carla zanoni headshot Every week we ask a leading figure in digital news about their work, their career and what it takes to be a journalist in the 21st century.

Our guest this week is Carla Zanoni, executive emerging media editor, at The Wall Street Journal. She tells us how she got started in the industry and why being comfortable with experimentation is important in her role.

What is your job title and what does that mean?

Executive emerging media editor. I oversee our global audience engagement and development, newsroom analytics, and emerging platforms.

In addition to working on social engagement and reporting around big stories, we manage our social footprint, which includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, This., The List, Snapchat, LINE, WhatsApp, and many more platforms. The team also recently launched The Wall Street Journal on Snapchat Discover.
How did you get started in journalism?
I began as a print journalist covering metro New York for various newspapers. I led the way for several publications to develop their digital footprint in the early 2000s before starting my own successful blog about Upper Manhattan.

There I mastered using social media to build an audience and engage with my readers, and later brought those skills to DNAinfo New York and Chicago, where I grew from my role as a neighbourhood reporter to leading their social and digital strategy.

I joined the Wall Street Journal as an audience development director in 2014.
What do you most look forward to at the start of your day?
I need to be informed as soon as I wake up, so I grab my phone and see what’s happened overnight. Working with a global team means there is always news developing.

I also check our Snapchat Discover channel to see what spot news the team in London has created in addition to the news we lay out the night before in New York City. Our coverage can range from market moving news to updates on a global health warning like that around the Zika virus.   

What does a normal day look like for you? In emoji.


What three tools or apps do you use most for work and why?
  • Nuzzel: This is a great discovery tool that shows me what my friends and contacts are sharing. The newsletter is great, but the app is even better.
  • Slack: This tool has really helped unite our disparate global team of audience and emerging media editors and helps cut down on email, which is a good thing.
  • Pocket: Throughout the day I open dozens of tabs on my laptop with plans to read the great articles I find. At the end of the day, I save any articles I haven’t read to Pocket, a great mobile bookmarking tool, and read them on my subway ride home.  
What would you focus on if you were training as a journalist now and why?
Learn how to talk and listen to your audience. Some journalists I know would prefer to not think about who is reading their content as long as their stories get clicks.

But the more you know about your audience, the better you will be able to serve them – the most important mission of creating journalism each and every day.
What skills do you think are important to your role and why?

Know how to fail fast and to thine own self be true. My role requires a level of comfort with experimentation, exploration of new tools, storytelling and engagement methods.

We are always trying out new tools and platforms. In order to be successful, I need to know when to prioritise resources in the newsroom to experiment and when to pull the plug.

Having a good sense of the essence of The Wall Street Journal is very important here. We want to experiment, but only when it makes sense for us as a newsroom.
What has your current job taught you about the industry?
Although the mechanics of delivering journalism have radically changed over the past couple of decades, its principles remain. Readers value good writing and factual reporting.

A story might look and feel different when it’s told on social media or through a 360-degree camera, but the basics haven’t changed.
What would you say to someone applying to work at your organisation?
Do your homework. The Wall Street Journal is home to some of the smartest people in the world.
What is the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Follow your gut. My gut has never steered me wrong.

 Check back next week for a new look into the media industry – in the meantime, you can read through our other weekly interviews with digital media experts.

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