Turn Your Critical Lens Inward
A Q&A with SRCCON:POWER speaker Rachel Schallom
SRCCON:POWER is coming up in just a few days, on December 13 and 14. Before then, we’re previewing the speakers selected to talk at the event. Here’s our Q&A with editor and writer Rachel Schallom, who’ll be speaking about how power plays out in industry news. She’ll speak alongside media reporter Ben Mullin.
Rachel Schallom on How Industry Coverage Affects Power Imbalances in Journalism
Would you introduce yourself to our readers, please?
I’m the managing editor at VICE, and I write a biweekly column for Poynter on women and journalism called The Cohort. This will be my third SRCCON event. Ever since I started my career, I’ve consumed media industry news daily, learning a lot about interesting people and projects. I wanted to write The Cohort because I wanted a way to extend the conversations I was having informally with the female and non-binary journalists around me to a wider audience, and I’ve thought a lot about what that means for the greater audience as I choose topics, journalists, and work to highlight.
Can you tell us more about why this topic is so vital right now? If we’re not covering the industry or our own news organizations with a critical lens, what is the cost? What’s at stake?
The diversity numbers in newsrooms aren’t moving as quickly as they should be. Hiring within the journalism industry is, for the most part, broken, and it’s so critical to know the right people. Job seekers are often required to know of the right opportunities before they are even posted. We’re an industry where your brand matters, and personal brands are built on many things—the work you produce, your social media presence—including media attention. It matters who industry news covers because it’s likely to make a difference in that person’s career.
What are a few high-level takeaways from your talk that you wish everyone could hear, even if they can’t be in the room at SRCCON:POWER?
There are two things I want this session to touch on: The first is that we should be pushing industry news to be more diverse and to seek out people and projects outside the typical go-tos. The second is arming journalists with more information on how to pitch industry publications. This befuddled me early on in my career. I couldn’t figure out why cool work wasn’t getting the attention it deserved, and I think, for the most part, newsrooms don’t know how to reach out to brag on themselves and their journalists. Newsrooms need to be better at marketing, and it can be as simple as sending a good email to the right person.
I’m the managing editor for VICE and a biweekly columnist for Poynter. I write a weeklyish newsletter highlighting interesting things in digital journalism. I’ve been an adjunct professor teaching coding for journalism students and have spoken at national and international conferences. I was a member of the 2016 ONA-Poynter Leadership Academy for Women in Digital Media class and am part of the DigitalWomenLeaders.com initiative to provide free coaching for women in journalism.