BuzzFeed’s Lead News Curation Editor Sara Yasin explains how her passion for communication helped her understand the current environment and be better at her job.
How can passion help you understand the conflicted online environment? It can help you grow by learning other perspectives and see other sides of the news.
Sara Yasin is the Lead Editor of BuzzFeed’s News Curation department. While she worked in human rights, she became passionate about understanding people‘s different views and growing as a result of that.
So she sought an environment where she could become better at her job by listening to people. Though BuzzFeed is a highly popular media platform, Sara knows that she and her team must win readers’ trust.
Disagreements are frequent in journalism. This website is no exception.
However, Sara stays strong and chooses to use disagreements as an opportunity to improve. ‘I feel that helps you and it makes your strategy better.’
She says that it’s important to hear why people disagree. When they are confident and articulate their opinion, it offers her a chance to grow.
Do you want to understand people better? See more here and remember to share it with your friends and spread the passion.
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Moustafa: Hello everyone and welcome back to Passion Sundays, the best way to end a week and start another. Our guest today is the Lead News Creation Editor at BuzzFeed. Sara, how are you?
Sara: Good. How are you doing?
Moustafa: Thank you very much for being with us today! It’s awesome. You are being interviewed in a media platform about a media platform that’s doing phenomenal. It doesn’t get any more passionate than this. So tell me a bit more about what you do.
Sara: So am, I am Lead News Creation Editor at BuzzFeed so that means we have this team called the News Curation team and we’re responsible for distributing all the stories that BuzzFeed publishes on the news side. And so we’re running social media platforms, we’re running news apps, we’re sending push alerts and running the home page and so we’re a really cool team of people.
Moustafa: Alright. You seem to be excited about the job so how did you end up doing that?
Sara: So I started out doing more editing and commissioning, that kind of like more traditional… I guess more traditional news. But I always loved social media and I always loved like how people communicate and talk about stories on there so I eventually became more a social media editor but the thing that I started doing with BuzzFeed like really just geeking out on how people understand news stories and how they actually like read them and share them. And it’s nice to be in a place where I can completely focus on that.
Moustafa: Nice. And how did you end up doing what you’re doing? I mean, did you start in a similar field or you had a bit of a transformation somewhere along the way?
Sara: So I started out in human rights. And I like I was doing some stuffs around women’s rights and freedom of expression. And I realized that I wasn’t… I felt like a lot of people were talking only to people that agreed with them so I started to feel like I want to move more to journalism because I was interested in the web and in social media how people were like… I think this is around the time of all those, this was around the time of Occupy and the Arab Spring and everything and I became interested and I became more interested in the social media kind of style of things. And I just really wanted to understand how you talk directly to people and how do you get them to understand things versus just talking to people who agree with you on the same topic.
Moustafa: That’s interesting because usually when people are pursuing their passion they only want to talk to somebody who tells them they are right.
Moustafa: But what you are saying is that actually you started pursuing somebody that might not agree with you to keep you motivated to communicate more.
Sara: Yeah. I think so, yeah. I think that’s the great thing about news, working in news and in an environment like the one we’re in now. We have more feedback from people and for me, what’s really cool about my job is that you know, I do, see lots of different perspectives and I get to see what the conversation is like for a certain topic and I think that’s really important to kinda keep you in, to keep you understanding what’s happening around you.
Moustafa: I like that. How about when the disagreement becomes a little bit too much? So if everything around you is disagreeing with you for a little bit too long, you start doubting your performance, you start doubting your passion. How do you find passion in those times?
Sara: So, I mean, it’s hard for us because I’m sitting on social and I’m seeing kinda the attitude towards news right now is pretty negative and I would say that all it does is it tells you ‘this is the environment we’re in right now, this is the climate we’re in.’ And as like journalists and as news organizations we have to win the trust of the people that maybe don’t believe us and think that we’re biased, or think that’s we’re whatever word they would wanna use. And I think that all it does is convince me that we need to be better at our job and better at understanding of the environment that we’re in.
Moustafa: Nice. And as you’re progressing with your journey, there must be people who do not truly agree with your passion. That even in a big organization where in a big picture you might but I’m sure there are disagreements on details.
Moustafa: How do you stay focused on your passion while you’re able to deliver on the bigger purpose, on the bigger passion which might not work together very well?
Sara: Do you mean like, colleagues, if they don’t necessarily agree?
Moustafa: Colleagues, management. You know, you are the Lead Editor but you also have someone more senior than you.
Sara: Yeah. There is the Global Curation Editor.
Moustafa: So there is always someone more senior. How do you deal with clashes of that level?
Sara: I think that the thing that I love about the company I work for is that I feel that everyone listens to each other and everyone gives each other a space to disagree or to talk about something so I’ve never felt that my ideas were disrespected or not heard. And I think that’s really important because I’ve been in places before where I didn’t feel that people listen to me and they’ve thought ‘I’m in charge of you and that’s it’. Where I work now everyone listens to what I might have to say and I’ll listen to them and the same for the people on my team. I always listen to what they have to say. If they really disagree with me on something I’m like ‘I’m going to be respectful of what they want’. Because I think that being able to listen to each other and disagree and see other views is the thing that makes you better in what you’re doing.
Moustafa: So you’re ok if a lot of people disagree with you.
Sara: Well, I mean, that depends on what it is. I think it’s important to be able to hear like why people disagreeing with you. And I feel that helps you grow and it makes your strategy better. Because I think people feeling confident enough to say ‘I don’t like this’ is really important. And to be able to say ‘I don’t like this because of x,y,z’ like being actually able to articulate it is really important.
Moustafa: Ok, so are able to articulate when you agree and what you disagree on both ways.
Sara: Yeah, and you grow more. Everyone does.
Moustafa: I guess, yeah. I guess media is about communicating what your passion is. Thank you very much for this awesome interview!
Sara: No problem!
Moustafa: I appreciate it.
Sara: Nice to meet you!
Moustafa and Sara: Passion!
Moustafa: What do you think? I would really love to hear your opinion. If you found this episode as useful as I did, leave your comments on the blog below and do share it with your friends. And if you’d like more tools, tips, techniques and exclusive interviews that I only share on my website, go to Moustafa.com. And until next episode, live passionately!