News & events

10 minutes with Janice Pereira, engagement strategist, The Times

In the latest ‘10 minutes with’ interview, The Times’ Pereira tells us about the importance of journalism, the power of her intuition and her biggest inspiration, Jada Pinkett Smith.

How did you get into journalism?

My career in journalism kicked off as an intern at Unearthed, Greenpeace’s news and investigations platform.

I applied for the internship through Creative Access, an organisation that provides people from underrepresented backgrounds, opportunities to enter the media industry and progress within it.

During my internship, I was introduced to different aspects of journalism from pitching to reporting to building digital audiences on social media and newsletters with a really supportive team.

Why does journalism matter?

Because it has enormous potential to influence how we see ourselves, how we relate to each other and to the world – and that should not be taken lightly.

The rigour of journalism and the trust that this gives rise to means that it plays an important role in calibrating society’s moral compass, which is vital in a living, breathing, progressing democracy.

From the simple to the wide-ranging, journalism speaks to every issue: Which political party will I support? Am I a remainer or am I a Brexit supporter? Where do I stand on cancel culture? Why should I care about X group of people who live on another continent? How do we as a society tackle sexual abuse? Should I eat red meat?

The way in which we report matters too: a failure to represent parts of society and a focus on sensationalism has led to a lack of trust and avoidance of news, particularly from young and female audiences.

When this happens we all feel the effects: increased polarisation, disenfranchisement of parts of society and a democracy under threat

I know this because I’ve lived it.

I didn’t vote in the first General Election that I was eligible for, or even the EU referendum when ironically I was living in France at the time. I did this not because I didn’t care, but because I didn’t feel informed enough to have a say. Like many others, I was too put off by the divisive nature of political news to keep up with it.

It’s why representative and constructive storytelling is key to the future of journalism, and why audience teams like the one I’m proud to say I am part of, will be integral to ensuring journalism resonates and reaches generations to come.

Best scoop (yours or someone else’s)?

Earlier this year, The New York Times released a sobering feature-length documentary “Framing Britney Spears”, which examines the singer’s tumultuous life and the conservatorship given to her father.

I thought it was a brilliant example of journalism transcending traditional audiences while examining issues such as misogyny (and our complicity in it), the laws that allow controversial conservatorships in the U.S. and celebrity culture.

What are you working on right now?

Many things: I’m part of a team working with the newsroom to produce content that engages new audiences, I'm putting together a roadmap to implement our commenting strategy, and expanding the tools we use to produce reader-led journalism.

The variety of things that I get to work on means each day is rarely the same, which is one of the things I love about my job.

Career highlight so far?

A project I worked on with The Times Business desk last year on electric cars (a Times reader favourite).

It was the first time I was involved in almost every stage of publishing from using data to understand our target audiences to working with different teams to make the package sing online.

It gave me a really good sense of the aspects of digital journalism that played to my strengths and weaknesses and helped guide me to my current role as engagement strategist – a position that didn't exist at The Times before.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

“Pay attention to your life. Your life is your greatest teacher. Your joys, challenges, sadnesses – everything is happening to bring you closer to you”.

I’ve heard many variations of this from different people, but this quote from Oprah I feel sums up the sentiment well.

Working on cultivating a strong sense of self and leaning into my intuition has really helped me to say “no” when I’ve needed to and guided me to the right opportunities over the course of my career so far.

Who or what inspires you most?

I find people who have overcome adversity to thrive incredibly inspirational.

Jada Pinkett Smith is one such person who comes to mind.

She’s a kick-ass woman and I'm a big fan of her Facebook Watch series Red Table Talk in which she shares her and her family’s unconventional approach to life alongside tackling important and provocative topics.

Who would be your fantasy dinner party guests and why?

At this point, I’d have anyone. I’m desperate to have friends and family over!

I miss my mum’s home-cooked Indian food.

How do you switch off from work?

Trashy television, long walks and board games.

Gym or gin?

Not sure I can claim either – I cancelled my gym membership during the lockdown and my Christmas Times bottle of gin from 2018 remains untouched... How about a cup of tea in front of the television instead?

If I wasn’t a journalist, I would be…

Probably doing something related to documentaries.

 

13/05/21

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