Leading Millennials: Jenni Reid, The Economist

"If the job you want doesn’t exist, you can create it if you can prove it should."

Jenni Reid completed a BA in Theology and Religious Studies and an MA in Newspaper Journalism before starting on The Economist’s social media team in 2015. Originally from Bristol, England, she enjoys writing about religion, Asia, and most of all, religion in Asia. She appears here as part of our stories to identify the evolving generation of professionals in the service of journalism.

What do you love about what you do?

I love that I have the scope to pitch new ideas, day-to-day experimentation and thinking about what big projects the team can work on that will shape the future of digital and social publishing.

The instant interaction with readers that comes from working on social media is a constant buzz (and source of terror). The hive mind of Facebook commenters is a fiercer critic than any editor, but it’s a great feeling when you see something you’ve made spark an interesting debate, receive positive feedback, or when a commenter sticks up for your post.

I also love working with really intelligent editors and writers who are experts in their field and showing them how digital and social media can enhance what they do and bring it to new audiences.


Where do you struggle most?

I am a people pleaser by nature so I sometimes find it hard not to take criticism too personally. I am constantly trying to imitate my colleagues who aren’t fazed by an idea being shot down.

I also really want to get better (or rather, in any way competent) at coding and struggle to motivate myself to do so!


What do you think the next 3 years look like for you?

Unpredictable — even in the year I’ve been working in journalism and social media I can see how much it has changed, from the way it is treated by newsrooms as an integral part of daily life to the way it is consumed. Many people I know in this field have worked as ‘traditional’ reporters and are now using those skills in social. I would love to do the reverse and use what I have learnt about social in my reporting.


What is the biggest thing you know today that you didn’t know a year ago?

Journalism is not an impossible field to break into. There are points at which it seems like an impenetrable wall of unpaid internships in expensive cities and people with family contacts who can sneak them into the industry.

But as cliché as it sounds, my experience and that of those on my course has been that if you work hard, keep trying and get good advice from the right people (who are usually more than happy to give it via email, in person or on Twitter!), you can get that first break that sets you on the right path. Especially when there are so many new roles being created.

On that note, also that if the job you want doesn’t exist, you can create it if you can prove it should.

If we’re sitting here a year from now celebrating what a great year it’s been for you, what would be some of those things you would want to celebrate?

Having worked on a project I think is truly innovative and important. Feeling fulfilled by my work. Fostering good relationships with and being respected by my co-workers.


What are the top 3 things that would motivate you in a job?

Seeing my work make a positive impact on something, whether as small as informing people about a new topic or as big as changing the dialogue around that issue.

Being inspired by co-workers and a supportive team.

Having the time to do my job well, but also to think beyond my day-to-day tasks about projects for the future and how I can improve.


As a professional, what scares you about the future?

Not having the kind of security and benefits that come from having a very long-term job with a clear-cut career progression. Since journalism and social media are changing so fast, the idea of staying in one job or at one organization for decades does not appeal to me. I want to find out what I am best suited to and I enjoy doing. But that comes with a level of uncertainty about what the future holds.

Like most people who spend too much time on Twitter and Facebook, it’s hard not to worry about the ‘post-truth’ era and the number of people who say things to me like ‘What’s really the point of journalists? I get all my news from Facebook now.’ Reminding people of its value in any small way I can is an intimidating and scary task.


What’s the best advice you’ve ever received from a boss?

Know what you are good at and show people, don’t tell them. And if you don’t know what you are good at, ask your friends or co-workers. I’ve only recently learnt the value of sitting down and thinking about what I most enjoy and what I wouldn’t feel embarrassed to tell people my strengths are.


Leading Millennials

We’re looking for people with an elasticity in their views of media and journalism. It’s rare.

The faces of people in the service of journalism are often found on stage. They are often the heads of their newsrooms. They are often men. There’s little space on stage for the younger people sitting further down the hierarchy of these newsrooms. I want to tell their stories because some of them could one day redefine this industry.

So if you want to be featured here (or know of someone who should), drop me an email. I’m alansoon@splicemedia.com.

Co-Founder, Splice Media. Supporting media startups in Asia. Follow Alan Soon on Twitter.

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