When Juliet Litman ’08 talks shop with co-workers, the discussion hits on the things everyone is talking about. Who shined at the Oscar Awards? Will Tom Brady win another Super Bowl? What’s the best show on Netflix right now?
She always figured she’d be an English professor, not a pop culture authority. But thanks to a nudge from her adviser, former Northwestern professor Brian T. Edwards, the American studies major took a job in media. Within a few years, she found a path that led her to The Ringer, the digital media company built by former ESPN star Bill Simmons in 2016 and then sold to Spotify.
A core member of The Ringer management team, Litman is a creative force in the making of daily pop culture and sports content and commentary that transcends fandom and wins over readers by being smart and going deep.
“Our ethos is to do your research,” she says. “Understand a team or a TV show as fully as possible, rather than just offering blind support. When you’re being critical of something you love, questioning the choices of a showrunner or the bench rotation of an NBA coach, you do it with context on how those decisions are made.”
The Ringer is known for casting a wide net. On any given day, you can find pieces that delve into the minutiae of Succession, NFL power rankings or the botched search for the next Jeopardy! host.
As head of production, Litman manages the more than 50 shows in the company’s vast podcast network. She hosts a few herself, including Bachelor Party, Jam Session and, occasionally, The Rewatchables, a roundtable of Ringer regulars who break down the movies we all watch again and again.
Some of her all-time favorites are the romantic comedies of Nora Ephron. An insomniac, Litman has fallen asleep hundreds of times to When Harry Met Sally, You’ve Got Mail or Sleepless in Seattle, what she calls good “middle of the night movies.”
“Plot is important, but warmth really gets me,” she says. “A story steeped in true character development, that’s what I love the most.”