.com/podcast. I'm your host, Angela Tuell. Talk to you next time.
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