SEEN’s new editor has interviewed people from Sally Ride to Will Ferrell. She shares highlights from her career and her favorite spots in Detroit.
By Rachel Schostak
Stephanie Steinberg grew up in Farmington Hills and now lives in downtown Detroit. She joined Neighborhood SEEN as its managing editor in January 2018. Previously, she was a features reporter at The Detroit News and a health and money editor at U.S. News & World Report in Washington D.C.
1. Tell us a little bit about your journalism accomplishments: My work has been published in The New York Times, The Boston Globe, USA Today, CNN.com, The Huffington Post, The Oakland Press and Detroit Jewish News. While I lived in Washington D.C., I was an editor at U.S. News & World Report and online lifestyle editor for WTOP radio. I edited the book “In the Name of Editorial Freedom: 125 Years at the Michigan Daily,” which was published by the University of Michigan Press in 2015. I also led the production of “Michigan Football: A History of the Nation’s Winningest College Program” published by Triumph Books in 2012. Needless to say, I’m a proud alum of the University of Michigan, where I majored in communication studies and minored in medical anthropology. My career really started at U of M when I reported for The Michigan Daily and was elected editor-in-chief in 2011.
2. Did you always know you wanted to go into journalism? When did you first realize it? Yes, I was actually one of those kids who knew they wanted to be a journalist since second grade. Back then, I was on a local TV show called “Kid Stuff” on a network that no longer exists. The show had local kids act as cub reporters around Metro Detroit. I got to interview zookeepers at the Detroit Zoo, report segments at the Franklin Cider Mill and cover holiday parades. I fell in love with telling stories and knew then that I wanted to be a journalist. Although, I haven’t done on-air reporting since!
3. Any career highlights that really stand out in your mind? While working in Washington D.C., I freelanced a few pieces for The New York Times business section. One feature on the ride-sharing company Car2Go landed on the business section front. I was 23 at the time, and seeing my byline on that page was definitely a career high point. However, the best job of all was being editor-in-chief of The Michigan Daily at the University of Michigan. It was the most rewarding, but also the hardest, job. (Just picture managing 125 college students working until 3 a.m. to publish the paper each day.) That experience influenced me to edit the book “In the Name of Editorial Freedom: 125 Years at the Michigan Daily,” which is a collection of stories by notable Daily alumni like Tom Hayden who wrote the foreword and led to a 15-city book tour nationwide.
4. The media world has changed so much since you were even studying in college. How do we keep up with the changing landscape? What advice do you have for young writers? It’s not easy to keep up with the landscape when it’s changing practically every day. I find it helpful to be a part of journalism organization like the Online News Association, which hosts an annual conference to keep journalists informed of the latest media technologies and platforms and has chapters across the country. It’s also helpful keeping in touch with journalist friends across the country to find out what they’re trying in their newsrooms, and what succeeds and what fails. Even what seems like the biggest “new thing” at the moment (anyone remember Periscope?) may only last a few months. So my advice to young journalists is to be open to trying these new digital platforms to tell your story, but first, make sure you’re a strong writer and reporter. Because when that hot “new thing” fades from cyberspace, your written story is still the story that matters and reaches readers.
5. Favorite interviews to date? Oh, this is hard! I’m most grateful for having a sit-down interview with astronaut Sally Ride when I was interning at USA Today. That was a few years before she passed away.
The craziest was when I interviewed Will Ferrell and Zach Galifianakis on a duck boat ride in Boston when they were promoting “The Campaign.” (Picture the three of us on the back of a duck boat, and they’re making fun of clueless people on street corners in between answering questions. Totally crazy, but they were very nice in person.)
I really enjoy interviewing fellow journalists. I profiled U of M alum and CNN medical correspondent Sanjay Gupta as well as former New York Times executive editor Jill Abramson in college. They both had a zillion other things they could have been doing, but they made time to talk to a young journalist. Because of that experience, I try to pay-it-forward and do the same when younger journalists reach out to me.
6. What are you most excited about joining the SEEN team? I’m really passionate about reporting lifestyle stories in Metro Detroit, and I’m excited that I will have the opportunity to continue doing that, but also work with local journalists to develop their stories. I’m also interested in using SEEN’s new Layar app to offer print readers more content when they scan a page. I think the technology is an innovative way to incorporate videos, additional interviews, and links to shop the looks on the page. No other publication is doing this in Metro Detroit at the moment, and I’m thrilled that SEEN is at the forefront.
7. Where do you get your daily news fix? I subscribe to a ton of email newsletters, so I get breaking news and the top headlines of the day. A few include The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN, Detroit Free Press and Detroit News. I also like how the email newsletter The Skimm breaks down complicated topics into information readers can easily digest. Their subject lines are also catchy and entice you to open the email.
8. Who inspires you in the business world / your industry? I highly respect women journalists who are managers leading departments (my former editor Felecia Henderson at The Detroit News and Angela Haupt at U.S. News & World Report, for example) as well as women reporters who bust their butts everyday to get their kids to school while still breaking news, writing several stories throughout the day and getting home in time to make dinner, get their kids to bed and then keep working on stories. And then they do it all again the next day. I’ve worked with so many women journalists in that position, and their passion for journalism motivates me during the stressful days. I’d be remiss not to mention the dozens of Michigan Daily alumni who’ve mentored me over the years, shared career advice and either contributed to or supported my book.
9. Best career advice you’ve ever received? Ask your editors and fellow reporters for lunch or coffee during internships. The relationships you foster early on can transform our career. In this industry, it sometimes does come down to the people you know who can help you get a foot in a newsroom.
10. When not working…where can we find you? I love exploring coffee shops, stores and restaurants that I haven’t been to yet in Detroit.
11. You’re never fully dressed without…Nail polish! I’ll never go out in public without it!
13. Favorite book and what are you currently reading? To be honest, I’ve paused on the books and am reading wedding magazines right now to prep for my spring wedding. But I love all books by Mitch Albom, “Pride & Prejudice” and “Gone with the Wind.”
14. You never leave home without… My cellphone, a notebook and purple pen — you never know when you’ll run into a story!
Now onto some local love:
15. Favorite place to hang out in metro Detroit or Detroit proper? In the summer, you can probably find me at any ice cream store. (Ever since working at Dairy Queen in high school, I’ve become an ice cream addict.) I also enjoy Eastern Market and walking along the Detroit riverfront when the weather is nice.
16. Other go-to spots in your neighborhood or around the metro area? On the weekends, I enjoy getting my nails done at The Ten Nail Bar in Capital Park or doing yoga at Citizen Yoga. I also like wandering in City Bird in Midtown for cards and gifts. And I like popping into Source Booksellers around the corner. It’s a quaint independent bookshop, and the owner is the nicest woman you’ll meet. The Royce Detroit is also a great wine bar for a glass of wine, and Bon Bon Bon is my favorite chocolate shop of all time.
17. In regards to fashion, do you prefer shopping online or in-store, and where? I do prefer supporting local stores over national retailers. I’m a big fan of Bird Bee in Capital Park. I also love the accessories from The Peacock Room in Midtown and apparel from Yama (same owner) that recently opened in the Fisher Building.
18. Favorite local restaurant? There are too many good ones to choose! My fiancé Jake and I often frequent Savannah Blue downtown. It has the best Southern food and cocktails. It’s also fun to watch the People Mover whiz by the window.
19. How do you take your coffee and where do you love it from? I love all the downtown coffee shops that are walking distance from my apartment. My favorites include Ashe Supply Co. and Dessert Oasis. I usually order a vanilla latte. Although, I recently fell in love with the marshmallow latte from New Order.
20. Favorite quote or words to live by? Michael Rosenberg, a writer for Sports Illustrated and a former Michigan Daily editor-in-chief, wrote an essay in the book I edited, “In the Name of Editorial Freedom.” A passage he wrote in the chapter struck a chord with me: “If you love what you do, it won’t feel like work, and you will never feel overworked. It helps if you love the people who do it alongside you.”