This website protects your privacy by adhering to the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). We will not use your data for any purpose that you do not consent to and only to the extent not exceeding data which is necessary in relation to a specific purpose(s) of processing. You can grant your consent(s) to use your data for specific purposes below or by clicking “Agree to all”.
Dávid Tvrdoň shares his insights and advice for aspiring journalists
Starting a career in the journalism industry can be a difficult task. How to choose between many different career paths? What are the first steps to make towards your dream job? To help aspiring journalists kick-start their careers, we launched the monthly newsletter “100 Paths to Journalism”, featuring career tips and Q&As with industry professionals.
For our first edition, we talked with Dávid Tvrdoň, podcast producer and product manager for online news at SME.sk, to learn about his career.
Dávid started as a med student, then became a copywriter and social media marketing specialist, and then moved on to be a data journalist and product manager. Now he’s also a podcast producer. This is what he told us about his professional journey and the advice he would give to aspiring journalists out there.
After secondary school, I went straight to medical school only to find out I’m much more interested in journalism, media and marketing. I ignored my med-exams and rather spent time working on a “cultural blog” project with a friend. So basically the med-school showed me I really should do something else.
The best thing journalism school gave me was contacts, my classmates work all around the journalism landscape. Unfortunately, the journalism school in Bratislava I attended was at the time light years behind what was expected from a journalist. However, before I started studying I landed a job doing social media, community management and copywriting. It was a far better education than the one I got at school. The journalism school was only teaching the content creation part (and not really well), my marketing job taught me how to think in terms of content distribution. That combination made total sense for me.
During that time I stumbled upon an online data journalism course, co-created by the European Journalism Centre. After that, I attended a few related workshops and seminars. When I was asked to come to work for my current newsroom, my job was to work on data visualisations and they needed someone to be a bridge between the paper and the development team. So I had two part-time jobs within one.
A year later, I focused only on product management and when we started doing podcasts I split my work time again. I was very lucky to have a chance to try everything, I picked up different skills along the way and became quite flexible, which is always good within this industry.
I had been mentioning podcasts within the newsroom I worked at for some time and once the management decided to pursue this venture I was basically the first pick. However, I had to pick up a lot of things, they don’t teach podcasting in any school. Almost everyone working in podcasting now is self-taught or has a background in radio.
Definitely finding the one or two things I will be best at. You want to have at least one skill you are really really good at doing. There was a bunch of things I wanted to do within journalism, had to pick a few and just learn as much as I could.
This is very specific for me, not a recommendation — I wish I picked up coding or graphics design on top of what I know now. Even within podcasting, there are some technical issues where these skills would help.
It’s kind of a ‘backstage’ job — deciding which podcasts to greenlight (though it’s not just my decision), which platforms to take seriously, thinking about distribution and promotion, a lot of looking at analytics and data, getting guests and having scripts in order. The official job title involves also audio-editing and post-production. But it really depends on the newsroom, just look at Slate’s job posting.
It may sound like a cliché, but love for audio is definitely a great start. I had no special training. I just listened to a lot of podcasts and knew how I wanted them to sound like. Obviously, audio editing skills are a great start, I love the NPR audio guide if you are looking for one. With narrative podcasts, you want to work hard on your storytelling skills. And basically for any kind of podcast you need to have a pretty specific script.
Regarding the podcast production, the day always starts by listening to the current episode, some of us listen to it two or three times. After that, someone from the team goes to the editorial meeting, where the topics of the day are discussed. We have to choose one which we think is the most important and start working on it. The host prepares for the interview and the reporter basically does her or his job as usual.
The responsibility of the producer is to get additional audio — background voices and setting up the time of the recording so that everyone is available. After recording, the audio is being produced, edited and mixed. Then it is uploaded online and distributed.
Can’t really think of a time in the future I would not at least host a podcast. My current job is made up of three positions, besides podcast producer, it’s a product manager for online news and digital project, and I still do some reporting and writing.
Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism recently published a study called Are Journalists Today’s Coal Miners? It basically examined the struggle for talent and diversity in modern newsrooms. What surprised me was a huge demand for print journalism from the students. One look at Mary Meeker’s state-of-the-Internet slide deck, specifically at the slide with media time & ad spending, and you see that the future of journalism is digital and mobile.
Just go and get any journalism job as soon as possible or at least an internship.
I have already mentioned the NPR audio guide, I stay up to date mainly by the daily Podnews newsletter and I love the very comprehensive Tools for podcasters website by RadioPublic.
Want to receive the next edition of the newsletter in your inbox? Subscribe to the “100 Paths to Journalism” here.