Vox Media’s Lauren Rabaino Visits Her Alma Mater
By Megan Schellong
As an executive in charge of operations at Vox Media in New York, Lauren Rabaino (Journalism, '09) addresses issues at the intersection of journalism, technology, design and revenue.
Rabaino’s journalism career began as a radio reporter in high school where she learned about coding and podcasting. She brought to Cal Poly an ability to solve problems and get creative with design. She worked as Mustang Daily’s second web editor and helped migrate the website to WordPress.
“We were able to innovate on new platforms, and we were liberated to try new technology,” said Rabaino.
Rabaino added that Cal Poly's Learn by Doing philosophy helped to continue her spirit of editorial innovation in a changing media landscape.
She had these words of advice for journalism students when she visited campus in November:
1. Don’t be afraid to take risks
College is a “sandbox” for exploration with fewer real-world repercussions for student journalists who want to try new things. Make risk-taking a responsible investment by having an idea of what you’re going to get out of it.
2. Be adaptable
An important skill is the ability to learn quickly — and constantly — along with the willingness to ditch your past conceptions of what you thought was reality. While tools and skills like coding and social media management can be learned now, new skills will likely prove more valuable as the industry changes.
3. Be consistent
“The only thing you have to hold true to your brand is the ethos for which you stand and the way that you express it.” At Vox, the audience knows what to expect. Whether it’s a push notification or a documentary, the content is based on the Vox mission: Explain the news.
4. Take advantage of data
“Even if you’re writing a 1,000-word text-based article, you can power half of that based on data analysis. It doesn’t just have to be visual. It’s contextual information; it’s a way to paint a story.” At Vox, data also is used to analyze the health of the company and identify ways to capitalize on opportunities for growth.
5. Be where your audience is
It’s important to adapt and change the delivery of content based on the ways the audience consumes news. At Vox, the company moved to an off-platform site to establish its presence in social apps, like Snapchat, in order to be where its audience is. “We are thinking more about launching brands today than launching a website.”