Today’s #MediaMonday profile comes to us from Madison “Maddie” Rutherford, an editor at Times Media Group here in the Valley. Rutherford currently serves as editor of both The College Times, a weekly publication focused on the 18 to 34-year-old demographic widely distributed at ASU, all of the local community colleges and throughout bars, restaurants and other attractions in the Valley, and The College Beat, a website similarly focused on the Millennial generation, but skewed more toward those about to graduate or in the early stages of their career and post-college lives.
Through the magazine and site, Rutherford reports on all things student life and pop culture, nightlife and shopping as one might guess, but there is also a heavy focus on money, success and business topics that impact the Valley and even the nation.
We sat down with her (virtually) to learn a little bit more about how her background, story needs and even her work for…wait for it…Huffington Post.
Where did you grow up?
My dad was in the military when I was growing up, so we moved around a lot. I’ve called various places in Southern and Central California home and also spent a few years in Maryland, but I was born in Phoenix!
When did you start at your current media outlet? What’s the back story?
A year and a half ago, I responded to an ad on an online job board. I was 23, had recently moved to Phoenix and was freelancing and working as a tutor, but I was looking for a full-time journalism job. I remember thinking, “This job sounds like it was made for me,” but of course there’s also that voice in the back of your head when you’re first starting out: “What if it’s too good to be true?” or “What if I’m not qualified enough for this position?” But I sent in my resume and got an interview. I was immediately sold on the culture and environment of the newsroom and the more I learned about the position, the more it seemed meant to be. I remember calling my mom after the interview being like, “I think it went well but I’m not sure” and she was like, “If this job is meant to be yours, you already have it.” In retrospect, it felt like this job belonged to me before I even set foot in the office. I got hired a few days later.
Since then, I’ve been able to grow immensely and mold my job into something that feels even more “me” and seamlessly aligns with my passions and goals. I get to write about music, art, pop culture and entrepreneurship, which have always fascinated me, but I also get to challenge myself and learn new things daily. Ultimately, I feel like I’m operating within my purpose, but constantly learning and surprising myself along the way!
Favorite part about Times Media Group:
Everyone on our staff is super passionate, friendly and fun, so we have quite a few inside jokes and interesting conversations constantly floating around the office. It’s rare to find a laidback environment in an otherwise hectic, deadline-driven industry, so I’m very grateful for that. I’m constantly being entertained and inspired by everyone I work with.
I also appreciate the fact that no two days are the same. I’m not always sitting at a desk and staring at a computer. I get to explore all around Arizona, attend unique events and meet interesting people. I frequently conduct interviews at coffee shops and restaurants around the Valley, so not only do I get to meet cool people, but I get to experience cool places while I’m doing it.
Prior jobs/positions in media:
I cut my teeth as an editor and reporter for my university’s newspaper, the Golden Gate Xpress. While in school, I also had several internships and did some freelancing. Some of my earliest reporting gigs were at fashion shows, concerts and music festivals, which is when I truly fell in love with arts, culture and music reporting. You can find my byline in/on College Magazine, SFBay, SF Weekly, Inspirare and The Huffington Post.
I have a B.A. in print/online journalism from San Francisco State University.
Did you always know you wanted to be in writing?
I’ve always been very diligent about documenting everything through writing; I’ve been keeping journals since I was in middle school. When I was super young, before I could even write sentences, I would scribble these illegible “stories” on paper and dictate the translations to my mom. I think I wrote my first “book” when I was three. I’ve always considered myself a writer in some capacity. Throughout school, I always struggled in math and science, but excelled in my English classes. When I went to college, I realized how much I loved talking to people and hearing their stories, so I decided to pursue a path in journalism. Writing has always been my hobby and my outlet and I’m very grateful that I’ve been able to turn it into my career!
Favorite type of music:
Psych rock, smooth jazz and SoundCloud rap
Burgundy and bright yellow
Favorite local haunts:
Postino, Cornish Pasty Co., Crescent Ballroom, Lux, Roosevelt Row, Papago Park and the Phoenix Art Museum
Favorite places to visit:
I love road trips and try to take them as often as I can. My favorite places to visit outside of Arizona are San Diego, Venice Beach and the Bay Area. My favorite places to visit in Arizona are Sedona, Flagstaff, Payson and Bisbee.
Mac and cheese
Least favorite food:
Three things readers would be surprised to know about you?
Best way to pitch you:
With a detailed, well-written email, please! Know which outlet you are pitching, and be sure to read a few issues so you can target your idea.
Types of stories and pitches you are looking for:
Features about cool/interesting people, places and events in Phoenix that would appeal to a college-aged demographic