901 Tower Drive Suite 420
Troy, Michigan 48098
Please provide your job title and media outlet(s), as well as a brief description of your duties:
I am MLive Media Group’s Detroit-based Trending News Reporter. I am tasked with not only keeping tabs on the auto industry, but also an eye on all regional and national news with ties to Detroit and Michigan as well as serving as our backup weather reporter. I am the true definition of a utility player, and pride myself on being able to help out across the board.
Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
With my position, my duties change each and every day. I am counted on to get in front of the days’ biggest news whether hopping in front of a camera for a Facebook live or hunkering behind my computer screen for a day of writing. Every journalist will say each day is a different, but for me, it really is and I’m counted on to not miss a beat no matter what is thrown my way.
Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.
I have the most fun at events like the North American International Auto Show and the Faster Horses Festival, which are two big ones I have a major hand in helping lead the coverage for. When I’m surrounded by chaos and people freaking out about how much time they have to get something done, that’s when I’m at my best.
Specifically, I launched the “Will Ben Fit” video series at the Detroit auto show which simply features me and my 6-foot-6 frame squeezing into nearly every car on the showroom floor. It’s a fun time that lets me show off my personality and love of being in front of a camera, and also serves as a great way to connect with not only readers but automotive PR representatives. This past year we changed things up by adding a more pint-sized reporter (“Will They Fit) to the mix to change things up to offer a different perspective to the “Will Ben Fit” series, and I’m looking forward to coming up with a new angle for next year’s show.
What story or stories are you most proud of?
While I am very proud of my work with MLive Detroit and as a member as MLive’s Trending Team, I am most proud of the challenges I faced as a reporter with the Jackson Citizen Patriot. I had only been a full-time employee with the Citizen Patriot for about eight months when I found myself responsible for the coverage of breaking news, business, entertainment, weather, courts and as a backup high school sports reporter.
I not only proved myself as a professional reporter and writer, but was able to show off my dedication and work ethic to my company, the industry and the passionate local readers counting on us for coverage. Being thrown into the fire was exactly what this greenhorn reporter fixated on sports needed at the time.
What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?
With the flexibility that comes with my position outside of the auto industry, I look for topics I think will matter to a statewide and national audience. If I feel something is super interesting and feel myself wanting to learn more, I usually explore that topic and see if it makes sense for our readers. I make a real daily effort to put myself in our reader’s shoes when thinking about coverage ideas and topics to pursue.
How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?
I have been an employee with MLive Media Group for more than five years now as the company hired me as a high school sports reporter with its Grand Rapids-based sports desk while I was still attending Central Michigan University. I drove between Mount Pleasant and Grand Rapids 3-4 times each week with a full class schedule and other demanding job with Coca-Cola just to show the people who eventually hired me how badly I wanted to break into this industry. That was 60 hours of work each week, 15 hours of classes and way too much driving back and forth, but I wouldn’t trade the experience gained or lessons learned.
Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting…
If I’m not reporting, I am either running the pop culture website/podcast I operate on the side in the Court of Nerds, working out, reading or playing video games, or spending time with friends and family.
What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
Just shoot me an email, find me on Twitter and talk to me like you would a normal person. If I see a generic, copy and pasted email (with the wrong name at the top) it’s more likely that I will overlook it unless it really has a subject line that grabs my attention.
Any pet peeves with PR people?
Calling shortly after I don’t return an email. Not running a story, taking an idea or getting back to you is never personal, it’s usually dependent on what job I’m doing that week.
Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, etc.)
I’m an only child workaholic who likes to think he enjoys relaxing and downtime. In reality, if I’m not doing something to carve a path out for my future then I’m usually bored out my mind. When my family, friends or partner force me to slow down, you can usually find me on my family’s boat in Cadillac or in a movie theater somewhere here in Southeast Michigan.
Check out some of Bejamin’s latest work here: