Ask the Expert – Srushti Gangdev, Burnaby Beacon

May 26, 2022

Srushti Gangdev – Reporter, Burnaby Beacon

Srushti Gangdev is a reporter with the Burnaby Beacon. The Burnaby Beacon brings independent, local-first news to the Burnaby community through in-depth reporting and stories that affect Burnaby and beyond.

Burnaby Beacon - Cover Photo

What inspired you to start your career in journalism?

I’ve wanted to be a journalist since I was 13 or 14—it’s the first career I can remember seriously aspiring to pursue. I don’t remember exactly what drew me to this field, but I know I’ve always been passionate about current affairs and what’s going on in the world beyond my daily experience of it. I do know that watching the events of the Arab Spring unfold from Twitter reinforced my desire to be one of the people finding and telling important stories.

How has your transition to the Burnaby Beacon team been?

Early last year, when I was considering leaving my job at CKNW/Global BC, I was terrified that I was making a huge mistake. Was it worth it to leave a stable job at a huge, established mainstream media company for a start-up that might not make it? We’re now a year in at the Beacon and I think I made the right decision. We’ve worked hard over the past twelve months to establish ourselves in the community, not just as journalists who can tell any story put in front of us, but journalists who love and are a part of the community we cover. It’s been thrilling to set our own priorities and goals and follow them at our own pace.

What do you enjoy most about your current role?

The freedom! The benefit of working at a place devoted to doing community news differently means that we can cover whatever interests us. Daily news is extremely important, but there are so many outlets doing it well already that if we feel a story has been covered already, we don’t necessarily push ourselves to match it. That means I can be working on projects that aren’t on anyone else’s radar because they aren’t necessarily “new”, or I can work on whimsical community pieces that tell the story of who we are in Burnaby.

What has been the biggest learning experience over the past two years?

That there’s no one way to be successful in journalism. Each and every story I’ve worked on since I entered this field has been important in its own way. There’s benefits to fast journalism that gets the facts out as soon as something unfolds, and there’s benefits to slow journalism that waits until there are details and context available. I’ve also learned that working for a bigger outlet isn’t necessarily a measure of success or stature, and that local journalism truly needs to be the backbone of what we do.

If you were not in media, what industry would you work in?

As I said above, journalism is the only career I’ve ever seriously considered, so this question is always a tough one for me. But I think if I had to do something else, I’d consider a career in law. I love writing, but I also love talking!

What are your predictions for the future of the media industry?

The last decade has been a whirlwind for this industry, and not in a way that inspires optimism. Alongside the virality of social media misinformation and a declining trust in media, we’ve watched news powerhouses gutting staff and resources and whittling their newsrooms down to what would have been considered a skeleton crew years prior. But at the same time, we’ve seen in just the past few years a reinvention of independent news that does what I like to think we’re doing at the Beacon—pushing for slow, contextual journalism that’s focused more on the work and less on ratings and clicks. I don’t know if I can predict the future of the industry, but I hope we see more of that.

What is your advice for PR professionals looking to pitch regional stories?

Understand the tone of the news outlet you’re pitching to. At the Beacon, for instance, we’re less likely to simply rewrite a press release promoting a business client of yours and much more likely to pick up a story if it has some sort of community value—whether it’s focusing on a specific person, project, or innovation with deep ties to Burnaby. After all, that’s who we are and who we cover!

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