Steph Panecasio, Associate Editor at CNET on lessons learned in journalism

Steph Panecasio, Associate Editor at CNET on lessons learned in journalism

Starting out in the media industry can often feel daunting. Journalists are faced with mounting deadlines, dwindling newsroom resources and a growing demand for content from digital audiences. But according to CNET's Associate Editor, Steph Panecasio, implementing some simple guidelines at the beginning of a career can help to ensure any journalist is prepared and agile, despite what the job throws at them. 

Steph has spent almost a decade in the media industry and shares some tips from her time in media to ensure new and aspiring journalists have the tools to succeed in the industry. 

Preparing for a job interview
Whenever you go for a job interview, come equipped with at least three to five pitches that are catered to that outlet, even if they don't ask for it in the invite. Not only will it show initiative, but it will demonstrate your understanding of the brand and what they publish.

Time management
Use a task management program like Trello or Asana to keep track of everything you're doing. The early days are the prime time for finding a time management system that works for you, and with newsrooms being as fast as they are, you'll want to come prepared.

Back up your stories
Treat your work like a video game with permadeath: Save early, save often. Whether you write directly into the newsroom's CMS or not (some will say you absolutely shouldn't, but that comes down to personal preference) make sure you have duplicates of the work you've done, just in case. No journalist has ever made it all the way through their career without accidentally losing some of their work - make it harder to do so.

Know when to say "No"
Respect your own time. When you're young, a lot of places will expect you to go above and beyond for them, and sometimes, that places an expectation of frequently working outside your regular responsibilities and hours. If it feels unreasonable, it probably is. Don't let yourself be taken advantage of just because you're new.

Adapt to change
Stay agile with your development - the way we distribute and source news changes frequently, with new platforms popping up all the time. Take opportunities to learn more about them, get insights, muck around with them a bit yourself. TikTok is a growing haven for journalists seeking to reach Gen Z, don't discount it. Recognise that motivation comes in waves, and it's okay to have days where it all goes to sh*t.

Be kind to yourself
At the beginning of your career, it's easy to go hard and fast because you're driven, but especially with a global pandemic and working from home, it can be hard to keep championing yourself and pushing to achieve. Don't take that as a failing if you aren't feeling up to it some days. That doesn't mean you aren't a good journalist, it just means you're processing.

Avoid comparisons
Comparing yourself to other journalists is a lesson in self-sabotage. Yes, journalism jobs aren't as easy to come by, but that doesn't mean your fellow journos are inherently your rivals. Boost each other up, recognise that we're all in different places in our careers and stop comparing your progress.

Invest in transcription software
On a more practical note, I'd also suggest that people should invest in good transcribing software. As a long form feature writer, transcribing hour-long interviews is the bane of my existence. It's the one expense I will always vouch for - save yourself that time.

Seek mentorship
If you appreciate and enjoy someone's work, reach out! At minimum, it will make their day, but if they've got the time you could eventually broach the topic of mentoring. The mentors I've had over the past few years have literally changed my life - they helped me feel prepared, capable and ready, even when I was crippled with impostor syndrome. I can't stress the value of that enough, and I can't wait to be able to do the same for others.

Answers submitted by Steph Panecasio, Associate Editor, CNET

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