Interviewing the Interviewers: Lucinda Southern, Digiday

In NDA’s Interviewing the Interviewers series, we catch 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.

Lucinda Southern is Senior Writer at Digiday, covering the impact of digital on the media industry.

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

It’s great to see different examples of paid-for content models like Tortoise. Paywalls aren’t going to work for a lot of publishers that don’t have the scale. There’s been such a spate of bad-news stories over the last 18 months with publishers missing revenue targets and fire sales. No one wants to see more journalists out of a job.

What was your biggest personal industry highlight of 2018?

Being commended by the AOP for digital journalist of the year was definitely up there. As an industry, it’s encouraging to see more talk and action around the gender pay gap, even if there is a lot further to go. 

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

Alan Rusbridger, former Guardian editor-in-chief, was really smart and insightful.

The Guardian, and him as a figure, have been under a lot of scrutiny. But he helped lay the foundations for the membership model — which seems to be doing great — and getting readers more involved in the company while presiding over some really gritty editorial investigations. 

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

It sounds a bit out there, but Wolfgang Blau, president, international and chief operating officer at Condé Nast International speaks really well about how the European Union should invest further in machine learning for language translation.

From a tech perspective, language fragmentation means Europe is getting squeezed by the U.S. and China. Near-instant and easier communication would have ripple effects across collaboration, copyright and privacy. 

What was your favourite ad or digital experience of 2018?

The Burger King ads that triggered Amazon Alexa devices were clever. Audio is being used in smarter ways with other formats like outdoor, there will be more novel examples.  

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

I think people can be more specific about what they mean when they say ‘optimise.’ But honestly, there are quite a few words that have lost their meaning!

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

Joanna Coles, former chief content officer at Hearst Magazines. 

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

It’s always refreshing when people aren’t afraid to speak candidly about what’s wrong in the industry or where they’ve made mistakes.

Taking a risk or speaking truthfully about issues that companies or individuals would rather avoid is tough, but I don’t think companies realise how easily readers can see through the spin and the self-aggrandising.

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