Interview: Tim Burrowes, Editor and Publisher of mUmBRELLA


TIM BURROWES loves blogs. He loves them so much he admits to almost getting fired from his job in Dubai in 2004 from being so fascinated by the vast array of information they offer. The renegade of the media industry has fast become one of Australia's most prominent media commentators. 

He has previously worked in London and Dubai as an editor of media orientated magazines as well as editor and associate publisher of Australian B&T magazine. Yet two years ago, Tim decided to go out on his own and start his website mUmBRELLA, which focuses on the media and marketing industry in Australia.  Since then, he has had over 3.8 million hits, branched into his online weekly video show The mUmBO Report, weekly podcasts, hired 6 people and has over 20,000 email subscribers. The website also has a great jobs section (note to readers!) that has listed over 8000 jobs in two years.

It is no secret on this blog, that I am an avid reader on mUmBRELLA. The content gets me excited and I always find something interesting on the website to read, along with learning a lot how about the media and marketing industry shape themselves. I was also lucky enough to meet Tim at the mUmBRELLA Question Time breakfast in late October this year - it is always exciting when you meet someone you look up to - and he was very friendly and kind.

The thing that strikes me about Tim is his honest and supportive nature through his site. There is something very fun and almost cheeky about the way he comments upon different issues in the media industry - it makes for entertaining reading and gives you something to think about. He is also not afraid for his website to be controversial which adds to how interesting it is. 

Why and how did you become a journalist/publisher?
I stumbled into a local newspaper at the age of 18 as a junior reporter, planning on doing it for a year or so before going to university. I never went.

Why are you passionate about the media and marketing industry with mUmBRELLA?
There are many good rounds to have as a journalist, but when you write about media, you write about your own world. It’s interesting at any time, but with so much change happening right now, there’s no more interesting subject to cover.

What's it like being your own boss? What makes you get out of bed every day?
As a journalist, particularly once you become an editor, you are effectively your own boss, even if you do technically have one. So although this is the first time I’m one of the owners, it’s not the first time I’ve had freedom to steer the editorial ship as I see fit. The best thing? You get to make things happen. The worst? If it’s no good, it’s your own fault.

What have been some of the best things you have got to do in your career so far?
Too many to list. This profession gave me the opportunity to work in Australia, for which I’ll always be grateful. But overall, the best thing about journalism is that (on behalf of your readers) you get a front row seat, you get to ask people in power in questions and (generally) they feel they should answer them.

The old cliched question but you are one clever guy , we would love know, what is your advice to others who want to get into the media industry?
Do whatever you can to give somebody a reason to hire you – that means writing whenever you can (certainly blogging if nothing else), and when you spot opportunities, be persistent. If you sit back, somebody pushier than you will get the opportunity.
And when you get the foot in the door, work hard to exceed expectations for whatever it is you’ve been asked to do. You need to prove to the editor that you can deliver whatever it is you were asked to – it’s not enough to have a good reason why you tried hard but didn’t deliver what was asked. Find a way to get the story.

And if you are looking for an excellent insight into how he works and online media, check out this video by Telstra (love his t shirt too): 

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