Media Insights

Media Insights On...Westchester Magazine and 914INC.


Robert Schork photo

Robert Schork, Senior Editor of Westchester Magazine and Executive Editor of 914INC.  

Robert Schork began his editorial career as a contributing writer and consultant on ABC's General Hospital: The Complete Scrapbook, the TV network's official coffee-table companion book to its popular (and his favorite) series. 

Years earlier, Schork "dropped out" of high school after his sophomore year to enter college two years early at age 16, when he attended Bard College at Simon's Rock-the nation's only four-year liberal arts and sciences college founded exclusively for younger scholars. There, he double-majored in natural sciences and social sciences, but ultimately found the most enjoyment burning the midnight oil as the college newspaper's editor-in-chief.

In addition to contributing to other ABC-TV book projects, Schork has more than a decade of senior-level editorial experience at national consumer entertainment publications from major media companies, including American Media, Primedia, and Source Interlink Media.  His interview "gets" range from Donald Trump, Martha Stewart, and Susan Lucci to Betty White, Christopher Meloni, and the late Aaron Spelling. Over the years, Schork has been quoted and featured as an expert/guest commentator by numerous local and national media outlets, including CNN, the Associated Press, the ABC radio network, SOAPnet and the Chicago Sun-Times.

A Westchester resident for twelve years, Schork had been the managing editor at Soap Opera Weekly/Soap Opera Digest before joining Spotlight Publications in 2008 as the senior editor of Westchester Magazine. Schork also serves as the Executive Editor of its brand new business lifestyle-focused spin off, 914INC.  When he's not proofing pages, Schork can be found volunteering his time at night as an auxiliary police sergeant in the NYPD, where he uses his natural "talents" (he's 6'7") to deter crime and help keep the peace.

Q. Congrats on the launch of 914INC!  What is the publication's focus and how's feedback on the inaugural issue been so far?
A.  Thank you!  We have positioned 914INC. as a "business lifestyle" magazine, which seeks to blend and meld the personal and the professional. We think this simply reflects our daily lives. Let's face it-most of us spend most of our waking hours at the office with our co-workers, and not at home with our loved ones. It's our goal to help you make the most of that time, and help you in conducting your business here in Westchester-whether you're a CEO, manager, small business owner, entrepreneur, or other business professional. I'm happy to report there has been incredible enthusiasm and support for 914INC. since the day we went public with it last spring-and the feedback on our premiere issue has been uniformly exuberant. It has been very gratifying to all of us working hard to put it together.

Q.  Describe your role for both Westchester Magazine and 914Inc?  What's a "day in your life" like?  A.  Like most publishing companies, we all wear many hats here. I work closely with our Editor-in-Chief, Esther Davidowitz, to oversee and direct the operations of all our titles, plus our growing website and online platforms. My day begins with a to-do list that I put together for myself the night before-the challenge for me is to complete it. But what usually happens is that for every one item I scratch off the top of the list, I end up adding one (or two) more at the bottom as things evolve throughout the day. If I can at least break even in my adding and subtracting to my list by day's end, I consider it a victory, LOL. My time is divided among many things, from administrative tasks and budget reports to editing first drafts of incoming stories and doing my own original reporting and writing. A lot of my time is spent managing our freelance writers and being a resource for them as they complete their assignments, as well as developing ideas for future cover and feature packages down the line.

Q.  How and where do you gather most of your story ideas and find your sources? 
A.  Our story ideas come from everywhere: we start with the ideas we can brainstorm ourselves in our editorial meetings. But from there we tap family, friends, loved ones, our neighbors, our doctors, our hairstylists-and our readers. And of course we receive a steady stream of pitches from publicists and PR firms, which we always welcome and appreciate! 

Q.  What do you like best about working with PR professionals?  And, what are some of your pet peeves about them, if any?
A.  We're lucky in that most of the PR professionals we've worked with here in Westchester and the surrounding region are real pros-they know us, they know our product and our audience and what we're trying to do in our publications, so they do their best to pitch things that may fit our needs. My only "pet peeve" is the aggressive follow-ups, especially after I've acknowledged that I've received the pitch. Once or twice is fine to put something back on my radar screen, but anything more frequent than that is distracting. It may take a while for the right fit between a pitch and a story to a present itself (if it ever does); unfortunately, calling about it every week does nothing to hasten that process.

Q.  How do you prefer PR people contact you? (via email, phone, via social media)
A.  I strongly prefer email-it's much less intrusive. I'm usually multi-tasking with 4 or 5 things open on my monitor, and so to pull myself out of that to discuss a pitch unexpectedly can really be a speed bump in my productivity. When you call, I'm going to ask you to summarize it in an email anyway, so I have the salient points in black and white to review when I have time to give it my full attention. I make time in my schedule each week to read and digest the pitches people email me, and do my best to give a prompt answer or acknowledgement.

Q.  Is there anything else you'd like to share with PRSA W/F's members? 
A.  We always welcome your ideas, and appreciate your support of our publications. Many times we're looking for particular people/businesses to fit specific scenarios or criteria for a given story that we're working on. In those cases, I will often send out "flares" to publicists I've worked with in the past, asking them if they have any clients who may fit what we're seeking. This has proven to be an efficient and successful model of working together. Please email me at [email protected] if you'd like to introduce yourself and your clients to me.