Meet the team

(More profiles to come)

Name: Arshy Mann

Role: Reporter

Hometown: Vancouver, BC, Canada

What’s the best part about working at Xtra:

I like the fact that we’re able to tell stories from a perspective that most of the media doesn’t. I think it’s also the fact that we try our best to hold powerful institutions to account for what they do to some of the most marginalized people in society.

Here’s what I like as a reporter about working at Xtra: I get to cover everything from small-time community activism, to municipal politics, to provincial politics, to crime, to international issues to sitting down with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. It’s a little bit of everything. It’s the ideal kind of job for the type of journalist who is interested in many different issues.

What does a typical busy day look like for you:

Drop by court, come into the office, do some transcribing, try and finish up a story, book some interviews, do some of those interviews, do more transcribing, go on Twitter and make sure the world hasn’t ended.

What are some of the most interesting stories you’ve worked on at Xtra:

The alleged Toronto serial killer case [Bruce McArthur]. I haven’t worked on a story like this before. Interviewing the prime minister was interesting. Doing deep dives into the LGBT movement in Barbados was interesting because nobody else covers at, at least not in a serious way in which Canada plays a huge role — but yet it gets completely ignored by the rest of the media.

The Black Lives Matter coverage was interesting because it elicited real emotion. We were covering their activism well before they disrupted the Toronto Pride parade in 2016. We were one of the few, if only, Canadian outlets to treat them as an LGBT rights movement.

I’ve also liked to work on the stories about LGBT refugees because you get to make a significant difference in the life of someone, in a very tangible way. You can clearly see the effects of the work you do on another individual’s life — there are real stakes. I think sometimes with journalism, it’s hard to tell if you’re making a difference or not. And when you’re working on stories like some of these — how could you not?

Weirdest thing that’s happened while you’ve worked here:

I’ve got to ask two different world leaders about anal sex. One went fine except he grimaced; the other heckled me for a good 20 minutes.

What’s one of your favourite YouTube or Vine videos?

I like the video of Mr Rogers going to Congress and convincing them to not cut funding for public television.

Name: Eternity Martis

Role: Associate editor

Hometown: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

What’s the best part about working at Xtra:

I’ve always wanted to work somewhere that maintained a community and advocacy journalism feel. When I was a journalism student, I was told that neither was possible in the industry; I jumped at the chance to work at Xtra.

I also wanted to work somewhere that was sex-positive and celebrated this. On my first day, just three or four hours in, I met with my first freelancer who threw me off by saying they wanted to write about golden showers, then proceeded to describe their experience in great detail. I was completely caught off guard by the refreshing honesty and joy in telling their story, especially because we’ve been taught to feel shame when talking about sex. I immediately knew this was the place for me. It turned out to be one of the best stories I’ve worked on!

I’m so happy to work with a young, passionate team that is committed to being watchdogs and telling stories that matter — not just breaking news but thoughtful analysis pieces, features, videos and personal essays — in LGBT communities across Canada and abroad. There’s so much opportunity to unapologetically push the envelope and cover stories that mainstream media can’t or won’t. Plus, it’s a great team: everyone brings their own expertise and knowledge to the table and different opinions and perspectives are not only valued, but encouraged.

What does a typical busy day look like for you:

When I first come in, I check/answer emails and look over pitches, then look at the analytics to see how yesterday’s stories did. If it’s the beginning of the week, I’ll write the Xtra Gay or Xtra Queer newsletter, which alternate each week. Then I edit some stories from our freelancers and commission illustrations or photos for those pieces.

Depending what’s on the editorial calendar, I’ll publish the day’s stories and videos then post them to our social media channels. Sometimes there will be an editorial meeting to discuss future projects and ways we can tell stories, I’ll probably meet with a freelancer for lunch or coffee to discuss some contribution opportunities, and then in the evening I’ll attend a community event to both support and network with folks.

What are some of the most interesting stories you’ve worked on at Xtra:

Some of the most interesting stories I’ve worked on, and am most proud of, have been personal essays by our freelancers. So many of them have beautifully combined how their own LGBT identity intersects with a variety of other factors: race, ethnicity, family, religion, trauma, sex and sexuality. It’s so inspiring and courageous. It’s always an honour to work with them to share their stories.

What’s one of your favourite YouTube videos?

The dad who is chortling while filming kids slipping on ice while he waits to pick up his own kid from school.

Name: Arnaud Baudry

Role: Engagement director

Hometown: Boussay, France (I moved to Canada in 2011)

What’s the best part about working at Xtra:

We’re a young, fun team and we’re pretty passionate about what we do. I think there’s a lot of opportunity for trying things out, experimenting and looking at new ways we can tell stories and engage readers. What I also like is the spirit of the company; it’s a mission-driven organization so we not only create content but we’re here to actually have an impact on the world. It gives purpose to the work we do.

What does a typical busy day look like for you:

All of my days are quite different,  but if I tried to sum it all up, a busy day would be starting the day looking at the analytics of what we did the day or week before, looking at what stories got some interest from the readers, what was engaging on social media and looking at what the competition is doing.

I’d also have some meetings with the editorial department to look at what’s coming up and ways we can engage our audiences and new ways of telling stories. Then I would be working with the development team to develop new features and making sure our website is efficient and meets the needs of our editors, and then I’d be working with the marketing department to look into ways of promoting Xtra externally (such as getting booths prepared for Pride season across Canada).

What are some of the most interesting projects you’ve worked on at Xtra:

The first is rebuilding the website to make it more in-line with our brand and more accessible from a mobile device. Also, Xtra Spark which is really more activism-oriented to look at ways we can have activities that complement what we do on our journalism side. So I really like this activism aspect, and I think it’s what really differentiates us.

What’s one of your favourite YouTube videos?

Some sort of video of cats. It’s my favourite. I love cats. I have two. I love them.