December 5, 2018


You may have heard that Mark Ruffalo recently lost his backpack in Central Park. The Cut's Gabriella Paiella began her post "Can Mark Ruffalo Please Lose His Backpack Again?" like so:

Reading Gabriella is a reliable way to bring yourself down to earth and laugh your ass off. She spoke with Clipped about blogging, absurdity, and Tony Shalhoub.
— Natalie

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Q&A with Gabriella Paiella, senior writer at The Cut

Besides Gwyneth Paltrow, do you find most people are aware of The Cut? I ask mainly out of curiosity about how much explaining you need to do while meeting new people or reporting. And because it’s somehow only 10 years old.

It depends! Usually, yes, but I try to be as conscious as possible that I do live within a bubble of sorts and that makes it more likely that I’m going to encounter people who are familiar with what we do. If I’m reaching out to an interview subject who I think may not be as familiar, I always make sure to contextualize my ask by explaining that we’re New York Magazine’s site for women.

You’ve mastered the 140-character joke. Do you even need 280 characters? Did tweet-humor come naturally to you, or have you adapted to the form over time?

Sure, I enjoy having the extra room, if only so I can be as demented as possible. I wouldn’t say my tweets are totally unfiltered, but I don’t think about them too much. I just shoot off the first joke to come to mind on any particular subject. I have such a love-hate relationship with the platform. It can be incredibly fun. On the other hand, I don’t know if it’s always ideal for my creative brain. The pace is frenetic. Everyone’s always mad at something, and it’s usually something almost impressively stupid. I’m trying to be more conscious about not pulling the trigger right away all the time, and reminding myself that I can sit with an idea and mold it into something larger than just a short missive thrown into the void. But it can be hard when tweeting makes you feel like a lab rat on cocaine (so, incredible!!!).

As far as the horny Bruce Springsteen gallery though, that came from ... being horny for Bruce Springsteen.

Can you talk about the origins of the “I Think About This A Lot” column? How did you envision it? Has it changed over time?

We were in a staff meeting and my colleague at the time, Dayna Evans, brought up that “I think about this a lot” is a phrase that people frequently say online about various specific pop culture moments. From there, she turned it into a column, and when she left The Cut I took over editing it. I have such a soft spot for it because it’s fairly divorced from the news cycle and doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is a breath of fresh air.

What are some elements or qualities of a news post at The Cut that differentiate it from any other newspaper, digital outlet or magazine covering the same story?

I’d been religiously reading The Cut for years before I worked there, and I think it all comes down to tone. Yes, everyone in digital media is covering the same stories all the time. When you come to The Cut, you know there’s going to be a specific, imaginative angle and tonally, it’s sharp and clever and funny, but also nuanced and empathetic. We also have a ton of standout original reporting.

How do you describe your beat? What’s it like to cover both hard news or politics, plus Hot Duck, Fat Bear and Big Cow? How do you split your time between quick-hits and long-term features?

I’m very much a generalist, and so when I’m asked about my beat I usually say something like “all the weird stuff.” But in the same way as when you can tell if something’s a Cut story, I think you can tell if something’s a Gaby story. I love absurdity. I try to approach everything with a lens of humor first -- I want my stories to be a respite of sorts.

As far as splitting my time goes, it completely depends on what assignments I’ve got going on at the moment.

Do you have a preference for blogging versus field reporting pieces? Any other types of media you'd eventually like to pursue?

I definitely prefer reporting or writing essays to blogging. Don’t get me wrong, blogging can be super enjoyable, but the pace of the internet is grueling. It’s very easy to burn out, to hit a wall. As far as other types of media, I’ve always wanted to try my hand at TV and film writing.  

Your lists and photo/illustration galleries are really a gift to the web. How do you think about visuals when pitching?

Thank you! I don’t consider it while pitching usually, but we have an amazing photo editor who makes it happen once the story’s in motion. As far as the horny Bruce Springsteen gallery though, that came from ... being horny for Bruce Springsteen.

Has anything come of your ode to Tony Shalhoub (i.e. correspondence from Tony Shalhoub or his kin)? I did tune into your AM2DM clip.

Sadly, no. Now my only option is to solemnly wander the earth in my I Simply Love Tony Shalhoub shirt until he notices me.   

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