The Lady Behind the Meme

Since her blog went up during the second debate at Hofstra University, Veronica De Souza, social media expert, creator of the Tumblr Binders Full of Women, and new media sensation has made the media rounds. 
Muck Rack snagged De Souza on Thursday, who is herself a Hofstra alum, to ask what life has been like in the last two days since the debate and where she plans to take the blog next.

Muck Rack: How early were you up this morning?
De Souza: I woke up at 6:00 a.m. CNN sent a car for me at 6:20. I’m beat.
Muck Rack: I believe it! But that’s so terrific. So far you’ve been on CNN, NPR, Mashable and WSJ wrote about you. Am I missing anyone else?
De Souza: The Awl! That one was my favorite. I read them and The Hairpin every day so I was fan-girling super hard when I saw they wrote about my blog.
Muck Rack: That’s the best! What do you think about the whole thing two days in?
De Souza: Well I’m definitely less freaked out. Yesterday was one of the craziest days I’ve had in a while. My phone was blowing up, my e-mail inbox kept filling up and it was so hard to keep up with the submissions to the Binders blog. By 10:00 p.m. I locked my computer away because I couldn’t look at it anymore.
Muck Rack: Who was calling and e-mailing…besides me and every other journalist you’ve ever met?
De Souza: Haha, journalists, people with submissions, people saying they love/hate the blog, people who wanted my resume, my mom reminding me to pay my phone bill.

Muck Rack: Let’s talk about you getting laid off. I’m so sorry to hear it. But tell me how the Tumblr has been helping you with getting a new one.
De Souza: My followers on Tumblr and Twitter pretty much doubled after the blog launched. I decided to throw it out there that I was looking for a job in social media. I had some people reach out to me via Twitter and Linkedin. Nothing solid has happened yet but I have my fingers crossed!
Muck Rack: That’s terrific. I saw that Soledad O’Brien gave you an awesome shout out on air!
De Souza: Yes! I was actually shaking. I was so nervous. But once the conversation started I felt more at ease. The round table definitely helped.
Muck Rack: I couldn’t tell you were nervous at all. Did your past experience on radio help with that?
De Souza: Maybe. I don’t mind public speaking at all, the lights and cameras just kind of freak me out also this whole thing is very political, even though I didn’t intend it to be. I actually got into an argument during an interview this morning with a conservative talk show host on the Rush Limbaugh station in Philly. Not sure of the call letters.
     A friend of mine works on his show and asked me if they could interview me. I agreed (not knowing what was coming) and I pretty much walked into a complete attack on the blog and crazy accusations about my “agenda.” This insane meme has turned into a political thing but it was not started that way. I simply thought that the idea of having binders full of women was funny so I made it into a blog. There is no agenda, I’m not part of the “war on women” (I’ve heard that one a bunch!) and I’m certainly not trying to make any statement other than “the idea of women being in binders is silly and funny.”

Muck Rack: This is a really interesting point. I noticed on the CNN interview that it almost seemed like you were explaining how internet culture works to the outside world. Do you think that when taking things from the internet and bringing out into traditional media, meaning tends to get lost? (That may have been leading…)
De Souza: I think that’s exactly right. I had to explain what a meme was to several reporters yesterday. It was so hard to do because I’m just used to people knowing what I’m talking about when I say “meme” and I think it’s hard for traditional media to accept that I made this blog because I thought it was funny.
Muck Rack: It makes sense just a bit since the campaigns have been trying to bring humour into the election this time around.
De Souza: That’s true.

Muck Rack: What do you think about the divide between internet journalism and traditional media? I’m only asking because your Tumblr is straddling both right now.
De Souza: I honestly don’t understand why there is a divide. There shouldn’t be. I think that the difference between traditional media and online journalism is what is deemed newsworthy. EVERYTHING is news now. Your cat being stuck in a tree is news on the internet because its the news that’s important to you.
     In traditional media, I’ll use TV as an example, you have a time limit - that’s when you have to pick what’s important and what isn’t. I obviously prefer online journalism because I think it’s more of a fair ground, where all issues and all news is important and “newsworthy.”
Muck Rack: So are you saying that online people decide what’s newsworthy as opposed to producers deciding it for them?
De Souza: To an extent. I mean obviously not every single bit of news is covered on the internet but you can get more from it. And as a consumer you have the ability to seek out the information you want and get multiple sources. That’s not something you get from TV or radio.

Muck Rack: Speaking of time restraints, what are your plans for Binders Full of Women. Do you think it’ll keep going or are you planning to put a stop to it like Texts From Hillary?
De Souza: I’m not really sure. Right now I’m going over submissions and choosing the best ones. I think it’s something that will die on its own. I kind of want to let it run its course. I don’t want to monetize the blog because I don’t feel right about it. I feel like it’s tacky. 
Muck Rack: Are you still making any new posts now or just posting submissions?
De Souza: Honestly, I haven’t had time. I have so many submissions. There are 3000 sitting in the inbox right now. It’s insane.

Muck Rack: And what do you hope comes out this for you?
De Souza: I really just want a new job.
Muck Rack: Any preferences? I know you love social media.
De Souza: Yeah, I’m looking for something in community/social media at a media company. I just love news, media and pop culture so much and I’d love to be able to work in that kind of environment full time.
(Full disclosure: Veronica De Souza is a friend of the writer.)

  1. deliapaunescu reblogged this from muckrack and added:
    I interviewed internet sensation Veronica De Souza about Binders Full of Women and her newfound media fame.
  2. muckrack posted this