Lori Berger

Entertainment and Special Projects Director at Hearst Magazines

Degree(s): BJ '76

Whereabouts: United States, California, Los Angeles

What do you do?
I am the entertainment and special projects director for Hearst Magazines. As entertainment director, I put together celebrity covers for some of the Hearst magazines, which means projecting which celebrities will be hot – or not – since we work a good six months ahead of time. I also work on the concept for how we will shoot the cover and hire the hair, makeup, stylist and photo team that will help produce the cover. Oftentimes, I will do the cover story with the specific celebrity, but other times, I will assign another writer to do the cover story then oversee the editing process of the story. Additionally, I oversee the video crews we hire for B-roll on the shoots and put together entertainment packages for the inside of the magazines, i.e. hot new films, shorter celebrity profiles, new music, etc. As special projects director, I work more in a corporate capacity, working on special events for the company and bringing in celebrity talent to chair an event or participate in a company-wide charitable effort.

How did you get your job?
I have been doing some version of this work for the majority of my career for a variety of magazines including Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Marie Claire, CosmoGirl, Jump, ElleGirl, OK Magazine and more. I started my career as a fashion editor at Fairchild publications, W and WWD, which put me in the fortunate position of understanding fashion and the elements of putting together a fashion shoot. That led me to the crazy world of celebrities, and because I was also a writer, I was able to produce and oversee celebrity fashion and cover shoots as well as write the story and hire the best photo and styling teams. I have been at Hearst twice now over the course of my career, and the second time around, I actually pitched them on a broader definition of my role which they allowed me to do.

What is the best professional lesson you learned at the J-School?
Hard work and perseverance in the face of seemingly impossible circumstances goes a long way.

What advice do you have for current students?
Don’t believe it when they tell you print journalism is over! There will always be magazines, certainly not as many as there once were, but nothing will ever replace the experience of cuddling up in bed or on your sofa and leafing through and reading your favorite fashion, news, business or beauty magazine. And the more versatile you are as a journalist, the farther you will go. Don’t ever think you’re above fetching a cup of coffee for your boss. Something I see too much of these days is relatively-new and young journalists with an awful sense of entitlement. Whether it’s working late, wanting a promotion to a senior editor position with only three years of experience or simply being asked to do some additional work outside of one’s overall job description, there is oftentimes too much moaning and groaning. Everything should be considered an opportunity. When you are coming up in the magazine world – and just because you are likely overworked and underpaid – doesn’t mean there should be boundaries as to what you will and will not do. We were all there once.

What is your favorite J-School memory?
Working on the Missourian and being trained on the very first VDT’s (Video Display Terminals), the precursor to computers. I remember how foreign it seemed to me and how long it took me to get used to and understand the technology. I remember covering Jefferson City as my very first beat, and having the opportunity to ask Jerry Brown, who was visiting the capitol, a question. For me, at the time, it was like interviewing a celebrity, which is maybe why I landed where I did.

Any additional comments?
What was so great about attending the Journalism School at University of Missouri is that when I graduated and decided to move to Los Angeles, I actually came armed with some clips and reporting experience. I wasn’t just another college graduate looking for a job as a writer/reporter with absolutely no experience. Which is not to say I didn’t start out at a low level and didn’t have to pay my dues, because I did. But I was fortunate to be in jobs that allowed me to do a lot of different things, including, writing, reporting, design, photo shoots, etc. And that opened a lot of doors for me throughout my career.

Updated: January 21, 2015