Timed to launch along with President Obama’s inauguration, the “Woman Around Town” website, and its founder, Charlene Giannetti, have been brimming with imaginative ideas
and award-winning writing ever since. With rotating screens to feature events and people in both Manhattan and Washington D.C., the “WAT” website reads like a high-quality online magazine, offering relevant information to woman all over the globe who may choose to visit these cities, or simply want to keep abreast of the happenings.
Giannetti got her start as a newspaper journalist, working for such rags as US News and World Report. Then her book career took off, and she published eleven books, mostly how-to’s on raising adolescents, achieving notoriety that eventually got her on the Today Show. After a small, woman-focussed, Upper East Side newspaper she edited didn’t survive the steady decline in newspaper journalism, she took a year off to do research. What she discovered was that the most viable journalistic medium she could offer would be paperless. After she took a web technology seminar with Jennifer Shaheen, and decided to hire her, she joined forces with business partner Debra Toppeta, an attorney and a “great writer and editor,” and the “Woman Around Town” website was born.
For the first few years, the site dealt exclusively with New York City happenings. But when Giannetti’s husband began working in D.C., she decided to keep an apartment in NYC, and expand “WAT” to both cities, which she says have a lot of cross-over tourism. Her initial anxiety about leaving full-time residency in Manhattan was quickly alleviated by purchasing DIRECTV in her home to watch live streams of the Yankees games, and discovering the pulse of D.C. “It’s so much more of a worldly city now than it was,” Giannetti said, referring to her recent profile of Arena Stage Artistic Director Molly Smith. “Back in the 70’s, …[the Arena] was the only game in town. Now there are seventy theaters.”
One of Giannetti’s favorite activities is interviewing and profiling interesting, successful women on her site. In D.C. she was pleased to discover a “vibrant community of accomplished, professional women,” many of whose profiles she runs on both the NYC and D.C. links of “WAT.” She also offers a way for women just starting out to purchase a profile for themselves in her classified section, so that they can begin establishing an reputable on-line presence.
Though “WAT” has received prestigious New York Press Club Awards for the third year in a row—many of them earned by Giannetti herself—and prides itself on offering consistent, quality articles, about half of her staff are beginning writers whom she takes under her editorial wing. Since many of the traditional avenues for earning one’s journalistic chops have all but disappeared, Giannetti likens “WAT” to a kind of “Journalism 101.”
Having doubled its scope as well as boasting a weekly enewsletter with over thirty thousand subscribers, “Woman Around Town” has achieved no small success. Giannetti would love to see “WAT” cover every major city, starting with Miami, and hopes to attract some national advertising to allow this. Her more immediate goal is to establish a directory for the catalog of growing articles, so that if a reader wants to find a restaurant, say, in Dupont Circle, she can find it with a simple click of the mouse. She would love readers of the Fuze newsletter to visit the site, and give feedback and comments. And, of course, sign up for the enewsletter to keep informed about the happenings.