Victoria Ho is a reporter based in Singapore. She’s worked at different newsrooms over the years, including The Business Times, ZDNet and Techcrunch — mostly reporting on technology. She’s currently the Asia editor at Mashable. The rest of her time is spent playing music with her band, or writing music for projects.
What do you love about what you do?
I love being able to tell a story to someone that enriches them. Even if it isn’t life-changing — if it’s an extra piece of information that helps them with a decision, or even just serves as an additional nugget of conversation later at dinner, it’s a service I’m always excited to get to provide.
Where do you struggle most?
Being able to let go of a story, probably. To make a call on what stories stay and what can’t fit in today, whether it’s because of space (for print) or just time. It’s hard to see someone else have the story and not you, and question the decisions you made earlier.
What do you think the next 3 years look like for you?
I hope to stay in digital publishing, and figure out how storytelling is changing online. Good journalism and good writing are staples, but consumption habits change, and focusing on new ways to carry the publication’s voice is always intriguing.
How do you figure out if you’re on the right track for your career?
I’ve made some really weird career choices so I clearly don’t have it all down. But in general I think about whether I’m proud of the work I put out, and whether I wake up keen to jump into work again. I am now (I’ve had jobs where I wasn’t) so at least for now, I think this is where I should be.
I used to think most people would Google the heck out of a story and be the first to call you out if you’re wrong, but so few people do that.
What is the biggest thing you know today that you didn’t know a year ago?
That readers believe everything on Facebook! Well, okay not all of them, but a shockingly large proportion. I’m talking well-educated, well-exposed folks, who are pretty susceptible to misinformation delivered on social media. I used to think most people would Google the heck out of a story and be the first to call you out if you’re wrong, but so few people do that.
What are the top 3 things that would motivate you in a job?
The opportunity and resources to produce something I’m proud to put my name on. Second, a positive company culture with a good team. And third, I admit that praise (from my bosses or readers) can be very gratifying!
Forums are great. All that unstructured chatting really helps me think about how to best approach a story, to tell it from start to end in as complete a way as possible.
Where do you find inspiration?
Videos and forums. As an editor that works mainly with traditional text, it can be helpful to let different forms of media like videos unwrap a story for you. And forums are great. All that unstructured chatting really helps me think about how to best approach a story, to tell it from start to end in as complete a way as possible. Often I think about how a group of forum users would break down a story I’ve written. If you can tell it clearly and educate people on a thing or two, you’ll see it reflected in the comments.
What you do know about managing young talent in newsrooms that most managers probably don’t get?
That no matter how they seem on the outside, most of them are genuinely nervous and eager to do a good job. Some of them just handle the insecurity better than others do.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received from a boss?
To kill some babies. You see, I’ve always taken notes in long form in interviews. I often bring a keyboard and type as the person speaks — I type pretty quickly so transcribing “live” saves me the time I’d take to do the same later. Since I have such comprehensive notes, I end up wanting to cram every point and every quotable quote in the story.
One of my ex-bosses that I owe a lot of my training to told me to be a lot more ruthless cutting the fillers and trimmings, to tighten my story. It’s painful because you spend time with the interviewee, so you end up feeling so much for everything they say. But this is the single thing best that’s helped me with my writing.
If someone came up to you seeking advice on whether he or she should get into journalism, what would you say?
I’d ask if that person enjoyed consuming news in the first place, and whether they thirst for more of the story after they’re done with an article. That’s a good place to start. Love of prose is pretty secondary to that.
As a media professional, what concerns you most about the future of the industry?
That we’ll lose longform writing because people can’t sustain their attention spans. But I’m starting to feel less pessimistic about that lately. The rise of good documentaries and new immersive ways of telling stories online gives me hope. :)
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 email@example.com.