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LA Media’s New Wave Power List: Meet The Editors Shaping Today’s Narrative

New, highly insatiable, intriguing and captivating forms of media have instantly become our generation’s over-saturated way of connecting with our culture. This isMedia’s New Wave. Gone are the days of waiting for your favorite magazine’s monthly release, because now, you have choices and instant access to your favorite headlines. So what are top editors seeing in the landscape of the media industry as it is now? And, is it possible to still aspire to be one of the socialites working in it?

From Editors-in-Chiefs of today’s digital and print luxury media to Senior Fashion Editors in the digital world of Beauty and Fashion, to Podcast Creatives and Lifestyle Writers for today’s ‘it girl’ digital blogs, and even a new wave social media star whose job entails not only using TikTok, but also reporting on it. We have rounded up a list of LA Media’s New Wave of Powerhouses currently thriving and shaping the narrative of the industry as we know it.

Photo by Daniel Curtis/@danyellowcurtis

The table has been set on a warm Tuesday evening in Santa Monica’s new chic hotspot, Mon Ami. A Mediterranean inspired hidden gem that has previously set the scene for another brand dinner – 818 Tequila. Its host? None other than our favorite ‘it girl’ of all time – Kendall Jenner. The mood is intimate, celebratory and energizing with The LA Girl holiday blankets stacked across the patterned sofas and lounge space as, one by one, LA’s leading editors, hosts, writers and industry experts walk into the dimly lit restaurant. They are met with greetings from our Editor-in-Chief, Erika De La Cruz, and are led into a private room where photos and social content are being taken. The group laughs together for our feature cover photo, deciding on whether to smile, or smize, and enjoy the light touch ups of a powder brush from our glam team. 

Afterward, hard-earned Mezze platters filled with hummus dips and veggies, delicious coastal cocktails, and flavorful mains like Mon Ami’s signature Lobster alla Catalana Pasta, were in order as the group was seated for dinner and a spectacular deep-dive conversation about the state of media today and what each hopes to bring to the space next year. Who are the powerhouses giving us the scoop on this new wave of digital and social hybrids of publications? Let’s meet them.

Laura Eckstein Jones, Editor-in-Chief, Modern Luxury

Laura Eckstein Jones leads editorial for Modern Luxury’s lifestyle and design publications in Los Angeles & Scottsdale, which include Angeleno, Interiors Los Angeles, and Interiors Scottsdale. A veteran writer and editor with over 20 years of experience, Laura covers what makes each city shine and highlights the unique people, places and things to know. Before arriving at Modern Luxury, the largest luxury media company, Laura was on staff at some of New York’s signature publications like Good Housekeeping and HomeStyle magazines. She spends her free time exploring with her husband, Michael, and dog, Joni.

Photo by Daniel Curtis/@danyellowcurtis

Get Ready to Earn a Black Belt in Media’s Evolution

Despite the changes and different opinions on where mainstream media and lifestyle publishing is heading, there is still plenty of love from its cohort. Regardless of the changes in media, Laura still feels privileged to be at the helm of multiple luxury lifestyle publications. When I was younger, I loved journaling, putting albums together, photography and art. Being an editor is the perfect culmination of my interests and hobbies,” says Laura. The publishing industry infamously boasts exclusive access for writers to people and events that are closed to the rest of the world. Prior to the “influencer,” there was “staff writer access” and we are understanding through this piece that that has not changed. Being the editor of Angeleno (one of her many titles) Laura has access to people, places and things she may have never experienced otherwise.

“When I moved to L.A. 11 years ago, I didn’t know much about it. But my job at Modern Luxury gave me a key to the city, which opened so many doors—and still does! Nothing makes me happier than learning about something or someone super cool and exciting, then turning around and sharing what I’ve gleaned with our readers.” -Laura Eckstein Jones

An Optimistic Perspective on Lean Teams

Laura looks back at her years that span from timely print in 2021 to present day TikTok posts and chats about the necessity of condensed responsibilities in this current landscape. Editorial teams used to be robust. Each editor had a niche subject they covered and the sales team was so large that she rarely saw them. Nowadays, media teams are streamlined to the max. Laura shares insight that puts things into perspective, remarking that, instead of 30 on-staff editors for a magazine that comes out 10x a year, a small number of editors work on, in my case,  four different titles that come out 25x a year in total,” plus social and digital channel responsibilities. Needless to say, sales & editorial teams work closely to keep brands going.

“I think it’s only natural to resist any type of change, especially change that puts a lot more work and pressure on your shoulders. But I’ve found that being flexible is key. It isn’t always easy, but to grow, you have to accept change and go with the flow. I try to stay focused on tackling one thing at a time.”  -Laura Eckstein Jones

This editorial powerhouse throws in some words of wisdom for anyone looking to join this industry, remarking that a good attitude is paramount (although it isn’t always easy to keep up). She shares that having a smaller-than-before staff isn’t ideal all the time, but it does allow editors to wear many hats and experience things they may not have otherwise. Another significant shift in the workforce is the rise of WFH culture. Many who are joining the editorial gauntlet have never worked in an office or with a team before. Regarding this, Laura shares that she tries to be mindful of junior editors (many of whom have never worked in this kind of environment) and aims to over-communicate and provide constructive feedback when someone submits something that needs work and tries to put herself in their shoes.

Photo by Daniel Curtis/@danyellowcurtis

Photography, AI & Influencers in Media’s New Wave

Once upon a time, film led to digital cameras, which led to the ability to upload photos, which in turn, led to the perfect places to upload them to social media (a brief history on the “online aesthetic” boom for those interested). Laura weighs in saying that when she started in 2001, most photographers shot on film. She remembers standing over a lightbox with a loupe and photo shoots that lasted days! Only a few shot digitally—it was the beginning of that shift, and honestly, I think we all looked down on digital at the time, ha. The joke was on us!” Now, of course, digital photography has advanced significantly, and Laura can’t imagine going back to film. “It allows us to cover so much more ground, quickly,” she says. Speaking of changes, let’s touch on AI. “For myself and many other writers and editors, I’m sure, AI is terrifying on so many levels” remarks Jones. However, as she’s dabbled in using it, she’s found it to be a great tool for generating headlines or round ups. Her conclusion? As of now, she can’t see it replacing editors, but anything is possible. She stresses the importance that AI should only be used as a tool, and not as a be all, end all, adding that it’s essential for your writing and your publication to have a distinct voice and personality. 

“I can usually tell when something has been written by a bot and it’s not a good look!” -Laura Eckstein Jones

We ask Laura to share her opinion on what will still be popular and what will die out in the next 10 years. We’re pleased to hear commentary on another hot topic about the future of editorial: the influencer. Laura examines the notion that right now, everyone’s an “expert.” Influencers have dominated shopping trends and have huge buying power, remarking that she’s certainly guilty of late night and early morning purchases via social media based solely on an influencer’s opinion. Unfortunately, many of the items she bought have gone straight to the trashcan or recycling bin because of poor quality.

 “If it’s happening to me, it has to be happening to a lot of others too. I think—or at least  hope—we’ll get back to a place where an expert opinion and an editorial eye matters. On that same note, I think there’s a movement back to quality-over-quantity. Right now, cheap thrills are everything, but having a lot of junk is a pain, bad for the environment, and doesn’t equate to having a few beautifully made, long lasting items. My hope is that impulse buys simmer down and thoughtful, good quality purchases take over.” -Laura Eckstein Jones

Having developed an expert opinion herself in the art of product and experience review, she observes that across editorial, followers and readers alike can tell when stories are not authentically shared. We can sense there’s a passion within this industry titan to move the future toward supporting the people, products and businesses that truly deserve it, with qualitative and thorough reviews.

On the Editorial & The Personal Front

When we pried about what’s in store for the New Year, Eckstein Jones shares the 2024 menu, which includes February issues and a new concept called The Design 9, rolling out across all Modern Luxury Interiors markets. Conceived by Interiors Scottdale publisher Kelly Persellin, The Design 9 awards nine incredible homes at a blowout event and features those residences in-book and online, along with the Modern Home of the Year winner on the cover. Hearing this has us licking our chops for the home decor vision board inspiration that awaits in its pages. The turnout and buzz at the maiden event in Scottsdale was unmatched. Bravo to Kelly for coming up with this concept. It really got the local design community excited about being a part of our brand and I can’t wait to see how it goes across the country next year.”

On a more personal level, Laura shares that she’d love to create something just for her and anyone who may be interested in reading what she has to say. A lot of friends she has worked with in the editorial industry have started their own newsletters and she’d love to jump on that bandwagon. “

I love the idea of creating super-curated, weekly content based on the things I know and love in the lifestyle sphere. I have so many interests that I’d love to dig deeper into—beauty, travel, design, books, and so much more. While I’m extremely lucky that my day job covers those subjects, it would be exhilarating to dive into the things I love without any restraints. Now that I’m putting this idea out into the world, I hope it happens! Wish me luck.” -Laura Eckstein Jones

From The LA Girl’s perspective, it’s already in the bag.

Judith Jones, Senior Fashion Market Editor, Who What Wear

Judith Jones claims her introduction to the fashion world came a little later in her career, but when you meet Judith for the first time, you can tell this editorial creative has fashion in her  DNA. As Who What Wear’s Senior Fashion Market Editor, Judith specializes in shopping content and trend stories with high-affiliate impact and also shares her expertise on the most sought-after shopping trends of the season (and for every budget). Previous to working in fashion, Judith worked as a TV host on the PBS travel show Globe Trekker (airing on Netflix and Amazon Prime) sharing her passion for travel and culture. Her experience in both travel and fashion has allowed her to fully understand a consumer and the culture to the core. When it comes to her personal style, you’ll find her wearing relaxed-tailored separates for work and a pretty floral frock every now and then. When she’s not writing about fashion (or personally shopping), Judith can be found snuggling and dancing with her son and eating her way through L.A’s most prominent restaurants.

Photo by Daniel Curtis/@danyellowcurtis

Fashion Taste & its Source in the Digital Era

While it goes without saying, that an editor’s tastes and opinions are still the final say before publishing, Judith reflects on the shifts that she’s experienced observing the way people consume content in this new media era as well as the way they shop, digitally. “People are much more likely to go to Instagram and TikTok over a traditional “.com” for the latest in fashion and beauty trends and shop directly on these platforms. Jones confirms that social media has undoubtedly become one of the most important players within a publication and expands on how many more platforms exist to digest content now. Compared to traditional publishing’s heyday or even the boom of the online blog—from the rise of substack to TikTok, it’s a lot more scattered. 

“Who sets the trends and who is in charge of the narrative is less clear than in the past. When I started on the editorial team, my trend stories and shopping guides were (and largely still are) based on the runways, but now, we’re seeing a much larger portion of content driven by TikTok trends and influencers.” – Judith Jones

The Future of Shopping & The Timelessness of Great Vintage

This senior editor is placing her bet on seeing a massive increase in social commerce as time goes on—a landscape in which customers will search for products and purchase directly from social media platforms. It’s widely known that this consumer habit is already growing enormously, and to her, it just makes sense that e-commerce brands will seek to capitalize on the enormous potential of social commerce. Judith adds commentary on the topic on everyone’s mind when it comes to the future of the editorial industry… AI. She hypothesizes that the influence of AI will become increasingly prominent in the way we shop, as well as the brands we, as consumers, are loyal to—directly influencing our purchasing decisions. 

 As we observe the transition from reporting trends to influence IRL purchases, to actually selling them in the text of our favorite “5 Must-Haves to Hop on Quiet Luxury ” features, we have a complex conversation during dinner about the blurred lines of writing vs. selling fashion, as well as the poetic throw back of Judith’s personal vintage project, Hyacinth Vintage.

“It goes without saying that selling fashion is massively important to any style publication. There has been an increasing emphasis on affiliate sales and commission and while reporting on fashion is essential, being able to seamlessly integrate relevant shopping picks within a story is just as important for practically every publication now. Relevance is key, and as a fashion editor, I’m very particular as to what products serve the story and the reader.” – Judith Jones

She wouldn’t be a true media creative or clothing savant without, well, another creative endeavor. Her passion project is her vintage site Hyacinth Vintage, which stemmed from her deep-rooted passion for quality second hand clothing and thrift shopping—something she did often as a child with her mother. While she sells vintage pieces predominantly online, we learn that she absolutely loves doing pop-ups IRL, which is personally, one of her favorite ways to shop. (Consider her next one LA Girl-approved, we’ll be there!)

“While online shopping reigns, I don’t think the IRL shopping experience is going anywhere anytime soon. I think people still crave connection to real stores and love the sensory experience of shopping IRL. The thrill of vintage shopping IRL produces even more of a high—especially when you score something one-of-a-kind that you know no-one else will be wearing.” – Judith Jones

Readership, Passion & Next Moves

Judith shares her observations that while the media landscape is certainly shifting (many titles are closing, teams are getting slimmer, and there has been a bigger consolidation of companies), it certainly has not taken away her burning desire to create content and inspire readers in the fashion and lifestyle space and beyond. A connection with engaged readers and the opportunity to entertain, advise, and bring some humor into her fashion stories lights her up with a burning desire to share not only fashion, but other subjects that she’s passionate about as well. 

“I’m excited to be expanding into more travel content (a big passion of mine as a former travel host). We’ll be interviewing local luminaries from specific locations around the world and getting their must-have recommendations to create chic city guides. I love the idea of mixing travel and fashion content so I’m very excited to be working on that.” – Judith Jones

On the vintage front, this day-to-day style pioneer will be looking for some cool spots in L.A. where she can host month-long pop-ups so people can enjoy the experience of shopping vintage in a curated, warm, and uplifting environment. Judith exclaims, “Watch this space!” (And you know we will be, duh.)

Photo by Daniel Curtis/@danyellowcurtis

Josie Santi, Podcast Host, The Everygirl Podcast

Ever evolving and adapting to this new media landscape is Josie Santi, a wellness editor, holistic health coach, and writer for The Everygirl. She has helped dozens of women heal their hormones, love their bodies, and find more confidence through her powerful words of wisdom.. One of her recent passions has been The Everygirl Podcast where she hosts and shares inspiration and guidance on topics like manifestation, physical wellness, self-confidence, relationships, and more. Josie has interviewed her fair share of celebrity wellness experts, pop culture icons, industry leaders, and female entrepreneurs (Alli Webb or Kendra Scott just to name a few). Connecting with her audience is her forte. Trust us, one listen to her pod or one peek at her IG stories, you’ll feel like you’re with your  BFF. It’s a distinct talent that is just one part of Josie’s beautiful personality.

Photo by Daniel Curtis/@danyellowcurtis

Podcasts & Digital Publishing: What’s the Scoop?

What better way to explore the relationship between a crowd favorite medium (podcasting) and a sometimes-niche pastime (reading), than with someone who’s profession involves both. Josie explains that a podcast is an extension of the content and mission that a publication’s audience knows and loves, but in a totally different way. It’s about developing a presence through a tool that can be called one of the most progressive and fastest growing platforms in new media.

“At The Everygirl, a podcast allows us to help women while they’re in the car, cooking dinner, or working out and I love that. But personally, my passion for podcasting is that I get to create longer-form content that goes deeper than the average quick scroll or TikTok video. Having a podcast has allowed us to give our audience a front row seat to industry experts or an in-depth discussion that can change your mood or inspire you to do something for yourself.” – Josie Santi

As the wellness editor for The Everygirl, Josie finds purpose in offering readers value, expert advice, and insights to heal their hormones, increase energy, or manifest their dream life. She also loves helping them feel good enough as they already are, emphasizing that they are the experts of their own bodies and that joy is a nutrient too. The podcast was an extension of this mission to help women live their best lives: in their health, in their careers, in their relationships, and above all, in their own happiness. For me, the podcast was a way to resonate with women on a deeper level; I found that listening to a 60-minute episode could help someone love themselves and their life perhaps more than an article could.”

The meaning and passion behind connecting to women everywhere is evident as Josie shares that every single time she sits to prep for an interview, she always thinks of the woman listening and will try to feel like she knows her so well, like she’s her friend. She explains that “she” is the 22-year-old who is graduating college and feels lost in her career, needs dating advice, or just wants to finally love her body. “She” is also the 35-year-old who wants to ask for a promotion, heal her symptoms, or manifest her dream life. Apart from the instant decision that we’re going to be playing these episodes on repeat at The LA Girl, we also deduce that podcasting is a medium that allows a higher degree of connection to an audience than ever before.

An Editorial Democratization

Amongst the chatter of disapproval for some of media’s big shifts, Santi believes it’s an exciting time to be in media, emphasizing that, years ago, everyone had to look to a few major magazines or A-list celebrities for how they should dress, act, and ultimately be and now, everyone gets the opportunity to find a media outlet, podcast, or influencer that feels most like them–that offers the content that actually makes them feel happier, rather than content they think they’re supposed to consume. We get to be our own guinea pigs, find the corners of the internet that feel most like us, and be choosy about the media we consume. Of course, not everyone is that intentional, but I think that is more and more the direction we’re headed.” 

Santi marvels at the changing landscape with thoughts of an evolution into a more equal playing field, stating that the biggest change she’s observed is the democratization of media. When asked to expand on that subject, she shares that the barriers to entry have lowered considerably, allowing anyone with a story or a message to share it with a global audience, adding that thanks to comments, reviews, etc., media has also become a two-way conversation between creators and consumers, rather than the one-way communication it used to be, and therefore,media as a whole has been pushed to be more authentic, and is more representative of the consumer instead of the narrow view it used to offer.”

“I’ve also seen a major difference in what the consumer wants. When I first started my career, the consumer wanted everything entirely curated: beautiful lifestyle images, an aesthetic feed, only expert tips and perfect lives to emulate. Now, it’s like the consumer can sniff out any amount of artificial curation and primarily craves authenticity (a perfect counter response to the over-curation)–they want relatable content that feels real and makes them feel heard, rather than purely perfection and inspiration.” – Josie Santi

Shorter vs. Longer Content, Niche vs. Broad Perspective

When we broached the topic of where new media is heading, Josie remarks that it might be the optimist in her, but she thinks the “shorter is better” trend could be replaced with the enjoyment of consuming long form, in depth content, digitally. She shares that it’s already true with the rise of podcasting becoming such a dominant media source: people are craving something more in-depth and they like to listen to a long conversation or an  in-depth interview over a quick Q&A because our world is so oversaturated with quick tips, short blurbs, stimulating videos, so consumers will crave more. We can’t help but think about how special it is to get to know our favorite wellness gurus or idols one-on-one, so fingers crossed that the future is long-form.

“I think there will also be a continued evolution of personalization in media: people will want more and more tailored, niche content. Consumers will be less and less likely to look to a major company like a fashion magazine and will look more toward smaller, niche brands and people they resonate with. – Josie Santi

Photo by Daniel Curtis/@danyellowcurtis

Authenticity, Inclusivity & True Connection

Despite the challenges and changes in the industry, Josie loves being in media, because she is able to create a community where authenticity, inclusivity, and genuine connection thrive. She shares that the space is about truly connecting to other women and mainstream media is access to an incredible opportunity to engage with women on a personal level, delving into topics that truly matter to an audience, fostering a sense of belonging, which is what she believes everyone needs right now (preach sister… so do we!).

“I am focused on bringing on more amazing guests to offer our audience the most inspiring, insightful, and life-changing content. We’re also working on collaborations with thought leaders, experts, and individuals from diverse backgrounds to bring fresh perspectives and insights to our listeners, and continuing to find ways to foster a deep, connected community of other like-minded women. Stay tuned, Everygirls!” – Josie Santi

Farai Bennett, Platforms Producer & Host, PEOPLE Magazine

Following lifestyle, culture and celebrity influence is entertainment host and producer Farai Bennett’s specialty. While pursuing his bachelor’s degree at Arizona State University he developed a passion for the entertainment industry, working for The Late Late Show with James Corden, Popstar Magazine and Access Hollywood. Farai has also had the opportunity to host for several digital platforms including Entertainment Tonight and E! News: The Rundown on Snapchat. He is PEOPLE Magazine’s current Platforms Host and Producer for the TikTok brand where he breaks down a variety of celebrity hot topics. Farai has managed to intrigue audiences with his comedic yet insightful views on celebrity lifestyles, but also offers a look at how TikTok is determining the future of media.

Photo by Daniel Curtis/@danyellowcurtis

TikTok “Fandom”

Working at a legacy company like PEOPLE is a true testament that a publication can stand the test of time. Farai says at PEOPLE capturing great content is one thousand percent a team effort. “That’s really the beauty of working at a legacy company, because they know that every department matters and that sometimes you have to do a lot of things out of the ordinary in order to evolve.” To put that into perspective, TikTok has been America’s new social media sweetheart for the past 5 years. PEOPLE magazine has been America’s publishing sweetheart for almost 50 years, yet, they’ve managed to become a digital go-to for pop culture consumption with 1.8M followers and over 98M likes. PEOPLE’S digital success could be due to their accrued, die-hard fans or TikTok’s amazing search engine, which nowadays, seems to be better than Google. 

“Back in the early 2000’s all you really had were message boards, right?  Now we have full on videos of people discussing fandom in detail, and aside from realizing you’ve never had an original thought in your entire life, it’s thrilling to connect with people who value what you’re stanning and understand the in’s and outs of a topic that you couldn’t really explain or connect to someone in real life who’s just an ‘average’ fan.” – Farai Bennett

Physical VS. Digital: Who’s Winning? 

It’s no surprise that TikTok and other various forms of digital media have shifted the way we consume, but after connecting with Farai, we gather that the old ways aren’t completely lost on this generation. It’s funny because people like to say publishing is dying but I know a handful of people who are popular in the digital space who would die to be on the cover of PEOPLE, TIME, Vogue and the list goes on.” Although the desire is still there, we don’t dismiss how brands are taking notice and using digital outlets as a form of reach. Some have fully leaned into TikTok in all the right ways according to Farai. Others have yet to take on the beast that is TikTok in fear of what it could do to their own legacy, but Bennet says now is the time for companies to use TikTok to connect and move forward and use the experts that know it so well. Now social media managers are needed more than ever and I feel like in 2014 it was never seen as a “respectable” job. I mean we’re still fighting that fight in a way, but there’s a lot more at stake when it comes to working for a media brand and not being up to date with the times we’re living in.” 

Photo by Daniel Curtis/@danyellowcurtis

 The Next 10 Years of Media?

Staying up to date on consumer habits and trends is always top of mind for this reporter. But if you were to ask him what will die out in the next 10 years, his answer may surprise, or even shock you. “I’m praying on my knees that games with celeb talent of any sort whether it’s TV or social, will die! They are so played out and boring and I think we’ve seen them all.” Honesty is not something Farai shies away from, and it’s something he’s managed to make a side hustle out of. Truth doesn’t exactly hurt, but is very funny over on his entertainment podcast Kind of Famous, Very Popular which is back in January inside a new studio location with co-host Lauren Ashley Beck. 

“I don’t think we’ll see the end of pop culture podcasts, in my opinion they’re becoming the new entertainment news shows and they’re even better because they don’t have to be super objective. Everyone is a lot more unfiltered.” – Farai Bennett

In the spirit of dissing quizzes, he does add that if quizzes and games still plan to exist, they are best seen on Vanity Fair’s Lie Detector Test, Vogue’s 73 Questions, and Hot Ones. Funny enough, our Social Media Coordinator set up her own little game for Farai and all the editors before they took their seats at our media dinner. It was a This or That: The LA Girl Edition and let’s just say there were no reservations, just authentic answers from this rising star.

Roya Backlund, Lifestyle & Astrology Editor

For most, 2023 was a year of profound discoveries and we’re certain that Roya Backlund, StyleCaster’s seasoned Lifestyle and Astrology editor, was behind the signs. She’s been obsessed with the zodiac ever since she discovered she was a Gemini at the age of six. If you’re a fan of astrology, there’s a good chance you’ve read her horoscopes, which have also appeared in Elite Daily, PopSugar, and more. When she’s not contemplating the cosmos, she spends her time reading books, casting spells, and writing poetry and fiction. She wrote a collection of poems called Juice that was released in 2017.

Photo by Daniel Curtis/@danyellowcurtis

Spiritually & Digitally Connected

For the past 7 years, Roya has been professionally writing about astrology, which has completely seeped into her overall perspective of the media landscape, as well as the world. The rituals and practices involved with this generation’s spiritual movement has absolutely informed her professional habits too. For example, her publishing dates.Something I love doing as an editor is using astrology to time when I decide to publish certain stories.” Roya uses charts to map out content, such as, love horoscopes and romantic content are Friday’s typical assignment because Friday is the day of Venus (we didn’t know this prior to our chat, but now The LA Girl is totally getting on board with this for “bae-feature-Fridays”).

“If I’m writing a story about a certain celebrity, I might choose a publishing date that compliments their birth chart, aligning our energies. Timing is everything, both in astrology and in editorial.” -Roya Backlund

She also regularly performs creativity spells that involve candles and manifestation techniques in order to breathe fire into her writing. Her space is also intricately decorated with fluorite crystal, as it aids in focus and clarity. “Astrology is poetry,” she says, crediting the spiritual technique for its abundant metaphors, symbolism, and spiritual connections to see that everything is both totally unique and irrevocably interconnected. “When you dive into someone’s birth chart, you are analyzing the poem of their life. When you read someone’s horoscope, you’re reading a story about their week.”

Roya is a storyteller. Using all facets of one’s makeup to pen an understanding of past, present, and future. She realizes that words have meaning and at any time, an editor’s feature, article or commentary can start a revolution and can lead to waves, trends, and movements in pop culture.

 “Working in editorial gives me the ability to transform the way people see the world and the way they see themselves. Having this power is a thrilling privilege.” – Roya Backlund

A Unique POV is Still King

New wave media has also unleashed a new form of content that focuses on a new age outlook, and with that, the competition can get fierce. When Roya first began her career in 2017, astrology was in the atmosphere of a select audience who sought out horoscopes to determine their day to day. The road was open, the content was subjective. Now, you’ll see that most publications are dabbling in astrology and new takes on the cosmos are constantly sought after. Readers of astrology now have an overwhelming amount of options to choose from, demanding new spins on content. Though the demand is high, individuality and authenticity in the space reigns supreme.You can’t say or do something that’s already been said and done a million times and expect readers to be impressed. Now, horoscopes and new age content needs to be truly intriguing and informative, achieving something different that makes it shine against a sea of the same stereotypes and SEO tactics.” Roya transitions into sharing about something less saturated that she hopes may make a return… the revival of print media. She believes the constant barrage of bite-sized media will eventually make us weary, driving us to reconnect with more tangible and nostalgic forms of media (ahhh we can only hope to see Allure and Instyle back on the shelves or the in depth tales and interviews we loved in the 90’s back on display). 

Is Social Media a Tool to Truly Connect?

As far as social media is concerned, Roya shares that she’s fearful its becoming too BIG and maybe losing sight of what the original intent was: connection. 

“These days, social media is becoming more centered on driving sales than encouraging us to truly connect, which is making us lonely, easily distracted, and dopamine-depleted. The pressure to become a content creator or influencer may also be taking the fun of scrolling through your feed. I could see innovations in social media happening in the next decade, as we’re already beginning to see customers long for the days of simply liking your friends posts and sharing silly images with your friends.” – Roya Backlund

We can only hope this nostalgic form of social media comes back around and leans this new wave back to authenticity. Roya says her team at StyleCaster is also missing one more thing from back in the day lately, “…the era of the advice column…” which was something to always look forward to in print pages and on digital’s hamburger menus. But Roya says to stay tuned to the StyleCaster site, because the publication is hoping to bring it back in 2024. (We will be writing in!)  

Erika De La Cruz, Editor-in-Chief, The LA Girl

Erika De La Cruz is the Owner & Editor-in-Chief of The LA Girl, whose parent publisher is Penske’s She Media. Her career includes a Best Selling book in the personal growth space, as well as a Marconi during her time at Entercom Broadcasting, now Audacy. Erika frequently appears across television shows & online platforms to share her expertise on mindfulness and manifestation practices. She is passionate about people feeling less alone and more empowered around their dreams, no matter where they come from. She is a Champion for Kenneth Cole’s Mental Health Coalition and one of her overarching goals is to transform stereotypes around what it means to be “Mexican in America.” In her spare time, she’s either playing with fashion and accessories or making vision boards.

Photo by Daniel Curtis/@danyellowcurtis

The Thing That Hasn’t Changed

Our Editor in Chief laughs as we reflect on where the media landscape is heading and pokes fun at her own inclusion on this list. With a serious face, she divulges that though she’s having a giggle, she’s honored to weigh in on this huge evolution that she’s witnessed first hand.I started in freaking radio, that’s right, FM Radio. I was a new college grad, offered a salary and Director-Level position. That’s unheard of, but at the time, I knew Twitter and Vlogging well, two things that the entire radio industry hoped would preserve the medium as a whole.” Though her time was short in the radio sphere, Erika shares that there’s one thing about the media industry specifically, that remains true, and that’s that there will always be a new, trendy  platform emerging that an entire brand will clamor to adopt. The hunger and business necessity to stay relevant is ever-present. She remarks that at the core of it though, truth is timeless and that’s what she loves about media– there’s so many different ways to share your personal truths.

“The thing I love about editorial and writing specifically is that art never goes out of style. So a personal experience or perspective will always be relevant.” Erika De La Cruz

Nepo Baby, Shmepo Baby

The conversation turns to legacy. Not just the legacy of a “Legacy Media Company,” but the legacy behind the types of people they’ve traditionally reported on has shifted dramatically, a change and progression that Erika is delighted by. She shares that traditionally, way back when, media was not so different from what we watch in Bridgerton– an array of reports around “high society” families, their whereabouts, their tastes, interests and outfits. Society was not as mobile as it is now and “high social standing” was the only qualification for being noteworthy in the papers. But nowadays, you don’t have to come from generational wealth to build it, or generational legacy to start that either.” Erika shares that she loves the new, inclusive ways that this new wave is highlighting people doing extraordinary things and though it’s not perfect (many tabloids still deem someone an “it girl” for being born to the right parents), the room for everyone and the possibilities not only to create, but to be recognized for what you’re creating has cracked wide open.

Impending Adventure

When we asked Erika about her bet on the future of the media landscape,, she replies that she anticipates much more seamless ways to get information than keyboards, or even our phones.“Maybe more voice automation in our walls or gadgets. I know eventually, Virtual Reality is going to find its stride too. It’s such a great tool, it just hasn’t found its perfect mainstream application yet, aside from video games I suppose. So maybe I’m betting that will play a part in the media landscape (or should I say Metaverse).” Erika also stresses that it takes much longer than we think for an entire medium to go extinct. To bring it full circle, radio is still a business out there, people still read and probably even fax. While time in this industry moves quickly and changes daily, the broader perspective is that security may actually exist in many of the mediums that the next generation is writing off, present day. The comforting thought of slowing down time remains as we transition into questions about her personal future and why she still loves media. 

Media’s New Wave of Opportunity

“I, specifically, love mainstream media because of the influence and impact it has on the way our entire society functions and what they find important, trendy, and top of mind. It’s a huge privilege to have a voice in the space and at least for me, I try and think through the ways I can use the mediums that I have at my disposal to better shape our own self-perspectives.”  – Erika De La Cruz

Erika shares that she believes that we can all feel like we’re enough and still be consumers at the same time. She hopes the industry catches on and empowers their audiences into conversion and clicks with feel-good, empowering tactics a little more often. She’s also excited by the new “drivers seat of editorial,”–power shifting into the hands of anyone who’s willing to learn. Years ago, my business partner and I released our book completely self published, something that at the time, I was advised would hurt the marketing and exposure of it. We observe that the duo was ahead of the curve in believing they’d have a greater impact with their own skill sets and tools. The traditional model, in this case, would never have gained the traction they did independently, and as you can deduce, the book was a success and best seller. We did it our way and it made a greater impact than I could have ever imagined. All we had to do was learn and stay disciplined. All of us are the ‘support staff’ we need to achieve anything that we desire, especially with all the new tools evolving. It’s so exciting!”

Next up, Erika will be hosting her annual Virtual Vision Board Party in the new year, where 500+ women get together for a 90 minute manifestation and mindset session,  gain clarity on their goals, and of course, create a vision board too. She hopes that each person leaving will have a clearer view of their dreams, a deeper belief that they’re tangible, and an experience of being fully guided and supported in the process (something she declares was the game changer in her own journey). Can you guess who the media partner is for this big event? You guessed right…it’s none other than The LA Girl. We’ll see you there.

For more on our exclusive media dinner, see our gallery of the evening’s event.


Photography: Daniel Curtis

Key Makeup Artist: Ray Gonzales 

Location: Mon Ami

Assistant Editor: Isha Bellur

And a special Thank You to our host, Beverly Bond PR .