Journalist profile: Gladys Tsang from OMNI

Gladys TsangGladys Tsang is the news coordinator at OMNI, responsible for three Asian language news productions that serve the Lower Mainland, including Cantonese, Mandarin and Punjabi.

Impressively Gladys also helps out the Canucks (yes, you read it right, the Canucks) with social media once in a while.

Read on to hear how Gladys manages her busy schedule…

What do you love most about your job?

I’m the kind of person who thrives on information. In this job, even though the motions are the same every day, the stories and the people concerned are always changing. That works out really well for someone like me.

What do you look for in a story?

Everything your English teacher taught you about good story telling applies here. Who, what, where, why, when, and how? I work in ethnic news, so I also have to worry about finding a culture-specific angle. I have to ask myself, “Who can I interview who can speak in language?” or “Why does this community care about this story?” In my newsroom, it’s always a priority to make any story relevant to the communities we serve – Cantonese, Mandarin, and Punjabi.

What’s your biggest bug bare when working with PRs?

PRs are always a huge help to us, especially in the slow news periods of December and the summer. But there are a couple of things I hope journalists and PRs can work together to improve. I know it is common practice for PRs to follow up releases with phone calls, but sometimes on busy days, it’s hard to take those calls. So if a journalist ever sounds short on the phone, please don’t be offended. Chances are, it’s just bad timing.

Also, I once had a very bad experience trying to get my reporter into a conference that required accreditation. None of the contacts provided for the PR team worked out – emails, phone calls, and voicemail went unanswered. Contact details are there for a reason and when they prove to be useless, it is very frustrating. This was just one bad experience though.

What’s your average day like?

As I work the late shift, I use mornings to take care of personal errands or have some time to myself. I generally start each work day at 1pm. My first task after getting in is catching up on what’s going on (beyond what I might’ve already gleaned from emails in the morning), and coordinating story feeds between the Vancouver station and Toronto counterpart.

The rest of the afternoon involves working on the assignment desk, preparing for next day, running our social media accounts, and looking over parts of our scripts. My evenings are spent monitoring any possible breaking stories, and cutting and uploading stories to our website. I generally leave the station at about 10pm. If either of my colleagues on the Assignment Desk are off, I fill in on day shift.

What’s your favourite social network and why?

Twitter, by a mile. Working in news, immediacy and timeliness are key. Twitter is best for giving and getting information as quickly as possible. In the age of Twitter, there is no such thing as breaking a story on the evening news anymore. Stories are broken on Twitter before news agencies even get a chance to get a camera or reporter to the scene. Citizen reporters are so quick to take videos or photos and tweet about what they’re seeing these days. Sometimes the best breaking stories are done by getting in touch with and interviewing someone who just happened to be there. The initial contact in those cases is also done by Twitter. It is truly an incredible tool for journalists.

What coffee shop are you most likely to be found in?

Probably Starbucks, but I’m not sure if it’s because I enjoy their beverages so much as it’s just so darn convenient. I fancy myself a bit of a coffee snob. If I had my choice and lived closer to Kits, I’d actually choose to go to 49th Parallel. (Bel Café and Caffe Artigiano are fabulous also.)

What’s your personal career ambition?

I am a huge sports junkie and have been since watching the 1988 Calgary Olympics as a little girl. I had my first experience working at an Olympics during a stint with NBC during the Vancouver Games, and have been trying ever since to find that thrill again.

Additionally, the atmosphere in that newsroom was spectacular – sitting there knowing you’re among multiple winners of multiple Emmy Awards is just so inspiring. I do miss being in the field, so the chance to work on location at different Olympic Games would be hard to pass up. I’d also eventually love to transition to a role in PR – hopefully with a major sports team. Marrying sports with my work would be a dream come true.