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Friday Feature: Karen Borsari, SHAPE Magazine

Karen-Halloween_0It’s an annual tradition for fit women to step out in their naughty [ENTER COSTUME TYPE] for Halloween, in 2011 offered expert advice in a story by Karen Borsari. Cabbies honked and construction workers howled as the web editor from Connecticut stood on Park Avenue in a Moulin Rouge costume from Frederick’s of Hollywood. Borsari filed three stories that day which was typical: one on exercise science, another on nutrition and the Halloween garb piece. All in a day’s work… anything could happen… peer (colleague) pressure to pose on Park Avenue in a Moulin Rouge costume included.


The morning at SHAPE was a hectic time, the digital editorial staff would look at what was trending on NY Times and other leading publications. They scanned new fitness studies and were always looking for juicy celeb gems, especially if it was a celebrity slated to appear on an upcoming cover. They monitored their Web traffic and shares, it was important.


Former Gawker editor, Neetzan Zimmerman says, “If a person is not sharing a news story, it is not news.”


At SHAPE, the print staff and digital folks reported independently, they ensured the online stories weren’t scooping the print edition, but other than that it was wide-open. It’s an office full of surprises, Arnold Schwarzenegger the “Governator” would make an occasional cameo. Jordin Sparks stopped in for an interview with the print team and Borsari hit it off with her. Sparks, the American Idol sixth season champ ended up being one of Borsari’s favorites.


“I knew who she was, but can’t claim to have been her biggest fan, but when I got to know Jordin, I became a huge fan, she’s incredible. I did two Twitterviews with Jordin, she sat there for 90-minutes, the last 15 minutes we opened up questioning to the Twitterverse with the hashtag, #AskJordin.”


Borsari’s Twitterview with the matriarch of fitness, Jillian Michaels and the hashtag #AskJilian was the No. 3 world trending topic. There were some perks on the job – her favorites were the experiences and sneak peeks at new group exercise classes from celebrity trainers such as 50 Cent’s guy, Jay Cardiello.


“Jay would come to our office or to a nearby park and preview new classes for us. Sometimes there would be a few of us; sometimes it would be just Jay and I. It was cool to get a one-on-one training session with such a great trainer.”


Borsari could have netted a premium rate from NYC gents to join her for yoga on the rooftop of a SoHo boutique hotel, then massages, then cocktails… with Victoria’s Secret Angels… $5,000 per would have been reasonable.


Borsari has now come to common crossroad in the world of journalism. She was laid off at SHAPE… all of her former colleagues are also gone. She’s been able to make more money in marketing, she manages corporate social media campaigns, but there’s a void.


“I loved working in digital journalism. I like that it’s fast paced and the reader engagement is awesome. You get to know your readers and you get instant feedback. It’s amazing when a reader lets you your story helped or inspired them. It was awesome to develop followers. I do miss working with young, energetic people with amazing ideas. I don’t read SHAPE anymore, it makes me sad to not be part of it.” Borsari added.


SHAPE Magazine was purchased by Meredith Corporation on January 30 and today is the last day for most… of… the… remaining… staff.


The journalist’s journey in 2015 is tough business for the thick-skinned.

Carrie Bradshaw made it look so easy.


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