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Online journalist Lazar tells students to find their niche

Emmy nominee Shira Lazar ’04 explained to Emerson students how she brought “glam to the tech world” in a recent Q & A moderated by Marketing Communication adjunct faculty member David Gerzof Richard.

After completing an internship with the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Lazar was hired as an associate producer for a morning show at a Fox affiliate in Las Vegas called The Vegas Show. She booked the entire daily show and also had the opportunity to interview celebrities on the red carpet. “It was a huge adrenaline rush,” said Lazar. “That’s when I fell in love,” she noted. When The Vegas Show folded, Lazar decided to pursue on-air work.

At that time, there were two on-air career paths, Lazar explained. “You either worked at a local news outlet and worked your way up; or worked with an agent and auditioned for shows like MTV’s Total Request Live.” Lazar opted for the latter and started creating “fake reels” so she had something to give to an agent.

Her first interview with Angelina Jolie on the Alexander the Great red carpet did not go well. In fact, the web outlet she was working for asked her not to come back. In the midst of that gig, Lazar contacted other web outlets, created her own e-zine, and worked on her craft. It was during this time that Lazar’s work with the web got started.

She began hosting a weekly, live, interactive show called What’s Trending. The show consists of celebrity panelists discussing news that is currently trending or has been during the week. What’s Trending was nominated for an Emmy in 2012.

“Find out what your passionate about—what’s your niche,” Lazar told students. “Create a portfolio around it and illustrate how you understand the digital landscape,” she advised.

“With every opportunity, ask yourself, ‘What skills will I learn? What assets will I have to bring to the next opportunity?’ It’s not good enough today just to be creative.” Lazar urged students to outwork the competition. “We’re seeing talent that already has an audience before they go to college. Figure out your place in today’s digital mix. Not everyone is going to go viral or bring a large audience, but the more knowledge you bring to the table will help,” she said.  

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