Interviewing the Interviewers: Doug Zanger, Adweek

One of the privileges and joys of journalism is meeting and interviewing truly inspirational people.  The new digital age has meant this privilege has now opened up beyond professional journalists, with some of the most thought-provoking interviews now conducted by numerous industry thought leaders in addition to our most respected journalists.

In NDA’s Interviewing the Interviewers series, we caught up with some of the best interviewers in our industry, from journalists to independent content creators, turning the tables to find out what makes them tick.

The ebullient Doug Zanger, a lifelong devotee to the creative industries, is senior editor at Adweek. He was previously Americas Editor at The Drum and prior to this was at at Advertising Week leading year-round content and special partner projects. 

What is your biggest hope and your biggest fear for the media industry in 2019?

I hope that more in-depth stories have an upward swing and get the attention they deserve. There are so many great stories out there from my colleagues in the media and looking beyond headlines is what will help the industry learn how to improve.

I fear that is wishful thinking as we’re in a “scan it” world at the moment, but I am ever the optimist. I also believe all of my colleagues in the media should be compensated well. It’s not an easy job and we’re all providing an invaluable service to the industry.

What was your biggest personal industry highlight of 2018?

I think it’s a combination of looking back and looking forward. Looking back, I am immensely proud of the foundation we built in the US for The Drum. Looking forward, I am excited to see how we can continue to evolve our industry coverage at Adweek, especially around diversity, inclusion and equality. Cannes is always a kick, too. But we all knew that.

Who was the most inspirational person you interviewed in 2018 and why?

Marc Pritchard, P&G’s CMO. I have long respected him, but after hearing his personal story on stage at Adcolor and chatting with him that same day, I now truly admire him. In my career, however, it’s hard to think that my inadvertent interview with Oprah Winfrey will be topped … but I’ll certainly try. 

What one technology are you most excited about this year and why?

The phone … used to actually call and talk to people. We need more of that.

What was your favourite ad or media experience of 2018?

There was a Shiseido ad from Japan in October that blew me away. It was an unexpected love story and the craft of the film was off-the-charts. I was mesmerized by it and think it was a standout. Also, Nike’s Colin Kaepernick work was a reminder of the power of a good idea.  

What is the buzzword or phrase you’d like to ban forever?

Oof. Most of them. I get it, they are convenient and part of the language, but I see way too many press releases that feel like corporate word jumbles. They’re all pretty much like word problems in math, you have to eliminate the unnecessary stuff to get to the root of the thing. And anything adtech. I’ll let my friend Ronan handle those.

Who’s the one industry figure you’d most like to interview you yet haven’t?

The young and new people who are going to blow me away in the next few years. Though I respect the industry’s current leaders a great deal, I’m more interested in who is going to be next.

How could someone persuade you to interview them and what would put you off completely?

Get to know me first. But, short of that, if you are contributing something meaningful to the industry—and helping to raise the tide for everyone—then I’ll be more interested.

Nothing puts me off more than someone telling me that “this would make a great story.” I’ll be the judge of that. If it’s not serving the reader or the industry, then it’s not worth investing the time or energy.

Read more in our Interviewing the Interviewers series here.

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