Name Professional: Staci Parks
Profession: Online Managing Editor
Company: D Magazine
Date of Interview: 9/30/16
In my interview with Ms. Staci Parks of D Magazine, I was hoping to learn more about the inner workings and principles of writing strictly online. As she manages the online aspects of several channels on the D Magazine website, she has experience covering a multitude of subjects; I was eager to hear about how writing on each of these subjects differs and how publishing the story online affects it.
From the interview, I learned the importance of compassion and empathy when communicating with emotionally fragile or vulnerable sources. Ms. Parks shared with me her experiences in covering crime, including some of her more unpleasant encounters. She detailed how, as a journalist, one must be able to assess the situation and use better judgement before asking for comments on a sensitive story. Especially in a crime, a source could be in mourning, in a state of shock, or hysterical, and will most likely not be willing to talk to you in the midst of a traumatic situation that has affected them and those close to them. But, crime or not, it is crucial to have the right balance of compassion and objectivity when covering the details of any story. I plan on applying the element of sensitivity in the future as I write stories and gather sources for them; I will allow time for the source to grow comfortable with the situation as well as with me asking them about it. I will show compassion and let the source know that I really do care about them and their side of the story, and that they are not just a pair of quotation marks in an article.
Not only did I gain knowledge on communication in the field, but I also learned about how writing online has much tighter deadlines, a significantly more frequent release of information, and a shorter period of interest among readers. Ms. Parks detailed how she publishes at least once a day on each online channel about a breaking story or ongoing topic of interest in that field. People reading online articles are looking for quick information telling them what they need to know, whereas people picking up a print magazine are in search of an in-depth analysis of a story filled with dialogue, images, and impeccable writing skills. This made me question which of those styles of writing I would rather pursue in my mentorship- I will need to carefully consider this when choosing my mentor. Ms. Parks also shared with me some of what she considers to be the most important skills to have in journalism; grammar, willingness to question things, and accuracy (staying true to the facts). This was beneficial to me in my ISM study because I can now work on improving these skills early in order to be more successful in my future endeavors. It also made me question how, and by what means, journalists stay true to the facts. While I know that there are sometimes specific individuals whose job it is to fact check, that is rarely the case in a publication; how am I to learn how to do this? This question gave way to a possible research topic for upcoming assessments.
Ms. Parks was incredibly helpful in providing me valuable information about online journalism. Because so many print publications are moving online now, and it appears that that is where the industry is headed, I plan on looking further into its logistics and requirements as I advance into my journalism future.