Smart, Funny, and First
Entertainment Weekly (EW) editor-in-chief Henry Goldblatt (A.B., ’93) credits The Michigan Daily for molding him into the journalist and editor he is today.
“I have very fond memories of my time at The Michigan Daily,” recalls Goldblatt. “I started my sophomore year and stayed through my senior year. The idea that a bunch of kids put out a newspaper everyday was really amazing. It’s where I learned to be a journalist; it’s where I got my journalism chops.”
After graduate school at Northwestern University, Goldblatt showed those journalism chops first at Fortune magazine. In seven years, Goldblatt rose from fact-checker to writer/reporter and finally to editor. “It was a terrific, terrific training ground,” he says. “So much of editing is personality and temperament. I’m pretty calm under pressure. Plus, I never took summer vacations and they needed people to fill in. I did that for several summers, showed I could edit, and they gave me a full-time editing job after that.”
The editing job wasn’t his only recognition. In 2002, Columbia Journalism Review named him one of the “Top 10 Magazine Editors Under 35.”
“Oh God, I was so young. It was huge!” says Goldblatt. “I was incredibly flattered, especially when New York City has so many editors. It was a very sweet and kind honor.”
And he was just getting started.
Hitting the Bullseye
In 2002, Goldblatt moved to EW and into the thick of entertainment and pop culture news. He made a brief detour in 2014 as the deputy editor/brand director at People magazine, but in 2015 he returned to EW—this time as editor-in-chief.
“The very first thing I did when I came back was write a mission statement and tell everyone that EW—no matter if it’s a Tweet or a 10-page story—should embody three qualities: smart, funny, and first,” explains Goldblatt.
These qualities became the standard for all of EW’s content, including his own. Goldblatt is particularly proud of creating “The Bullseye,” a back-of the-mag review of the week’s “hits” and “misses” delivered with witty—if sometimes harsh—one-liners on a bullseye graphic.
Meeting celebrities is one of the perks of being the magazine’s editor-in-chief. Here, Goldblatt poses with Mary J. Blige at a pre-Emmy party in Los Angeles.
Goldblatt also integrated EW's print and digital editorial operations to make EW run more efficiently. “It doesn’t make sense when covering a movie to have someone doing all the print coverage and someone else doing all the digital coverage. There should be one expert on every beat,” he explains.
This more streamlined EW aligns with Goldblatt’s goal to give people the best entertainment news in whatever medium they’re using, wherever they are. “It goes back to the idea that a vibrant brand in this decade can’t just operate as a magazine,” he says, which is why he’s excited to see various EW media formats grow. “I was really excited to watch the EW radio channel launch on Sirius XM 105.”
EW has a loyal and dedicated audience who knows EW is a trustworthy and authoritative news source. “We do everything in our power to maintain that trust and that bond with our readers,” says Goldblatt.
One way Goldblatt has managed to do that is by hiring great people. “I have a guy who’s an expert on horror movies—he lives and breathes horror movies. That’s so not my thing, but I’m grateful to have him on staff because our readers love horror movies,” he says. “Again, it’s creating a staff that has such diverse interests that reflects the interests of our readership.”
It also helps that EW has access to Hollywood that many of its competitors don’t, access that can sometimes even leave Goldblatt starstruck. He remembers interviewing pop-star/American Idol winner Kelly Clarkston. “I’m a huge Kelly Clarkston fan.” says Goldblatt. “Meeting her was just like heaven.”
The chance to appear on EW’s cover is an honor celebrities covet, Goldblatt says. “Every single celebrity in Hollywood still wants to be on our cover. We are very fortunate that we have this asset, as well. It goes back to being smart, funny, and first. The fact that we’re a trusted authority and we have access to Hollywood—there’s nobody else in the business that can call up the celebrities we do and interview them. There’s a wide range of celebrities we have access to.”
Of the star-studded moments of his career, Goldblatt says his all-time favorite was interviewing the cast of The Carol Burnett Show for EW’s 2011 Reunions issue. Goldblatt spoke to Burnett and her former co-stars Vicki Lawrence and Tim Conway.
“I was such a fan growing up. It was such an honor and delight to meet them. They were everything in person you would want them to be. The interaction between them was sparky and funny; it was a great deal of fun watching that,” recalls Goldblatt.
But fun is just another day on the job for Goldblatt. “They pay me to watch TV and movies and listen to music for a living,” he says. “I still can’t get over that.”
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