Qwestion & Answer with Olivia Oran, Deputy Executive Editor, Subscriptions at Business Insider

Madelynne Kislovsky October 1, 2020

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Business Insider Deputy Executive Editor Olivia Oran smiling at the camera.

Cornell University graduate Olivia Oran helps lead Business Insider’s consumer subscriptions offering from within the newsroom while overseeing several teams of reporters and editors who cover topics including finance, markets, investing, healthcare and legal. Oran also works closely with her colleagues in data, marketing, and partnerships to collaboratively strategize on the best ways to grow and keep Business Insider subscribers. Before joining Business Insider, Oran was a reporter at Reuters covering Wall Street and M&A. After years of chasing scoops and the birth of her first child, Oran’s career path took a turn to help expand and shape BI’s subscriptions unit, where she traded routine for excitement. “I feel so lucky they took a chance on me!” says Oran.

Q: What do you see as some of journalism’s biggest potential pitfalls? And what gives you hope for the future of journalism?

OO: Our newsrooms need to better reflect the diverse makeup of our country. For too long, the profession has been limited largely to people who graduate from specific colleges and those who can stomach relatively low pay at the beginning of their careers while living in some of the most expensive cities in the world. Between the Black Lives Matters movement and an openness to remote work that could lead to hiring journalists outside of locations like NYC, SF and LA, I’m hopeful that this moment will lead to substantive changes in the industry.

Q: Which aspects of your work do you find the most challenging? The most rewarding?

OO: The most rewarding aspect of my work is seeing our reporters craft impactful stories for our readers, such as our investigations into Bon Appetit and Wall Street firm BTIG. The challenge over the last few months, in addition to covering crucial stories around COVID-19, has been realizing that Business Insider is increasingly reliant on subscription revenue to support the public service of journalism that we provide. Do we drop the paywall on certain stories during times of crisis? Or do we keep it up to make sure we’re not missing out on valuable subscription revenue? Publishers have all made different decisions, and we’re constantly experimenting with ways of addressing this challenge.

Q: What advice would you give to aspiring young writers and reporters?

OO: Say yes to everything, even if you feel pushed outside your comfort zone. You’re not above any story that you’re assigned. Trust your editors. You’re not going to be writing 10,000 word investigations your first day on the job. Succeed at what you’re asked to do, and doors will open.

Q: What are some of the best practices from journalism’s past that you feel need to be utilized now?

OO: Always be skeptical and wary of sources’ motives when they’re telling you something. My favorite phrase: If your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Q: What learnings have made a tremendous difference in your career?

OO: Don’t be afraid of change and taking on new responsibilities, even if they don’t come at the “best” time. I moved over to Business Insider right after the birth of my first child, where I became a first-time manager instead of returning to a job where I had comfort and routine. It was by far the best career decision I could have made, even though it created more uncertainty in the short term.

Q: Where do you get YOUR news from? Which publications do you like to read?

OO: Big newsletter fan here. Axios, Morning Brew, Dealbook, The Daily Pitch, Quartz Daily Brief, Money Stuff, and Robinhood Snacks. For news about the media industry, I like the Atlantic’s The Idea, Neiman Lab’s Daily Digest, Digiday and CJR.

 

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