Exceptional Woman in Publishing for 2011

EWIP honors Laurel Touby

Laurel Touby

Laurel Touby, founder of mediabistro.com is the thirteenth recipient of the annual EWIP award. The award is given to a woman in publishing who has achieved a high standard of professional excellence, and has made extraordinary contributions to the publishing industry. The 2011 EWIP award was presented to Touby at the luncheon celebration during the Women’s Leadership Conference in San Francisco on February 25, 2011.

Laurel Touby is the founder of mediabistro.com, a website that has revolutionized the way people in the media industry do business, connect and communicate.  Before Friendster.com, MySpace, Facebook, or HuffingtonPost, there was mediabistro, a site devoted to community building, social networking and career improvement for the millions of professionals working in journalism, publishing, advertising, marketing, design and other media-related specialties.  

Touby graduated from Smith College with a degree in economics and soon after landed her first job at a large New York City ad agency. She then went on to a successful career as a magazine writer and editor, first on staff, then as a freelancer. But, the freelance lifestyle meant that she spent much of her time working from home alone.

In 1994, Touby and another freelancer decided to host a cocktail party in order to meet new people. Thus began a series of “media salons,” which ultimately led to the founding of Mediabistro. The original gatherings started out small. Once a month, a dozen or so writers and editors met up at a local bar.

By 1996, Touby’s guest list numbered in the thousands. That year, she took the party online by launching a website with a gossipy bulletin board, insider job listings, and user-generated event listings. She wrote a business plan and successfully closed a $1 million round of funding in 2000. Touby then sold mediabistro in 2007 for $23 million to Jupitermedia (now known as WebMediaBrands).  More than 1,200,000 media professionals worldwide have registered on the site. Users subscribe to mediabistro’s many services, which include educational seminars, conferences, events, forums, and industry-specific blogs, such as the popular TVNewser.

The Manhattan Chamber of Commerce honored Touby with the “Entrepreneur of the Year Award” in 2007 and Smith College awarded her The Smith College Medal in 2010. 

Married to journalist Jon Fine, Touby currently consults for mediabistro.com and other start-up companies; she recently joined the Media Task Force of the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum.

Photo credit: Kathryn MacDonald