When Shanna Fuld was in kindergarten, she declared in a class project she wanted to be an author when she grew up. A few years later, another class project required someone to host a school TV and her arm quickly went up.
Now the host and creator of the Israel Daily News Podcast, writer of a weekly newsletter and researcher on a Showtime series, Fuld has fulfilled all her childhood dreams — and then some.
Born and raised in Queens, New York, Fuld often traveled to Israel with her parents to visit her aunt, who moved there when she was 25. As a Jewish woman, it was a place that always meant independence to her, inspiring Fuld’s own move at the age of 24.
“My mom was very free with me there,” she says. “I think, despite growing up in New York City where there’s a huge Jewish community, I recognized I was other. I recognized there was so much confusion about me asking for a cheeseburger without the cheese, because Jews don’t eat meat and milk together. … As I got older and yearned to be in a place where my Judaism could take a backseat to my identity. Here in Israel, I can be my whole full self and I can be a journalist and I can also be a Jew, it’s just my lifestyle.
When Fuld started her podcast, she thought she’d get listeners from the East Coast of the United States, in part because that’s where she’s from and because she thought she’d have listeners from similar backgrounds.
“I have so many Christian listeners,” she says. “I have Muslim listeners. I have Israeli listeners, who are Hebrew-speaking but choose to listen to my show because it’s short, 10-15 minutes. Sixty-five percent of my listeners are currently in the United States but not just on the East Coast. I have a lot in Texas, I have in California, I have in Florida, people from all over, from everywhere. Someone reached out from New Amsterdam. …Name a place and I have a listener there.”
Fuld’s podcast goes out five days a week, with 10-15 minute episodes released Monday through Wednesday and a longer episode on Thursdays, as the Arab world begins its weekend on Friday.
Additionally, Fuld also will live report on Instagram as events demand — she’s recently been going to protests at night to provide on-the-ground information about political action in Tel Aviv. Most of her audience for her Instagram account comes from her podcast, but she can often trace an influx of new followers to a report she did there or in her capacity as a freelancer for the Jerusalem Post.
On Sundays, Fuld sends out a newsletter, usually including some personal thoughts and reflections. It was through her newsletter that she landed her latest job, as a researcher for the Showtime production of “Ghosts of Beirut,” a docudrama about the death of a Hezbollah leader killed in a joint operation between the CIA and Mossad.
Fuld had been sent by the Jerusalem Post to cover the premiere of a different show, written by journalist Avi Issacharoff. She met him and told him how much she enjoyed his work, then “boldly” added his email to her newsletter list.
“Unbeknownst to me, he had been opening them and reading them,” she says. “He knew I was a journalist and he knew I had skills, so I was the person he reached out to, but this was for a different program. The original one wasn’t a go, something else got selected he had been shopping around two years later. I had been keeping up with him. I followed up every month. Eventually we got to work together and it was like doing a big journalistic work for six months.”
Despite some initial learning curves — “No deadlines. Can you imagine? I’m asking for deadlines.” — Fuld was energized and excited by the new task of researching a historically-based show.
“This was my first non-news TV research. I was hitting the nail on the head slowly and slowly and slowly. I didn’t have any response. I was reading books, taking notes, hoping people were reading my notes. When I saw the final product, I said, ‘OK, I guess they read the book report, I guess they read the little nugget.’”
Shanna Fuld, creator and host of the Israel Daily News Podcast, talks about the day-to-day challenges of being a freelance journalist in Tel Aviv. She also discusses her recent work as a researcher for the Showtime docudrama series “Ghosts of Beirut.”