Qwoted is committed to exploring the current state of the media by speaking to industry leaders and educating future generations of media professionals. What has social media and technological innovation brought to the table? What can we expect for the future of journalism?
Monica Chin’s first writing job was in high school, as a summer intern of her hometown’s small local paper. She expanded into tech journalism as a reporting fellow at Mashable. Chin spent some time covering personal and home technology for Tom’s Guide and Business Insider, including wearables, laptops, mobile devices, and smart homes. After 2020’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES), Chin joined The Verge as a tech writer, reviewing laptops and covering laptop- and computing-related news. She also covers education technology and remote learning.
Which aspects of your work do you find the most challenging? The most rewarding?
MC: I’m in this business to help people find the right stuff to buy, and make sense of how to use it. Receiving emails or tweets from readers who found a review of mine helpful makes my day. If you ever read an article that helps you find a good product or fixes a problem, look up the author and let them know! There’s no better encouragement than the knowledge that your work has been useful to someone.
The profession of journalism feels more attacked today than in a long time, but also highly necessary. Do you feel that’s true, and if so, why?
MC: I don’t think there’s any doubt about the need for rigorous, accessible news when it comes to keeping the public informed and holding those in power accountable. But it’s important that journalists don’t deem themselves the sole guardians of free speech.
If there’s one thing you could change or improve about journalism—in any area—what might that be and why?
MC: We need more diverse newsrooms in tech journalism — especially more female writers of color.
What advice would you give to aspiring young writers and reporters?
MC: Don’t obsess over working at a big-name publication. I know some people who are only willing to apply to large, national publishers, and spend all their time doing intern work rather than building authority and expertise in a particular area. If you’re at a small publication doing exceptional work and becoming a leading reporter on your beat, people will see that, and all kinds of doors will be open to you.
What do you see as some of journalism’s biggest potential pitfalls? And what gives you hope for the future of journalism?
MC: Using headlines to distort the truth, or to misrepresent the content or thesis of a piece, in order to get more shares and clicks is a big pitfall of the current industry. We know it leads to misinformation and ultimately erodes trust.
There are so many incredibly talented young reporters out there that give me hope for the industry’s future, including some of my own colleagues. I’m especially inspired by the number of female and gender-minority journalists of color that I’ve met in this industry who are absolutely crushing their beats. I can’t wait to keep reading all the incredible work they’re going to do over the next many decades. There’s a ton to look forward to.
How do you think journalists and reporters should deal with the rising tide of misinformation?
MC: Being a trusted source doesn’t mean you’ll always please every reader. It means constantly challenging your own presumptions and biases, and rigorously checking over your facts.
What are some of the best practices from journalism’s past that you feel need to be utilized now?
MC: It’s been heartbreaking to see local print outlets struggling to survive in recent years and throughout the pandemic. Local news is so important and valuable, and informs much of my everyday reporting. Local news provides insight into, and places importance on, the issues most important to communities that national outlets can’t always provide. I’m hoping to see more investment in the area of local news.
What learnings have made a tremendous difference in your career?
MC: A college journalism professor of mine once told me, “make sure you get the dog’s name.” It’s stuck with me for so many years because it’s a great example of the level of detail a journalist should be going for when interviewing. Every time I talk to a source, I ask myself “What’s the ‘dog’s name’ in this story?” I’ve discovered a ton of random, funny details with that mindset that I think add something special to my reporting.