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Keeping iPhones and Toes Warm at the Olympics

How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Talya Minsberg, a social strategy editor for The Times who is in Pyeongchang, South Korea, to cover the Winter Olympics, discussed the tech she’s using.

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, New York Times
How do New York Times journalists use technology in their jobs and in their personal lives? Talya Minsberg, a social strategy editor for The Times who is in Pyeongchang, South Korea, to cover the Winter Olympics, discussed the tech she’s using.
Q: As a social strategy editor for The Times, what tech do you use on the job the most?

A: The short answer isn’t an exciting one: it’s my iPhone. An iPhone 7 at that.

Part of the job of a social editor is thinking about how readers find news where they already are — on social channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. So I try to consume news like we know many of our readers do, from their phones.

When I’m in charge of what goes out on our social channels, I use a MacBook and one extra monitor, nothing too fancy. The key is having a handful of listening tools at the ready. That means I’m one of those people that has an obnoxious amount of tabs up at once. Crowdtangle, a social media analytics tool, Chartbeat, Tweetdeck, Facebook ... I could go on.

I also listen to a good amount of music that can help me zone in on my work. So I’m a frequent user of Spotify and live performances I have favorited on YouTube.

Q: How much social media do you consume for work, what forms of it do you consume the most, and how do you handle the deluge?

A: As most social media editors can attest, the job demands consuming a lot of media in all forms. Day to day, Twitter takes up most of my time and energy. I also dedicate a good amount of my attention to Facebook, Reddit and Instagram at the office.

I’m very much still working on how I handle the deluge. Some days it feels like I’m always taking in information, from the moment I wake up and start listening to NPR. Creating methods to narrow down the “need to know” helps me cut out some of the noise. That could be a zooming in on sources pertinent to a story I’m working on or top news. Either way, creating lists and advanced searches on Twitter is invaluable. I also follow specific subreddits, track trending terms, and use Google Alerts.

That being said, I’ve found it’s helpful for my mental well-being to take one day a week off from social media. For me, that’s Saturday. It feels like a weekly cleanse and sometimes it’s truly a challenge, which makes me realize just how much I really need to push myself to do it. For one day a week, I try to use my phone as one thing and one thing only: A way to text and call family and friends. Radical, isn’t it?

Q: You’re at the Winter Olympics as part of a team to cover the event. What tech preparations did you need to make to be ready for coverage?

A: My first priority was ensuring I have a secure backup for everything. If something happens to my phone or computer, I wanted to make sure that wouldn’t completely derail my work. I use a password manager, have two-step verification on everything that allows it, and keep lots of stuff in the cloud.

I’ve also kicked my listening tools usage into high gear. That means a wealth of new lists, alerts and threads I’m watching that are Olympics- and sport-specific.

Q: Do you have to keep any tech gear warm in the chilly temperatures in Pyeongchang and how do you plan to do so?

A: Yes! As many have experienced, phones can die quickly in the cold. Since temperatures have been hovering between zero and 30 degrees Fahrenheit, I thought about creative ways to keep my gear warm and charged. I ordered dozens and dozens of hand warmers that I plan on also using as phone warmers. The backup plan to that backup plan is having more than one phone on me, and more than one external charger on me.

That being said, none of my gear will do me any good if I’m an ice cube. So I thought about keeping myself warm too. SmartWool socks are my Olympic fashion staple.

Q: What is our social media strategy set to be at the Winter Olympics?

A: I’ll tell you about the tool I’m most excited about — a new messaging system with one of our sports editors, Sam Manchester. Sam will be sending messages from the Olympics to readers within The New York Times app.

There are a handful of exciting things you’ll see on the messaging app. But perhaps most exciting is the fact that you will actually be able to talk to Sam, who is a real-life human and not a bot! He’s going to be your man on the ground who will take you behind the scenes of the Games in all their excitement and quirkiness.

Q: Outside of work, what tech product are you in love with using in your daily life right now?

A: MoviePass, which provides a subscription plan so members get movie tickets at a cheaper price. I wasn’t a big moviegoer and this has completely transformed my habits overnight.

Q: What could be better about it?

A: The most frustrating feature is that you have to be within 100 yards of a theater to reserve tickets. I wish you could reserve tickets in advance without being there. I don’t see a reason against it, especially if there was a penalty for not showing up at the movie after reserving tickets to dissuade no shows, à la ClassPass.

Q: What do you do to get away from social media?

A: I get moving. I’ve been an avid runner since I was a little kid, and there’s nothing that makes me happier than a good long run. I’m hoping to get in some runs in the very early mornings in Pyeongchang, SmartWool included.

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