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    Coffee with a Journalist: Rebecca Ruiz, Mashable

    Rebecca Ruiz is a senior reporter at Mashable covering mental health, digital culture, and technology. Her specific areas of expertise include suicide prevention, screen use and mental health, parenting, youth well-being, and meditation and mindfulness.

    During the episode, Rebecca talks about the change in coverage of mental health over the last 10+ years, how direct subject lines are most effective, the various ways she keeps tabs on sources and ideas, and more. 

     Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

    Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:

    CWJ View Transcription CTA


    What She Covers

    [00:02:34] BB: Okay. Now, specifically, your beat, which is kind of a smorgasbord of things, how would you cover or describe everything you encompass? I know, of course, from your author page, mental health, digital culture, and technology. But do you want to get a little bit more specific?

    [00:02:51] RR: Sure. So I've covered mental health for a decade-plus, and I've covered it from lots of different angles and perspectives, service, features, analysis. I think my job at Mashable when I cover mental health, and I do cover some other topics, but that's my main beat is to really look at the way people are experiencing their well-being and their emotional health in the context, again, of what's happening in digital culture or online. 

    But for me, that can be very expansive. So I've written, for example, about how long COVID survivors are coping with some suicidal feelings, for example, by connecting with other people online who are experiencing the same thing. I've written sort of more utility pieces around how to deal with feeling lousy online and cognitive distortions. How we can cope with those. I've looked at people using ketamine on TikTok and showing their experiences with treating depression through that and what to know about what's really happening behind the scenes for them, versus what’s shown on TikTok. 

    It really – there's a gamut, and I'm interested in people's well-being and their mental health and how that unfolds for them in many different ways in their lives. 


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    The Types of Pitches She Looks For

    [00:10:50] BB: Okay. Then for you, Rebecca, is there a certain pitch that really works for you? If you had to boil it down to what are the three components of a pitch, what would those be?

    [00:11:01] RR: So I think a real awareness of what I cover which seems obvious but because I've been doing this for a long time, and I've worked at different outlets, and I've covered different topics. For example, I used to work at Forbes like 15 years ago. I used to do work there that was different than what I do here. There are some overlaps and similarities. I did cover some aspects of mental health back then, but some people I find will sort of see that. Maybe they don't – they may have found my work and not realized that it's 15 years old [inaudible 00:11:35] prominent. Again, I try to have some empathy there. But if I –

    [00:11:39] BB: You’re very gracious, very. 

    [00:11:40] RR: Well, I mean, I understand that most people are working hard at their jobs and trying to get it right, and so – 

    [00:11:44] BB: Yes, they’re trying. 

    [00:11:46] RR: Yes, right. But I will say that if I get a pitch that's just really not in tune with what I've been covering lately. Someone who demonstrates that they've been reading my work and knows like even if I've just covered something that I probably won't revisit for a while, at least that demonstrates to me that they're paying attention. They're really trying to target me and my publication, rather than blasting to everybody that they think might be open to it. That's actually really important to me. 

    Then I think I'm often looking for a research or an expert. So a pitch that can be really effective is offering me an expert that's in line with the things that you've seen I'm covering. I often tell people in those situations like, “I don't have any plans to cover this right now, or I just did that.” But I'm keeping this person on my radar. One thing I do is I have a running list of ideas that I may not be pursuing at the moment, and this includes things like research studies and includes experts, where I will copy and paste from a pitch or a research study and put it into a document that I go back to quite frequently. That's one way of organizing my experts and pitches along those lines. 

    Someone who pitches that kind of information, they may not end up with a story, but they might end up in that document. That's literally how I keep people on my radar. 


    Rapid Fire Pitching Preferences

    [00:17:05] BB: Okay. First off, video, phone, or in-person interview? Why or why not?

    [00:17:10] RR: Phone. 

    [00:17:12] BB: [inaudible00:17:12]. Yes, yes. 

    [00:17:13] RR: Yes. I find it difficult. I will do video meetings in certain cases, but I type at the same time that I'm recording. So it means I have to keep eye contact with the camera, even though I'm not watching the camera. I find that to be like a big thing. It's a lot of mental gymnastics. So unless it's an off-the-record or on-background conversation, we're just chatting, I really prefer phone. 

    [00:17:36] BB: Okay. I'm telling you, phone's coming back. It's having a revolution. It's amazing. 

    [00:17:40] RR: I think so. 

    [00:17:41] BB: Okay. Bullet points or paragraphs in a pitch?

    [00:17:44] RR: Bullet points. 

    [00:17:45] BB: Yes. Then images attached or Dropbox zip file?

    [00:17:50] RR: I prefer Dropbox link. It just is easier for me. I don't like to download a ton of things onto my computer, partly because then I have to organize it, which I don't like doing. 




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