Telum Talks To... Eric Nicole Salta, Editorial Manager, Hinge Inquirer Publications
Share more about a day in your life (differences between pre-pandemic vs pandemic)?
Prior to the pandemic, life was a little more exciting obviously because I was immersed in all these different personal experiences with my colleagues and fellow creatives. There was also a bit of unpredictability in how each day pans out. Sometimes I had weeks or even days when I'm out of the office mostly because of events, shoots, and interviews.
Other times, my days would just entail working with the team in the office, editing stories, attending meetings, planning content, solving whatever setback is hampering us or if it's that time of the month, closing an issue. So I quite enjoyed the variety offered by the job itself as well as the people that I get to work with.
No two days are the same and even if it is a slow day, it doesn't feel like it because of the pace required of working in the industry. Now, after the pandemic struck, the entire thing has just shifted within the four walls of my room. Everything has gone digital. The workflow, the process, the routine. But in some ways, the adjustment has been easier since Hinge Inquirer Publications had already adopted remote work strategies way before the pandemic.
How did you get into journalism?
By accident! Seriously, I went to the university on enrolment day with no clear idea whatsoever of what I wanted to study. I knew that I excelled at biology in high school, but I couldn't stand the thought of dissecting flesh with scalpels or piercing organs even if it meant saving lives. It just wasn't for me. And then I saw one of the flyers and one program piqued my curiosity: broadcast journalism. I thought it sounded interesting and it wouldn't involve math (it did, sadly but only general subjects). But it wasn't until I joined the university student publication that everything fell into place. I think that's when I really gained a foothold in journalism and realised that it's something I could make a career out of. Fourteen freewheeling years later and here I am.
Tell us more about your role as Editorial Manager?
A lot of what I do is a combination of many things but it is actually being an Editor and a Manager at the same time, exactly like what my position suggests. A huge chunk involves editorial operations like managing the team, the budget and the assets; making sure that deadlines are met and the workload is evenly distributed; overseeing long-term and short-term goals and coming up with brand and content strategies; providing editorial direction and insights; and editing of course. You can't take editing out of me. It's second nature.
What I enjoy the most though is mentoring the team and sharing with them all the experience that I've gained throughout the years. Something about sharing everything you've learned to the younger generation fuels a kind of joy; it honours both your predecessors and the young guns. Like now, since I'm focused on Scout (Scoutmag.ph) and they're all so young and talented and keen on improving their craft, so it's genuinely exciting to be able to have a hand in their growth as editors and journalists.
What is your most memorable news or feature story?
Two particular stories come to mind. Both of which were when I was managing the foodservice brand F&B Report. The first was when I was on assignment in Coron, Palawan to write a story about Tagbanuan cuisine for our special travel issue. We flew there thinking it was going to be a straightforward feature, you know we'd arranged the accommodation and our contacts but without going too much into details, it didn't push through for reasons beyond our control so my photographer and I ended up tweaking our story and relying on our "nose for news" to patch together a narrative that could work. So we explored different themes organically and stitched together interviews, photos, and research materials to rework the feature. I mean, I didn't want to go back to my editor without a story after spending three days in Coron.
The next one was memorable in the sense that because my expertise is in lifestyle journalism, writing hard-hitting stories was a little trickier. Not that I couldn't do it though but my report on the effect of high fructose corn syrup imports on Negros sugar mills was a bit of a challenge since it involved interviewing key figures from the industry and sugar associations, poring over documents to analyze trends and understand the effects of tax reforms on the farmers and sugar mill owners, reviewing the history behind their concerns, and researching on relevant policies. Add to that the pressure of making sure we didn't miss our flight since the last interview took place about less than two or three hours before our flight back to Manila.
If you could interview anyone in the world, who would it be?
Timothée Chalamet just because he is the first that came to mind. I was having a conversation with someone about "Call Me By Your Name" earlier and I couldn't think of anyone else.
What’s your advice for those who are thinking of practising journalism?
Aside from the usual tenets of journalism, which is to be accurate and fair when writing stories, my advice would be to always have a point of view from outside the subject you're writing about. You'd be surprised at the kind of insights you'll gain from understanding principles that you normally wouldn't think of considering in the first place.