JOURNALIST Q&A: Leah McLaughlin

McLaughlin oversees Fitness' 15-plus pages of nutrition, food, and weight-loss editorial each month. As diet and nutrition editor, she also serves as a public face for the magazine, often appearing on TV. Last month, she picked up the 2003 Media Excellence Award at the American Dietetic Association's annual conference.

McLaughlin oversees Fitness' 15-plus pages of nutrition, food, and weight-loss editorial each month. As diet and nutrition editor, she also serves as a public face for the magazine, often appearing on TV. Last month, she picked up the 2003 Media Excellence Award at the American Dietetic Association's annual conference.

PRWeek: How far in advance do you like to be pitched? McLaughlin: Fitness runs on a three-month lead time, so it's important for PR people to keep us abreast that far in advance. I prefer to be pitched by regular mail. I'm more likely to delete e-mails after a very quick read (to clean up my in-box), and I find PR calls a little intrusive when I'm working on deadline. PRWeek: Is Fitness a hard-core exercise publication, or more of a lifestyle magazine? McLaughlin: More the latter. It's a source for cutting-edge news, trends, and research that active women seek. PRWeek: Your tagline is "mind, body and spirit." How is this represented in the diet and nutrition section of the magazine? McLaughlin: Fitness offers service-based articles that fully reflect the young, active woman's whole life, so the tagline helps keep our reporting balanced and open to that. For instance, even though we have a lot of weight-loss coverage in my section, we don't have a one-dimensional focus on calories and fat grams. Instead, we offer women who want to lose weight a broad spectrum of actionable tips and ideas to help them navigate family dinners, office parties, etc., without breaking their weight-loss goals. We also run stories on what it feels like, emotionally, after you have lost weight; it's not always a picnic, so to speak. PRWeek: How do you balance coverage in the diet and nutrition section to address longtime fitness buffs, as well as the everyday American who is just getting interested in working out or eating properly? McLaughlin: I try and keep my coverage objective by providing a balance of highly expert information (e.g., how to calculate net carbohydrates), and beginner stories on things like making healthy choices at the vending machine. Both topics are of interest to each type of reader, but they also bridge the two disparate knowledge levels. This comes with really understanding the reader and closely following the marketplace in order to learn what people are interested in, what they find confusing about dieting, etc. PRWeek: How has Fitness' coverage in the diet and nutrition section addressed the country's increasingly prevalent obesity epidemic? McLaughlin: I try to maintain a positive, sympathetic voice by acknowledging that losing weight - and keeping it off - in this society is extremely difficult, no matter what size you are. The message I try to get across is that small steps lead to big changes, and that even one small step can be a big change that people should feel proud of taking. ----- Name Leah McLaughlin Publication Fitness magazine Title Diet and nutrition editor Preferred contact method 5 East 26th Street, 5th Floor, New York, NY 10010 Website fitnessmagazine.com

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