Photo by Cheryl A D'Mello

Janet Cho spoke to a media writing class Thursday, March 31.


April 19, 2016

The Plain Dealer’s Janet Cho speaks to media writing class

Janet Cho, a reporter for the Plain Dealer, visited Cleveland State University to speak to a media writing class Thursday, March 31. Attended by students in the class and the Cleveland Stater staff, the discussion focused on anecdotes and aspects of business journalism, ethics and the ever-growing field of multimedia journalism.

Cho began the discussion by explaining some of her background. Originally from Rochester, N.Y., Cho earned a bachelor’s in English before obtaining her master’s in journalism. After stents in her hometown, then Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Cho moved to Cleveland and has been working at the Plain Dealer for the past 17 years.

Focusing on the human side of business, Cho said it has allowed her to keep writing the kind of stories she enjoys while the field of journalism changes around her.

“Of course the way all of you consume the news has also changed things a lot,” she said. “I grew up reading the newspaper [so] it changes the kinds of things I write in my stories — it changes the length of my stories, the way I present information in my stories to be mobile-friendly – but generally the meat of the story is still the same and the reason that I’m writing it is hopefully still the same.”

Adapting to her ever-changing field, Cho has become more active on social media to engage with her audience, including search-engine optimizing her articles and headlines. Her writing style and subjects have remained the same, including her responsibility to be accurate and fair in her reporting, she said.

“The thing I like most about the job is the kind of feedback I get — [I] like going out to stories more than just talking to someone over the phone because you get to [look] at them and have a real conversation. [I] don’t necessarily get really excited when I see [100] Facebook shares on my stories, I get more excited when I get a note from the person saying ‘Your story totally changed how people see my business now…’ [that] to me is more meaningful than the lack-of zeros after my paycheck.”

Cho told several anecdotes from her time at the Plain Dealer, illustrating the skills and ethical values needed as a reporter to put a face to a numbers-problem.

Answering a student’s question on the pessimistic challenges of her field, Cho explained that while her future is unclear and her job title may change, her reporter’s instincts will remain.

“In ten years, I hope to still be working in this field, [but] I’m not sure,” she said. “I would like to [think] that there will be a place for us, think ink-stained wretches. I’d like to think that newspapers will still be around — wonderful journalism is still happening, and some really amazing stories being uncovered. There’s still a part of me that will always be a journalist, even if my [career] changes and I have to do something else.”


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