MJ Alumnus Appointed Social Media Editor at the SCMP

Yolanda Ma, a recent graduate of the Master of Journalism programme, has taken up the first ever position of Social Media Editor at the South China Morning Post.

Yolanda Ma at the SCMP

Ma has been working at the SCMP, Hong Kong’s leading English language newspaper, for six weeks.

She answered some questions about her role, what it consists of, how she got it, her motivation and the importance of social media.

Plus, she gives some tips on studying and job hunting.

What does the role of a Social Media Editor consist of?
It is hard to define the role since the job nature is constantly changing, but basically, I am managing the Post‘s development on social networks, from strategy planning to executing, also from content curating to crowd facilitating.

How did you get the job?
My previous MJ classmate, as well as colleague during an internship at the International Herald Tribune, Jonathan Stray (also MJ 2010), referred me. I went through two interviews with the Post’s Editor-in-Chief and its Deputy Director of Digital Development before I got the offer. My job hunting lasted only two weeks.

Why did you want this position?
First of all, I am very clear that social media is where my passion lies. Second, the media industry at this point is a really exiting place, full of challenges and changes. Third, the SCMP provides a good platform for me to experiment with new projects, while this particular role has great independence and flexibility.

What do you do on a daily basis — can you run us through an average day?
There is no typical day – with the flow of my projects, every day is different. Usually, I arrive at office around 10:30am and leave around 7pm. I also read about developments in journalism or social media for one to two hours in off-hours. I attend the daily news conference and work on my projects for most of the afternoon time — this includes researching, meetings, editing, outreaching, etc.

Why is social media so important for newspapers and other news organisations?
Because social networks are where the audience are.

Yolanda Ma at work

How is the SCMP adapting to changes in the industry and how are you involved?
The SCMP, as with other newspapers, is experimenting with different online strategies that can help us utilise the value of our stories and help our readers receive news more comfortably. Social media is only part of the revolution, but it will, hopefully, change the way that the Post interacts with its readers.

What’s the best part of the job and the worst part?
The best part is the steady challenge that comes from a continuous learning curve on the job; the worst part is that sometimes I can’t stop working because it is too fun!

Briefly, what was your working experience before going to work at the SCMP?
For the main part, I interned at global non-profit organizations such as the United Nations, WWF Hong Kong, and World Vision China. I’ve also interned at media organizations and in commercial sectors.

How did your Master of Journalism at the JMSC prepare you for the role?
The JMSC experience prepared me with basic journalism sense and new media skills. Len Apcar’s Digital Media class gave me real insight into how new technologies are transforming the journalism industry.

What advice would you give to current Masters students about getting jobs or what direction to go in?
I have to say I am the lucky one, getting the right job at the right time in the right direction (for me), and working with the right people — people who are open-minded with journalism passions. It is important to know what you are passionate about and find your niche – it doesn’t always come naturally, but never be afraid to try. And don’t worry too much about your grade — I was never an A student. But getting straight As is not a bad thing either!!!