Power Women in Travel: Interview with Deanna Ting

For many women, the prospect of holding a high position in their industry is more exciting than an ordinary career in business. In this blog series, we want to find out about the entrepreneurial spirit that drives women and the ideas they pursue in the travel industry.

Wanting to find out how a career in journalism looks like, I sat down with this New Yorker editor at Skift to discuss the ins and out of the industry.

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First, tell us about yourself

I’m a journalist. Right now, I’m the Hospitality Editor at Skift where I report on the hotel industry and Airbnb. I’ve been working as a journalist for a total of 14 years and I’ve spent more than a decade covering the travel industry. I’m also interested in writing more about topics that include food, culture, technology, design, marketing, and social issues.

What drew you to travel?

When I was in college, I did a study abroad program in Oxford, England that really opened up my eyes to all of the incredible experiences you can have when you travel, whether near or far. During my college years, I also interned at TravelAge West, a trade magazine for travel agents, among many other magazine internships. Interning at TravelAge West eventually led to a full-time staff position as Senior Editor there, about two years after I graduated from university. And ever since then, I’ve mostly worked as an editor at a number of other travel publications.

What motivated you to become a journalist?

I’ve always loved writing and I knew that, in terms of having a career, I wanted to have one where I would basically get paid to write. But beyond that, the other aspects of journalism that I love include being able to constantly learn and interact and engage with people. I learn so much every day just by doing research for stories and getting to talk to so many people on a daily basis. Being a journalist is a lot like being a storyteller, but you’re telling a story rooted in facts and evidence, and you’ve got to do the research to back it all up. I really enjoy that aspect of journalism.

Did you always know you wanted to write?

Yes, I always knew I wanted to be a writer in some capacity but I didn’t know I’d end up specializing in covering the travel industry specifically. But it’s been great–I’ve been covering this industry, specifically, for more than a decade, and I honestly can’t complain. The great thing about writing about travel is that it really is so interconnected with so many other industries, so you’re constantly learning, and finding all of these connections to the larger world around you.

What is your biggest accomplishment as a journalist?

I’ve never been the type of person who consider accomplishment to be packaged in the form of awards. I think helping future and fellow journalists is what matters most to me. I feel most proud of my work when I can mentor someone to become a better journalist or a writer, and I’ve been lucky enough to do that at some of my previous jobs.

So far, which one is your best article?

That’s tough but I’d have to say I’m proud of the work I did on “The Complete Oral History of Boutique Hotels” for Skift. It took me more than a year to put it all together, and I interviewed more than two dozen people for it.

Looking back, how difficult it is to bring your ideas to life?

I generally don’t have too many difficulties pitching my ideas for stories or coverage, at least at Skift. Some stories are more challenging than others to complete. Sometimes it’s really difficult to get certain sources for stories, or to get the information I’m looking for, but I’m pretty persistent and I don’t give up very easily.

What challenges do women face in journalism?

I didn’t think this would still be the case today, but it’s still a challenge in some ways to be a female journalist, and in some ways, to also be a person of color.

In many newsrooms, the editorial staffs are still dominated by men and, more often than not, predominantly by white men. That’s just how things are for many publications, the New York Times, included.

I honestly wish I could say that I haven’t faced discrimination throughout my career as a journalist, but I have. For what reasons? I’m not always sure. But it’s hard; it’s not easy. Sometimes, it’s more apparent and blatant. And at other times, it’s more subtle. Often, it’s those times when you’re silenced, or you’re not given the same opportunities as other reporters, even when you’re just as qualified, if not more. Or you’re doubted in some way, or not seen as authoritative, as men are. I’m hopeful, however, that things will change, and get better. They simply have to.

“It’s still a challenge in some ways to be a female journalist, and in some ways, to also be a person of color”

Beyond that, too, the industry itself is very difficult to navigate, not just for women but for everyone who works in media. The media landscape has changed so much since I first started working in it. A lot of it has to do with the growth of digital media and social media. So many media companies are laying off reporters, or doing away with copy desks, fact checkers, or undergoing massive “reorganizations,” that finding a full-time staff position as a journalist can be daunting or nearly impossible.

But despite all the challenges, I think that if you have a real passion for journalism–for telling stories that matter–and you’re smart about navigating whatever obstacles that come your way, it’s a truly worthwhile and fulfilling career to pursue.

Do you have any recommendations for other women who want to start their careers as journalists?

One word: internships. This is for anyone who wants to enter into journalism, male or female. Do as many as you can. Get all the training you can. I know this can be tough, however. So many editorial internships are unpaid, unfortunately, and that’s a whole other issue/topic to discuss because that means the only people who can afford to do unpaid internships are often privileged and don’t need to get paid to work. But getting hands-on, real-world experience is truly invaluable.

During college, in addition to doing unpaid internships, I also worked multiple jobs, and it was seriously tough–no doubt about it. But I was determined, and looking back on it, I’m really grateful to have had those kinds of experiences because I learned so much.

I’d also recommend trying to find a good mentor. Reach out to other women in the industry as much as you can.

Lastly, which journalism book changed your life?

I don’t think there was a single book on journalism that changed my life, but I’d have to say that reading the work of some of these great female journalists really made an impression on me: writers like Dorothy Thompson, Dorothy Parker, Nora Ephron, Joan Didion, Ida B. Wells, and Susan Sontag.

Deanna Ting is a writer, editor, photographer, and reporter based in New York City. Her work can be found on her website at deannating.com. You can also find her on Twitter and posting delicious food on her Instagram.


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