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Meet the Media: Gideon Scanlon, Editorial Director of Media Matters Inc.

I am the editorial director of Media Matters Inc. I am responsible for the production of the editorial content for Collision Repair, Canada’s best-read collision industry trade magazine, as well as for Canadian Auto Recyclers, Bodyworx Professional, Canadian Towing Professional, and Collision Quebec. I regularly writes columns and editorials.

Can you tell us what types of stories, trends or issues are on your radar now?
At the moment, the collision industry is at the tail-end of a two-decade period of professionalization. As larger and larger multi-location businesses replace smaller, often family-owned auto body businesses, industry readers want to know how to remain able to compete. As a result, our coverage focuses on ways to cut down cycle times, appeal to auto insurance businesses, new ways to incorporate technology into the production process and general managerial advice.

Describe the craziest or most fun story you have written.
As a graduate student studying international journalism, I wrote about peace-building exercises between Israeli and Palestinian youth. During the research phase of the story, I found myself in a trying to express polite disinterest in buying a nickel-plated glock in a Ramallah market, and, in Jerusalem, accidentally joining in a re-enactment of the passion of the Christ on the Via Dolorosa.

What story or stories are you most proud of?
I remain proud of a set of expert interviews Monocle 24 cut into a radio segment on which states would become swing states after the 2016 American presidential election.

What elements or characteristics do you look for in a story?
Everyone has a story, but very few people recognize what it is. In profiling many business owners, I have come to recognize that the things which make people special need to be identified by the writer during a conversation with the subject.

How long have you been in journalism and how did you get started?
My first foray into reporting was covering a company that was building biowaste plant which would–ostensibly–turn Toronto’s sewage into usable fertilizer. It was done at the urging of a Toronto city councilor.

Finish this sentence: If I am not reporting, I am …
…lost in the prison of my mind, fascinated by the people and cultures of the Bronze age.

What advice do you have for PR people that want to pitch you?
PR people need to pitch to the magazine first, with their client’s message second. Editors can–and regularly do–block emails.

Any pet peeves with PR people?
Provide the angle you want, but don’t spoil your work by going overboard with praise for your clients. Press release writers often try to exploit lazy reporters by peppering positive unverifiable, vacuous, or meaningless words into their pieces. If there are too many to bother cleaning out of a piece, it will just be entirely rewritten.

Tell us a little about yourself (family, interests, hobbies, background, etc.)
A British-Canadian politics junkie, I now live in Toronto with Hazel, my Italian spinone. Beyond work, I am an avid reader, enthusiastic amateur cartoonist, over-confident singer and enthusiastic sailboater.

I hold a master’s in international journalism from City University of London, and a bachelor’s in history from Durham University.

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