Blog courtesy of Polly Winograd Ikonen, LCI
Mike McPhate is the founder and editor of California Sun. Before California Sun, he wrote the California Today newsletter for the New York Times. He has also held various reporting and editing jobs at the Times, Washington Post and New York Sun. Landis Communications Inc.’s work with Save the Redwoods League connected us with Mike and his publication.
1. What’s your top priority at work today?
Sharing stories that delight and inform readers in ways that they can’t get anywhere else.
2. What led to your transition from beat reporter to aggregator? Has doing that changed how you think about being a journalist?
With the rise of social media, a demand arose for people who could sift through the noise and highlight must-read stories. My foray into the newsletter business was in part a response to the market opportunity for that kind of service. It also happens to be rewarding work, so that helps. I still approach the job as a journalist. I’m essentially reporting on the reporting.
3. We see that you’ve added a podcast series and the “5 Questions” feature. What’s your long-term vision for California Sun?
I’ll continue thinking of bells and whistles to incorporate, but my main focus will always remain on making the core product as good as it can be. My long-term vision is really to just grow the newsletter and get it a place strong enough to outlive my stewardship.
4. What’s your dream assignment?
Good question. I’ve always dreamed of having the luxury to do a true-crime podcast — with no deadline and an unlimited budget. In other words, I want to be Madeleine Baran, who did the brilliant podcast “In The Dark,” which helped free a man wrongly accused of murder in Mississippi.
5. What is your PR/marketing pet peeve?
The flood of emails in my inbox on topics not even remotely connected to my area of work.
6. What’s a top industry trend that you’re following?
The ways that social media is making us all dumber.
7. Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a Navy brat who grew up living all over but mostly in Orange County, California. I live on California’s Central Coast, a place my wife and I fell in love with because of its natural beauty. My world right now is trying to keep up with my two young kids and the newsletter. Things I love: guitars, stand-up comedy, and rock climbing.
Feel free to comment below or tweet Mike @mikemcphate.