2011 May 31
The Assistant Files, Vol. 13: Alainna Lexie Beddie, WSJ.'s Deborah Needleman
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What does Deborah think of T—does Deborah ever chat with Sally Singer?
I honestly think she’s too busy to think of T magazine. We’re still busy shaping WSJ. into what Deborah hopes it to be, and we’re proud of and happy with what we put out each month.
What’s the general WSJ. mood towards T?
Switzerland! I’ve only seen one issue of T in our department since I started working here, and a managing editor had casually dropped it by. We’re honestly just focused on our own work and our readers.
What’s the newsroom scoop on April’s Anna cover story?
We were so hush-hush! No one wanted to out the issue while it was embargoed, not even our publisher, so we didn’t even yell the “A”-word across the room. Deborah made sure the piece was exactly what she wanted, and everyone was happy with the result.
How are WSJ.’s staffers different than the Journal’s newspaper staff?
We’re louder, and we’re easy to spot because we have a whole fashion department of shiny, beautifully-clad people. And we sit near and work really closely with “Off Duty,” which is technically a newspaper staff; but since it’s under Deborah’s wing also, we think of them more as our quieter, equally-fashionable cousins. For the record: I don’t claim to be fashionable, I’m just associated with the people here who are!
What’s the chain of command between Deborah and the Journal higher-ups?
Deborah answers to Deborah when it comes to planning future content and finalizing layouts. And Robert Thomson [The Wall Street Journal’s managing editor] gives her a red or green light in the end once it all comes together. Mike Miller is Deborah’s immediate boss, and he is definitely more of an ally, helping us accomplish something agreeable to Robert, than an overbearing man with a large red Sharpie and the word “no” permanently tacked onto every other sentence.
What do you think the Journal’s reporters think of the WSJ. team?
I think they think we’re crazy because they can hear us across the room. We laugh loudly, debate even more loudly, and chatter as though we need to maintain the fourth floor’s background noise quota.
What are your responsibilities for “Off Duty,” the Journal's weekend lifestyle section?
I’m the food girl! Some people in the industry misunderstand and think I’m a food editor, but I’m not. I just help call in and collect the food items that we need to photograph for “Off Duty,” so I’m kind of like a fraction of a market editor. It’s a fun job because if we receive any extras, they go straight to my stomach. “Off Duty” closes weekly, so Deborah looks at pages every Thursday before they close the issue. Off Dutiers meet their deadlines much more quietly than WSJ.-ers.
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