Head of SOCIAL MEDIA at CNN, Samantha Barry, tells us about COVERING the U.S. ELECTION, her favourite NEW YORK spots, and why IRISH FOOD is something to be proud of…
The last twelve months have been a whirlwind for Samantha Barry, who spent much of her time on the campaign trail covering the US presidential election for CNN Worldwide. The Cork native came to the role via stints at RTÉ 2FM and Newstalk in Dublin and in London at BBC World News.
“I landed in New York in September 2014 and couldn’t imagine coming to CNN at a more exciting time,” she says. “We’ve just been through one of the most dramatic election cycles in US history and social media has been at the core of it. I noticed my Irish friends were using private messaging apps to share news so we launched CNN on Facebook Messenger, LINE and Kik in July as an experiment. We are now the largest news brand across those three platforms.”
Travelling the length and breadth of the country to conventions in Cleveland and Philadelphia and debates in Michigan, Miami and Las Vegas, Barry and her innovative team created groundbreaking news content for social media. “We sat down with each candidate and took their portraits for Instagram – those images became iconic and went on to appear everywhere. We also shot the candidates in vertical video for Snapchat. They were definite pinch-me moments,” she says.
After two years, the novelty of living in New York has yet to wear off for Barry, who is also a guest lecturer at Yale and a Sulzberger Fellow at Columbia University. “It doesn’t get old – I feel like I’m in a movie sometimes when I’m walking down the street,” she says. “I love the spontaneity of New York. I love that you can call someone and 20 minutes later be having brunch with them. There are a lot of key Irish tech and media players in Manhattan, people like Darragh Hickey, the co-founder of Web Summit, and Laura Whitmore, who comes here a lot.”
At last year’s Web Summit in Dublin, Barry made it her mission to introduce a team of American CNN executives to the best of Irish cuisine. “I took them to lunch at Avoca and dinner at The Winding Stair. They all went home raving about Irish food,” she laughs.
Barry has now found her favourite spots in New York too: “If I’m spoiling myself, I’ll go to The Polo Bar for cocktails and the Irish woman in me loves The Hudson Hound, which serves great food and has a cosy snug. I just became a member of Soho House too so I’m looking forward to spending the summer at the rooftop pool.”
West Chelsea is where Barry calls home, in a cottage that sounds straight out of a Nancy Meyers film. “It’s the basement of a carriage house,” she explains. “It has the charm of an English country cottage in the heart of Manhattan, and it’s brimming with character.” But it’s to her parents home in Bantry where she goes to fully unplug – whether she likes it or not. “They don’t have any phone signal at their house,” she says. “I always end up going for runs – I literally run a mile to get a signal!”
Could anything tempt her back to Ireland permanently? “I love going home, and it’s a big part of who I am, but I don’t see myself working in Ireland again. You have to be tough and competitive to survive in New York but I am tough and competitive. The buzz here gets me up in the morning. My siblings are both living abroad too – we’re a family held together by Skype.”
This article appeared in a previous issue, for more features like this, don’t miss our February issue, out Thursday, February 2.
Love LOOKTHEBUSINESS.ie? Sign up to our MAILING LIST now for a roundup of the latest career advice, networking events and interviews.