Empowered — RV’s Employee Resource Group (ERG) for women — strives to foster a community that inspires, supports, empowers, and educates women and allies of all gender identities. And one of our favorite ways to inspire and empower our community is simply by sharing the wisdom of the amazing RV women we get to work with every day.
On this month’s Empowered leaders feature, we hear from Sarah Mitroff, Managing Editor for CNET Wellness. With Sarah, we dig into Pride Month, punctuation, and representation. Check out her conversation with copyeditor Victoria Lurie below.
Victoria Lurie: What drew you to the editorial profession?
Sarah Mitroff: I’ve been voraciously reading magazines for as long as I can remember. As a teenager who pored over issues of Young and Modern, Jane, InStyle, Seventeen, Cosmo, Teen, and others, I knew I wanted to work in journalism.
I’d spot typos in books and magazines as a teenager and my mother often said I should be an editor. I also had two awesome English teachers in high school who encouraged me to keep writing.
I decided in high school that I would follow a writing/editing path as far as it would go. Many years later, I’m still on that path.
VL: What brought you back to CNET and led you to accept the Managing Editor role?
SM: I have to credit Sharon Profis for bringing back to CNET. I had left the organization for a few years to work in marketing, but was looking for my next move. She was looking for new topics for CNET to cover and wanted me to help run one of the new sections, Health and Wellness. The opportunity seemed like a great next step in my career. And the rest is history.
VL: You are a leader on a health-based editorial team during very tumultuous months for reproductive and LGBTQ+ rights. What has navigating this been like for you?
SM: I’ll be honest, it’s hard. I spent 2020 and 2021 covering the most important and intense health topic in a century – COVID. Now, we’re seeing a great divide in our country over the right for people to have bodily autonomy. I have to juggle figuring out how we cover these topics at CNET, my own feelings about women and LGBTQIA folks’ rights being attacked, and a sense of helplessness that I can’t really control any of what’s happening. All I can do is inform our readers and hope that our coverage helps people.
VL: What else are you juggling right now?
SM: While the world seems to have moved on from COVID, the pandemic hasn’t disappeared. I feel like I am just starting to emerge from the two-plus years of working from home, social distancing, not seeing my friends IRL very often, and getting back to some semblance of normal.
I was also recently diagnosed with ADHD at 33. I’ve spent years and years masking the symptoms of it, without even realizing it. Now I’m learning tactics on how to manage it, so that I can hopefully feel more organized and productive.
VL: With everything you’re juggling, what replenishes you?
SM: Being in nature. I’m lucky to live in the San Francisco Bay Area, where hiking, walks, camping, boating, and beach days are within easy reach. I always feel better after a hike or even just spending time in my backyard.
I also feel replenished from spending time with friends and playing games with my partner. I’ve always been a super social person, so the pandemic was really hard. But hanging out with friends and my partner help recharge my batteries.
VL: When was the first time you saw yourself represented in a book or on TV?
SM: There are a few examples I can name. I’m Jewish and saw my religion represented in my favorite show as a young kid, Rugrats. I saw myself in the many Young Adult novels I read as a teenager.
More recently, there’s a great scene from Schitt’s Creek where David explains his sexual orientation to Stevie – “I like the wine, not the label.” It was such a perfect way to reveal he’s pansexual and explain what that means, and it felt affirming to see my sexual identity represented in mainstream media.
VL: You’re known for building a team in which readers see themselves in your experts. What inspires you to do this representation work and be an ally?
SM: I believe that the media we all consume should represent everyone – all skin colors, races, genders, sexualities, religions, abilities and body types. That is our guiding principle for all of our wellness content, including the images we use. Media has historically focused on stories of white, heterosexual, and cisgendered folks and it’s way past time that changes.
Onto lighter stuff:
VL: The next book you’re taking out of your To Be Read pile is…
SM: I’m not sure what’s next, but right now I am reading Project Hail Mary by Andy Weir. He’s the same guy who wrote The Martian, one of my all-time favorite books. It’s about a guy trying to save humanity by traveling to a far-off star to understand what’s killing our sun.
I’ve been meaning to read Failure is Not an Option by Gene Kranz, NASA’s Mission Control Chief Flight Director during the Apollo program. I’m a big-time Apollo and space nerd.
VL: The song that most reminds you of / feels like summer?
SM: “California Gurls” by Katy Perry. Never fails to put me in a summer mood.
VL: Favorite Pride accessory?
SM: This iridescent Queer fan from Target I bought this year.
VL: What’s your guilty-pleasure freezer aisle food?
SM: I don’t believe in guilty pleasures, but my favorite freezer aisle treat is a pack of frozen Levain cookies. They are delightful.
Why stop the fun here? Enjoy another Empowered Feature by checking out last month’s edition with Senior Editor Benét Wilson.