Cathy Horyn's Advice To Aspiring Journalists: Be Reporters, Not Re-Bloggers

As we’ve previously mentioned, The Times’ lead fashion critic Cathy Horyn is in San Francisco for the Academy of Art’s B.F.A. show, which kicks off tonight. Yesterday, the University honored the much-beloved (and perhaps much feared) critic at a luncheon, where we caught up with her for a little one-on-one.
So, your Times colleague, Guy Trebay, recently called San Francisco “the land that style forgot.” After hanging out here for a little bit, do you have an opinion on that?
“Well, I don’t know, but I would say that must be wrong. Guy does come out here fairly often. I don’t want to challenge his opinion of it, because it’s his opinion. But the world is so different now, and everybody has some kind of style. It feels like a stereotype of San Francisco.”
You’ve been talking to some of the Academy’s fashion journalism students while you’ve been here. How do you feel fashion journalism has changed over time and with blogging?
“It’s a lack of original content. Sooner or later, it’s like anything, people change, people look at that and say ‘This is boring.’ And some young journalist will come along and distinguish themselves with original reporting. And they will hopefully be fluent in French and very good at reporting what’s going on at the luxury goods companies and the big brands in Europe, because there’s a complete need for that kind of reporting. You can be tough and feisty and a little bit of a guerrilla reporter, for want of a better word, and I think there’s a need for that. I don’t think a lot of the blogs are distinguishing themselves by linking and just being snarky or being opinionated. Do some reporting.”
Has anything in journalism interested you of late?
“I’ve been turned on through Twitter to the blog Brain Pickings. She’s really interesting, and it’s a really diverse blog. I think she’s doing some original reporting and some evaluating of what’s out there and being very selective. I will not use the word curated. She’s just good at what she does. She’s curious and I think that’s what’s valuable. Everybody’s stepping on each other in the fashion world and just repeating each other and they’re not really bringing, for the most part, fresh content. And they can if they want to.”
What are your daily reads?
“We get WWD at home, and I think they have improved a bit in the past six months, and I’m not sure why. They’ve just gotten sharper about some things. I read the Wall Street Journal. On the weekends I look at the Financial Times. I really like their weekend coverage about fashion. Then I kind of go through a mixture of blogs through Twitter. So, if there are things on Twitter through Refinery29, Stylite, the Cut blog, Hilary Alexander, Hintmag, British Vogue, or French Vogue, I’ll read them.
Overall, what’s your advice to an aspiring journalist?
“Be original and start your own blog and do real reporting and learn French. Be a reporter. Don’t be a re-blogger.”

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