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Inside the Belly of The Daily Beast with Editor-in-Chief John Avlon and Senior Editor Harry Siegel

By Allison Raymond and Dan Denning

On Wednesday, April 5th, Profressor Joy-Ann Reid’s Race, Gender, and the Media class took a field trip to visit The Daily Beast, a political and pop culture digital news source.

From 11 floors up, we had a fantastic view of the west side of Manhattan as we waited for our hosts: John Avlon, Editor-in-Chief of The Daily Beast, and Harry Siegel, senior editor at The Daily Beast and columnist at the New York Daily News. We talked about a lot of different topics: from diversity, to the controversial Pepsi ad, to their career paths. The best thing about this field trip was that it was completely unstructured, so we could ask them anything and really just have a conversation about it.

We discussed challenges facing the digital news landscape today, and discovered that The Daily Beast has a few rules when it comes to publishing. “We only write headlines that we would want to read,” Avlon explained. “It’s our job to make real news stories colorful and interesting, without using clickbait titles.” The goal of the site is to be like an interesting friend at a bar: you enjoy talking to them, and you learn something too.

We asked about how they’ve seen diversity in the newsroom change and evolve over their careers. Siegel commented, “Our job is never done. Our writing staff can always be more diverse. It’s a matter of taking the extra effort to go out and find a writer who is doing great things and also has a new viewpoint that our team lacks.” Avlon said he often refers to The Daily Beast as “non-partisan (but not neutral)” because they do not have a political leaning or affiliation with a political party, but their writing staff includes people from all kinds of backgrounds with different political leanings. “Diversity is always at the top of our mind when hiring,” Avlon said. “It’s essential to reflect the culture that we are trying to represent.”

Thanks to John Avlon and Harry Siegel for taking the time to talk about diversity in the newsroom and news in the digital space!

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