Marilin Gonzalo is a journalist at Jefa de Producto.
WHAT LED YOU TO START WORKING IN DIGITAL/MEDIA PUBLISHING?
During my last year of university, I had been working in all kinds of legacy media (TV, radio, and printed press) and started tampering with computers and the internet. Shortly after, personal blogs started thriving and I just couldn’t understand why journalists were not on the internet, there was such an ideal environment to publish whatever you wanted. Not many people knew what the internet was then, and they saw us as some kind of spoiled freaks that were just having fun. And I had fun, indeed, I spent hours, days and months sitting in front of screens learning new skills and also basically learning that you could do many things there and you didn’t have to ask an editor to have something published. That was my way to gain insight of the media when I didn’t have contacts or mentors in traditional printed media or when digital news media were just starting in Spain and in Argentina. Those publications were founded by people like me, who thought that there had to be a new way to do journalism in the internet times, away from old clichés and with eager to experiment and try new formats.
WHAT DOES A TYPICAL DAY LOOK LIKE FOR YOU?
I don’t have a typical day as my functions vary. Many days are full of meetings with the director, the editor, the advertising manager, the developers and design people, or people outside the newsroom, whom we work in new projects together.
Very early in the morning I always read the news — this has been like this since I was a teenager-, while I hear the radio and have breakfast. When I finish I have a list of things to work with our team that day. I’m also in constant communication with the developers and the newsroom as we talk a lot with the director and the editor in chief about the way we cover our information daily and how to keep improving the quality of our product. I’m always in charge of looking for the best experience for our users and implementing the best journalistic practices for our writers and editors. I also audit the metrics of our audience, produce reports, and recommend strategies to improve traffic and reach new users. This implies testing of software and services and usually talking with people from other companies to make agreements and see how we can work together.
I am a journalist and will never cease to be, so when I find an interesting issue, I do interviews and write pieces from time to time. I think it’s key that the product people of media business are journalists and have worked as journalists for them to be able to grasp the sense of what a newspaper is and its relationship with people.
WHAT’S YOUR WORK SETUP LOOK LIKE? (YOUR APPS, PRODUCTIVITY TOOLS, ETC.)
I’ve been testing new apps and tools for years, and I think I’ve refined my processes a lot. Usually what works for you doesn’t have to be the last trending productivity app but the one that you can really squeeze.
Currently I work a lot with email and docs, and we use the Google Suit in our company. I also use two great apps, nvalt and Simplenote as note-taking apps with markdown support. I use Pocket and Pinboard to read and save useful links, Telegram, Whatsapp, Mattermost, and Signal for messaging and groups; Trello to manage some projects. The productivity tools I use mostly depend on the project and the team I’m working with, but these are those I’ve been using for quite some time.
WHAT DO YOU DO TO GET INSPIRED?
My secret is books. I read a lot about different subjects, not only non-fiction which are my favorite but also try to get myself lost in fiction and other issues non-work related. I feel that we must stay curious about other realities. I also consume (too) many TV series and go to the cinema. When I’m having a writer’s block, I still get amazed that riding my bike for a half an hour works miracles.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE PIECE OF WRITING OR QUOTE?
Well this one is really hard, cause there are just too many. One of the books I’ve loved reading this year was “The Power” by Naomi Alderaan, in fiction. It’s an awesome novel of a utopian future written with so much sense of what’s going on in our world now with women, men, and generations.
For a quote, I love this one of Alice in Wonderland: “Alice: How long is forever? — White Rabbit: Sometimes, just one second.”
WHAT IS THE MOST INTERESTING/INNOVATIVE THING YOU HAVE SEEN ON ANOTHER OUTLET OTHER THAN YOUR OWN?
About design, I really like the fresh look that we can see in publications as The Outline, and the way they embrace the advertising making it really stand out without interfering with the usability of the site. About innovation, I find really innovative what the people of Politibot in Spain is doing with bots and journalism
WHAT IS THE PROBLEM THAT YOU’RE PASSIONATELY TACKLING AT THE MOMENT?
In small newsrooms like the one I’m in now the big challenge is to keep on raising our standards in journalism without losing audience. I also think that the business people has to really grasp the core of a newspaper, to understand the true value of a media company in order to sell it better, and the journalists have to understand the kind of industry we’re in; and I work everyday with that objective in mind. It’s in that intersection where the future of the media is being played now.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADVICE FOR AMBITIOUS DIGITAL PUBLISHING AND MEDIA PROFESSIONALS WHO ARE JUST STARTING OUT?
Keep curious and keep learning, everything will be useful in the long run. Talk to many people and don’t be shy to ask questions. This world keeps changing a lot and a rigid mind has no place in it. First of all, respect the reader (or your audience), and think of them as smart people as you think of yourself. That’s always the right path.