2004 Honoree

Laurel Touby

Founder, MediaBistro

Written by Laura Laytham

Laurel Touby likes to stand out in a crowd. For a petite blonde in a big city like New York, that can be a challenge. But Touby welcomes challenges. She smartly makes her way through the packed bar, caressing the feathers that hang loosely from her neck. Amongst the chatter and noise, you can hear people taking notice and saying, “Oh, that’s Laurel Touby, in the boa!”

“Take away the word ‘networking,’” she tells me during our interview. “We’re not about networking. We’re about community.” I quickly correct myself and she continues. “People can do networking, but I don’t condone it. With networking, people come to get something from someone else. I want them to come to give to each other.” It’s this sweet sentimentality, along with her absolute drive and dedication that make Touby and Mediabistro.com so savvy. In a world full of choices and varying motivations, her path of good intentions just always seems to work.

While she admits her site was clearly a step towards “disintermediating” herself, Laurel Touby certainly has not been left out. She and her Mediabistro.com can now be found in cities around the country, from Los Angeles to San Francisco to Washington D.C. As the New York media scene’s resident “go-to girl,” the world outside is having no trouble spotting her in the crowd.

It was a “vision of bringing together a community of media people under one umbrella,” she says. The biggest hurdle, she’s found, is getting these people to overcome the walls they put up when they come into a group of their peers. “Everyone walks in with fear and intimidation and they end up repelling each other,” she explains. “They’re all similar. They’re all there for the same reason. I diffuse the situation and pull them together.” That’s the magic of Touby.

If you’ve even considered finding a job in New York City media, you’ve certainly found your way to Touby’s Mediabistro.com, the hotspot of media connections, job searches and insider news. It isn’t that it’s necessarily easy to find on Internet search engines or particularly well advertised, but like any trendy new bar or restaurant, it’s made its name by being the “in” spot online. Likewise if you’re at a Mediabistro.com event, it isn’t that you go searching for Laurel Touby, but somehow you always seem to find her. She, like her brainchild, makes connections out of thin air. She’s everywhere all at once. It’s a rare and raw talent that makes both her and Mediabistro.com click. So in 1997, that’s exactly what she did. Mediabistro.com was born.

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