Monday, January 4, 2010

Ask A Reporter: Gina Roberts-Grey

Gina Roberts-Grey knows a good story when she sees one. She's contributed health, lifestyle, parenting and nutrition articles as well as celebrity profiles to over 200 magazines. These publications include GLAMOUR, ESSENCE, WOMAN'S DAY, SELF, and PREGNANCY, but that's only the tip of the iceberg.

Her work has been widely translated and Gina currently serves as co-chair for the American Society of Authors and Journalists' (ASJA) 39th annual writer's conference to be held in Spring 2010.

Gina took a few minutes to share her thoughts on fame, media exposure, and what makes a profile compelling:

When profiling a celebrity or celebrity expert, what are some of the attributes that make the individual fascinating and compelling (other than fame itself)?

There are a number of factors, that are usually based on what the outlet (I'm writing for) wants or needs. In many cases, it's not necessarily "new" news. It may be a life-long cause, a medical condition, etc. In other cases it's what projects they're working on, or have lined up. In the latter, interest is usually tied to doing something new.

Celebrities live very public lives yet it's impossible for the public to know everything about them. Have you found that the famous people you've profiled were fully aware of their own public perception?

GRG: Yes, in fact, the celebrities I've interviewed take that very seriously. They're advocates for health issues, the environment, etc. and they're using their voice to get very important messages out to as many as possible.

Does the current state and abilities of media (and social media) make it easier or harder to rectify a negative image? Does it make it easier or harder to cultivate and maintain a positive image?

GRG: I think it depends on the audience. If the target "image shaping" audience is using social media, I think it may be easier. But I don't think social media is the "end all be all". A lot of fans and those curious about celebs get their information and shape their opinions based on the print and TV media.

How has the public's fascination with famous people changed over the years? Is public demand becoming more voracious?

I think the public looks to celebrities for hints of "normalcy". They want to relate to the people the see on TV, read about, etc. And are fascinated with celebs to learn if a celeb is getting divorced, having a baby or has a rowdy teen, just like "everyone else".

What are some things from the subject's team you find frustrating or counterproductive when trying to complete a story (such as unresponsive, details that are difficult to fact check, and so on)?

GRG: The red tape to schedule an interview. I've found that once you can get access to a person, they're very graceful, charming and forthright with information. However, it can be tricky to navigate the handlers, agents, etc. surrounding the person. But, I've yet to encounter a celebrity who wasn't terrific to speak with.

Visit Gina Roberts-Grey online at