Famous 5 – Virginia Coyne
You’ve probably seen the Washington Life covers graced by DC power players like Louise Linton and David Rubenstein, and the popular issues featuring U.S. Diplomats, Washingtonian socialites and the annual Young and the Guest List, to name a few. You might not, however, know who’s behind the scenes making sure those issues happen – from inception, to photo shoots, to publication and everything in between, Executive Editor Virginia Coyne is giving DC the access it could only dream of.
Give us a peek into a day in the life of a Washington Life editor.
Every day is different, but there’s often an interview and photo shoot involved. Washington Life publishes 10 times a year, so the work is constant. There aren’t many periods where I sit in front of a computer all day long – usually just the third week of the month when we’re editing (and sometimes still writing!) the entire issue before print. Work continues into the evening because part of the job is covering social events like book parties, restaurant openings, embassy dinners or black tie galas. I am constantly surprised at how much is going on in this city on a nightly basis – all of us on staff could attend multiple events a night if we had the stamina. I limit it to two to three outings a week.
Do you have a favorite issue or story?
Most of our issues are themed and center around lists, like the Social List, the Power 100 and the Wealth and Philanthropy List. Our annual Young & the Guest List issue, which focuses on people under 40 doing amazing things is among my favorites, but honestly, it’s more about the individuals we cover than a particular issue. I feel so fortunate that I get to spend my days getting to know and telling the stories of people who’ve have extraordinary careers and who are making a difference in some way, whether it be in the fields of journalism, philanthropy or politics. I’ve always felt, from a young age, that everyone teaches us something (even the people that frustrate us!) and it has been such an honor to report on people’s lives and learn what makes them tick. It’s really a gift. It’s also fun to make news in instances where people tell you things they haven’t told anyone else – like my interview with Louise Linton, when she apologized publicly for her Instagram debacle for the first time, or when Second Lady Karen Pence let me in on what Joe Biden told her on Inauguration day.
Let’s talk DC – favorite season?
Definitely fall. The leaves, the speckled light, the winter fashion in stores and the massive September Vogue – they all call my name. It reminds me of that feeling of going back to school, which I’ve always loved (don’t judge!). To me, fall signifies a fresh start or season of renewal more than spring. As a former TV news producer covering politics, it’s also when Congress comes back in session and when campaigning amps up in an election year, so there’s an undeniable energy in town that is really exciting.
What’s a tweet (or Instagram) that best fits your current mood?
I’m not a big tweeter myself, although I find Twitter to be an indispensable tool in keeping up with the news. There’s so much information out there, it’s hard to stay on top of it all, but by scrolling through Twitter, and getting tidbits of things I’ve missed, it makes me feel like I’m up to date not only on what’s happening in politics, but in entertainment and world events.
Part of my job is doing social media on people and events we cover, and that can be fun. Instagram stories, in particular, allow you to be creative. It’s almost like putting together a video scrapbook. But my favorite photos to post on Instagram are landscape shots of places I’ve visited, because it’s a reminder of how beautiful the world is and how there is so much more to life than what is happening in Washington. We all get so insular and when I catch myself obsessing about what’s going on in town, whether it be something the President is doing or a debate on cable news, I go back and look at my landscapes of Switzerland and Greece from last summer. Oh, and I’m obsessed with people’s puppy feeds on Instagram. They’re complete stress relievers.
Where can we find you on the weekend?
At home with my kids and stepkids, rearranging furniture around the house or looking for a treasure at an estate sale. And in the evening, if we’re not at a gala event (Lord knows I’ve dragged my husband to enough of those for his lifetime), our favorite thing to do is to try a new restaurant. We don’t make reservations because when it’s just my husband and me, we find sitting at the bar more fun. Plus, making friends with bartenders has its perks — they’ll top off your half empty glass of wine and tell you honestly what to avoid on the menu. The food scene is so hot right now, it’s hard to even get a seat at the bar. We lucked out at Tiger Fork recently, but I haven’t been as fortunate at Maydan, which I’m dying to try. I’ve also defiantly shown up at places like Bad Saint at 9pm, where people begin lining up at 4pm for a coveted seat. It hasn’t worked. The hostess usually shakes her head at me like I should know better.