How to succeed in audience engagement

Rubina Madan Fillion is the director of audience engagement at The Intercept and an adjunct graduate-level professor at Colombia University. (Photo courtesy of Rubina M. Fillion)

By Elisabeth Niman

How are young journalists supposed to find their way? What can they do to distinguish themselves in a market like audience engagement?

Rubina Madan Fillion, the director of audience engagement at The Intercept and adjunct professor at Colombia University, called in with Public Insight Network Bureau students to discuss her role in audience engagement.

She said audience engagement is the “bridge” between writers/producers of media and the readers/consumers of that product. “We are reader advocates,” making sure that audiences get what they need from the news and that their voices are heard in news coverage, she said.

There’s been a recent “shift in how people think about it,” and how directors can creatively reach out to their audience in methods like posting to the wildly popular Instagram, or coming up with projects like the collaborative Coral Project.

As a professor, Fillion recommends that students looking for jobs in engagement beware 22-22-22 jobs that engage in “churnalism” — newsrooms looking for 22-year-olds to work for 22 hours per day for $22,000 a year. Her advice is to look at jobs in Washington D.C. and New York City, areas saturated in diverse media jobs.

Fillion also recommends building networks of sponsors at the workplace, mentors who work in your industry and allies from your peer groups. This network will bring opportunities for collaboration and even job prospects in the future.


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