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Media Minds: Mary Wisniewski

Technology Reporter

Mary is a reporter for American Banker and contributing editor for Bank Technology News. She was a blogger, editor, journalist and content curator for Royal Media Group, where she covered commerce and financial technology for numerous publications, including Bank Innovation. She also served as a fashion editor for National Jeweler, where she reported on fashion shows and jewelry news. Her work has also appeared in Billboard, Cracked and a number of business media outlets. Mary grew up in the Michigan suburbs and now lives in New York with one roommate, a record player and an espresso machine. Mary is endlessly curious and follows anything that grabs her. Current interests include “fintech,” literature, travel, good conversation, Cat Stevens and Gidget. Want to learn what makes Mary tick? Read on.

What makes a good story?

It depends on the definition of good. Important business stories reveal something that needs to be revealed, but my favorite stories show something about the person behind the company. Sure, the business plans matter, but I also want to know the CEO drinks Jameson and has a soft spot for The Voice. What makes people tick helps make a story relevant for more than a day.

What story, in your career, are you most proud of?

This one is hard. I’m sidestepping. (Sorry!) One of my favorite stories to research involved spending a day with a video teller to explain an emerging trend through her eyes. The day-to-day work stuff tends to draw me into a piece.

In college I profiled my icon, now friend, Gidget. That experience definitely goes down in my favorites file, too.

How did you get your start?

I wrote a high school living column for my local paper in Michigan. Then, after internships with Cracked, C magazine, Hour Detroit and Whole Life Times—and gaining a BA—I lucked into a fashion reporting gig for a jewelry publication in New York.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Red flags on emails.

What story do you wish you would have been able to cover or hope to be able to cover?

I’m interested in covering companies’ quirks—always.

Why is journalism rewarding to you?

It’s a profession that demands constant learning about people: their dreams and their failures. It’s life, and it’s beautiful. And when an audience connects to these stories, I get giddy.

What made you interested in banking?

A had a chance to help develop a digital community for debt collectors. I wanted to learn how to foster conversation among trade professionals digitally, and I took a job in finance reporting to get the lesson.

What famous historical figure do you wish you could have interviewed and why?

Fyodor Dostoyevsky. I can’t get enough of The Brothers Karamazov. His mind is a dream. I’d bow to him.

As the technology reporter at American Banker and contributing editor at Bank Technology News, what are you most excited to hear about?

I get excited about a lot. The topics that keep jazzing me surround emerging technology meant to help people get better rates or get smarter about their money in exchange for data.

What makes you tick and why do you do what you do?

I’m stealing a line from Coco Chanel on this one, “I was given a chance, and I took it.”

Are there specific tech trends that you are most excited about in the banking space?

I’m drawn to shaking up underwriting plays, data visualization, design of brick-and-mortar branches and digital apps, and surprising pilots.

What’s are your writing goals and hopes for 2014?

I want to cover stories in unexpected ways. If I’m told a company is transforming something, I want to see the thing in action—even if it’s only happening from a garage.

I pursue personal essays/blogs in my off-cubicle time and plan to keep up with that. It draws attention to some of my madness, and I think that’s a good thing. I really enjoy creative nonfiction.

Are there specific things you feel PR folks should know about American Banker and how to best approach you?

It always depends on the reporter or editor. For me, the best approach is to pitch me before the release is written and avoid overhyping.

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