June 29, 2021

Professional Writer at Work: Interview with Janie Ho, Senior Editor of Growth and Audience Development at the New York Daily News

Janie Ho is the Senior Editor of Growth and Audience Development at the New York Daily News, a daily newspaper and digital news organization that is part of Tribune Publishing company (Chicago Tribune, Baltimore Sun, Orlando Sentinel, and more). Prior to this role, Janie was a Global Account Analyst at LinkedIn & a journalist for New York Mag, CBS News, ABC News, and BusinessWeek. She was also a relationship writer for GQ China, from New York City, and has consulted with several dating apps about online dating. In her consulting work, Janie combines tech, creative, and writing skills to train companies in content creation and marketing in industries from finance to hospitality.

Describe your current role and your daily professional tasks and responsibilities.

I manage the New York Daily News’ audience team and 10+ growth products for our digital realm. I work with both Daily News editorial leadership and Tribune business and editorial leadership to grow our work and find new opportunities and audiences.

At the Daily News, my team oversees quite a bit for nearly 24/7 regular and breaking news coverage, including homepage & website copy, e-newsletters, mobile app, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Reddit, TikTok, breaking news alerts, smart-speaker briefs, podcast and some others I can't remember right now. 

All 150 or so stories (and issues) that we publish a day from the newsroom's 8 different units run through me and my team. I aggregate key metrics for pageview and subscription goals and present at twice-daily editorial leadership meetings, including the afternoon meetings to determine the next day's front page of the paper.  

What advice would you give to a professional writer interested in a career like yours?

In my experience, only a few people are really into their work. They'll ask questions. They'll contact you off-hours. They’ll talk about new ideas or drafts in-progress. My advice is to be one of those people. Find work that you are excited about and find ways to write about it. For the topics you care about, do the research on the companies, people, events, industry news, meetups, social media chatter, etc. Make it a daily habit to consume social or content in these areas and reach out to people in those areas, engage with that content with smart insight, and connect.  And always, always offer help and ideas. Use what you learn to network, pitch, and present yourself and your portfolio. 

In your role and industry, how important is collaboration? With whom do you collaborate?

Collaboration can seem scary at first. It's very hard to work with others not knowing who's going to carry what, and which of your ideas won't make it through. But that's what work is now, full-time and as a freelancer. You will always be collaborating. And that’s a good thing, really, because it adds different perspectives and --when you trust your team-- it lets you hand things off to the people best suited for the work. In audience development, we work with the whole newsroom (content creators, writers, editors and reporters) and everyone on the business-side (sales, marketing, product, vendors and leadership). It's all collaboration, all the time.

What do you look for in assessing potential new hires?

I’ve hired for junior roles, senior roles, full-time and freelance positions. The most basic tip I can give is: Be respectful of your interviewer’s time. Aim to balance being grateful for the interview with being enthusiastic for the role and their consideration of you as a candidate, the company, and industry trends. This also means researching what that company is doing in your area, and exactly how you can fit in to make their team succeed.

Remember that it's all about the company. So when you share your portfolio pieces or talk about your past experiences, make sure you connect it to the role you are applying to. And strive to quantify your work and results. How have you measured the success of a piece or your role in an experience? Can you tell your interviewer about the goal, the impact, the reach, and the response? Being able to write and being able to quantify results will help make you stand out as an applicant.

Is there anything else you would like to share?

Writing and creative careers are not always easy. These careers require work to cultivate at the beginning, in the middle, and in senior positions. But you will find great joy and reward in it.  When I was starting out, someone told me: “You have a front seat to the world.” And they were right. I've had my front seat; I’ve moved to the back row; and now I watch from the control room with a bird's eye view.  And I'm still enjoying the ride.  

I also really enjoy meeting people, so feel free to connect on my LinkedIn, my about.me, or my website.  I’m also including a link to my recent AMA Session with Online Geniuses, the Largest Slack Community for Marketers.

Thank you to Janie Ho for sharing her professional writing journey with us.

To learn more about the MS in Professional Writing program at NYU School of Professional Studies, visit sps.nyu.edu/mspw

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