Lorne London of Post City On The Five Things You Need To Create A Successful Career As A Journalist

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Cultivate a network: Building a strong network of contacts is vital for success in journalism. Connect with fellow journalists, industry professionals, and experts to foster relationships that can open doors to opportunities, collaboration, and mentorship.

As a part of our series about “Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Journalist”, we had the pleasure of interviewing Lorne London.

Lorne London is a publisher and CEO of Post City magazines, an independently owned Toronto-based media company that publishes seven magazines distributed monthly to an affluent readership in Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area. Passionately powered by the team at Post City, London also operates Streets of Toronto, the online counterpart to the magazine that offers tech and social media features that no city site has delivered before.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

In 1989, at the age of 25, I found myself in the midst of an exciting era. The Apple Computer had just emerged, and desktop publishing was revolutionizing the industry. While thriving as a commercial and residential real estate agent in a very hot Toronto market, a close friend approached me with an intriguing proposition: to co-found a newspaper. Intrigued by the potential, I agreed, confident I could make it work alongside my real estate ventures.

As we delved into selling and creating our newspaper, it quickly became apparent that there was a massive demand for what we were offering. Seizing the opportunity, we enlisted the expertise of an old friend, a seasoned editor from another publication, who guided us through the intricate workings of the industry.

With a dedicated team and a passion for our work, we tirelessly poured our efforts into the venture. Unfazed by our lack of experience, we embraced the unknown and defied the odds. Eventually the partner and I went our separate ways. I continued to run the newspaper eventually transforming into a magazine and social media and web properties. Fast forward 35 years, and our humble newspaper has blossomed into a wonderful media company with seven thriving magazines, boasting a monthly readership of 200,000 and an impressive social media following of 750,000 across various platforms.

Beyond the written word, our brand has expanded to encompass live events, constantly fueling our collective excitement. Each day, I eagerly step into the office, relishing the thrill of turning a morning idea into a tangible reality by the afternoon, and sharing it with the world the next morning. Reflecting on my journey, I realize that there is no other occupation that could have brought me as much fulfillment. Undoubtedly, I am blessed with the greatest job in the world. And I am lucky to work with some of the most talented people you will ever meet.

It has been said that our mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

At the young age of 25, I founded my own magazines and made the decision that I did not want to work during the summers, particularly the month of July. During the first year, I spoke with my grandfather, a successful businessman and one of my mentors, about my plan to close the company for the month and take time off. He advised against this telling me that there was a reason businesses stayed open 12 months of year, but ultimately respected my decision to learn from my own mistakes.

I had a great July, enjoying the summer weather and all it had to offer.

Unfortunately, it almost sunk my new venture. It took me eight months to recoup the financial losses incurred from paying rent, staffing, phone lines, and other bills without any revenue coming in. This was a painful lesson, but a valuable one that taught me the importance of strategic planning and budgeting to ensure sustainable growth and success in business. And of course, I learned why most businesses in North America don’t close for the summer.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Beyond the seven monthly magazines that we publish with a readership over 200,000,we are actively engaged in expanding our digital brand, Streets of Toronto, which boasts an impressive following of nearly 750,000 social media followers. Our comprehensive strategy revolves around harnessing the flywheel effect, where each platform synergistically drives traffic and engagement across the entire network. As with any growth-oriented enterprise, we are continually dedicated to increasing our follower count, website visitors, and newsletter subscribers, all while delivering captivating and compelling content to our audience.

Over the past year and a half, our progress has been remarkable, experiencing exponential growth that positions us as the leading independent social media feed and news website in Toronto. Although the top spots may be occupied by corporately owned entities, we have set our sights on surpassing them. Our unwavering focus remains on establishing ourselves as the go-to source for all things Toronto, providing unparalleled insights and stories that truly capture the essence of this vibrant and diverse city. Basically, Streets of Toronto loves and celebrates T.O.

What advice would you give to your colleagues in the industry, to thrive and not “burnout”?

When it comes to addressing burnout, I have observed a recurring pattern among publishers and editors. As they approach the final stages of production, or when they are about to wrap up significant projects, emotions tend to intensify. It is amusing to reflect on the fact that during those moments, one might joke about selling their entire company for a mere dollar. However, this fleeting sentiment quickly dissipates within a couple of days, replaced by an overwhelming sense of happiness and elation. All the challenges, efforts, and energy invested in the undertaking are swiftly forgotten.

I believe it is entirely normal to experience a touch of melancholy during these periods. It is a shared experience among many individuals in similar roles. It is essential to recognize that being momentarily sad or having heightened emotions is an acceptable and even expected response. Good journalists and artists, indeed our entire team, are invested in each issue and each project. It means a lot to them, and we consider it important and fulfilling work. Ultimately, as the project reaches its conclusion and the magazine is sent off to the printer, a sense of excitement and anticipation for the outcome takes over, bringing forth a state of elation.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

One way in which I endeavor to do so, apart from my 35-year tenure as a writer documenting captivating neighborhoods, individuals, restaurants, thriving independent businesses, accomplished youth, and local stars, is through my involvement on the board of a hospital foundation. Through this role, we channel a significant portion of our charitable contributions, if not all, toward supporting the hospital’s initiatives. Over the years, we as a company have been able to procure essential equipment such as an x-ray machine, among other valuable resources. It brings me great satisfaction to contribute to something that serves individuals whom I may never meet, individuals who may never have the opportunity to express their gratitude. I believe this is the most gratifying aspect because, to me, performing good deeds should not be driven by the expectation of recognition or appreciation.

I know this is not an easy job. What drives you?

Publishing is undoubtedly a challenging profession, but in the grand scheme of things, there are far more demanding occupations. Personally, I find great satisfaction in the nature of this work. Each morning, I rise with a sense of purpose, ready to engage in fruitful collaborations and transform collective visions into tangible realities. For me, the driving force behind this endeavor lies in the realm of ideas. I am enamored with the power of ideas and derive immense pleasure from the process of creation. Whether it be crafting captivating stories, producing engaging videos for platforms like Instagram or TikTok, curating compelling content for magazines, or orchestrating live shows, I believe there is a certain honor and inherent joy in the act of bringing ideas to life and working alongside like-minded individuals who share a passion for creative expression.

I love making things and I love working with people who love making things.

According to this Gallup poll, only 36% of Americans trust the mass media. This is disheartening. As an insider, are there a few things that journalists can do to increase the levels of trust? Can you give some examples?

In response to your inquiry about the Gallup poll, I acknowledge the challenge that Americans face in placing their trust in mass media. It is important to understand the historical context behind this issue. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan’s administration played a significant role in undermining the credibility of news organizations by eliminating the rule that mandated the presentation of balanced perspectives. The removal of this rule, carried out by former Vice President Cheney, ultimately led to the emergence of polarized media outlets such as Fox News and CNN. As long as this imbalance persists, it is inevitable that trust in mass media will continue to be a concern.

Fortunately, the work we engage in is not within the realm of mass media. Our focus lies in smaller, more targeted forms of media. We strive to establish trust by presenting balanced viewpoints and delivering reliable information. While we reach a substantial audience, with approximately 200,000 monthly magazine readers and 750,000 social media followers, we maintain a commitment to integrity and fairness. It is our hope that through the proliferation of trustworthy small-scale media outlets, the American public will have access to reliable sources they can rely on.

Ok wonderful. Thank you for all of that. Here is the main question of our interview. What are your “Five Things You Need To Create A Successful Career As A Journalist” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

Be Multidimensional: To be a good journalist, embrace multidimensional storytelling by utilizing various mediums such as video, podcasts, and social media to engage with diverse audiences and bring stories to life in captivating ways.

Never stop learning: The journalism industry is constantly evolving, so cultivate a mindset of continuous learning. Stay updated with industry trends, technology, and new storytelling techniques to enhance your skills and remain relevant in the dynamic media landscape.

Creativity matters: In the world of journalism, creativity plays a crucial role in capturing readers’ attention and delivering stories in compelling ways. Think outside the box, experiment with innovative approaches, and find unique angles to present information that resonates with your audience.

Cultivate a network: Building a strong network of contacts is vital for success in journalism. Connect with fellow journalists, industry professionals, and experts to foster relationships that can open doors to opportunities, collaboration, and mentorship.

Don’t give up: Journalism can be challenging and demanding, but perseverance is key. Stay resilient in the face of setbacks, criticism, and the fast-paced nature of the industry. Remember your passion for storytelling and the impact your work can have, and let it fuel your determination to overcome obstacles and keep pursuing excellence. And on a more personal level, this profession has been watered down and will continue to be with technological advances such as AI, but there is always room for creative, insightful individuals telling stories that nobody else is. Be that person.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I don’t consider myself a catalyst for grand movements. Instead, I believe that making a difference in your own small sphere can have a significant impact. If each individual strives to improve their immediate environment, the collective transformation will extend to every corner of the world. It all begins with taking responsibility for your own space and endeavors. Aim to make it the best it can be — safe, joyful, informative, and positive. If everyone adopts this mindset within their own small domains, the overall state of affairs would undoubtedly improve. While the global picture may appear daunting, focusing on localized improvements is a practical and effective starting point.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

If given the opportunity, I believe engaging in a conversation with Mark Zuckerberg could be beneficial. I would aim to discuss the potential for promoting inclusivity and fostering a more positive environment on platforms like Facebook and Instagram. While Facebook has its own educational aspects, there is room for further education on Instagram, particularly in showcasing positive imagery for young individuals and reducing instances of body shaming. If I were to have a chance to speak with Mark, I hope he would be open to hearing my perspective.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I encourage your readers to connect with Streets of Toronto on various social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, or explore our website. I believe they will find our content highly valuable. Toronto stands as one of the most diverse cities globally, providing a remarkable opportunity to witness the coexistence of individuals from various backgrounds and nationalities. While achieving perfect harmony may be elusive, the way different people come together here should serve as an inspiring example to the world.

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Lorne London of Post City On The Five Things You Need To Create A Successful Career As A Journalist was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.