Yahoo News’ Eric Duran On 5 Steps We Can Take To Win Back Trust In Journalism

Posted on

“Your voice matters!” I’ve worked in a lot of media spaces from Nickelodeon to Yahoo where I’ve often been the youngest person in the room. It can be intimidating to speak up, but there has never been a time I regretted it.

As a part of our series about “the 5 steps we can take to win back trust in journalism” I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Eric Duran.

Eric Duran is a TikTok Producer for Yahoo News. He is passionate about sharing diverse stories, making the news easy to understand and, of course, TikTok. He credits his personal love of social media and journalism for his success on the platform. Prior to Yahoo, he worked at NBC News and started out his work in journalism in local news working at the assignment desk for Univision Miami.

Thank you so much for joining us. Before we dive in, our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you share with us the “backstory” about how you got started in your career?

I’ve always been a digital first story teller. Currently, I oversee everything that happens on TikTok for Yahoo News. I choose the stories we cover, I produce them, write scripts, and get on camera for all of our videos and help build our audience of close to 2M followers. Using TikTok in my free time has made this job fun for me and helped me better connect with Gen Z.

My career in journalism started five years ago. I studied journalism and international relations at Florida International University. I started in local news in Miami working at Univision, and then got accepted to the NBCUniversal Page program. From there I went on to work on the Snapchat news show “Stay Tuned” and continued working in the digital space on various streaming sites. Once I saw the different ways the news can be shared across different platforms, I knew I wanted to continue to bring the news to younger generations. When Yahoo was looking for a TikTok producer, I knew it was a natural next step in my career.

Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

As of recently, I would say “Talking to Strangers” by Malcolm Gladwell. It’s a good reflection on how we perceive and sometimes judge others. I think working in journalism and in social media, I’ve experienced how important tolerance and communication is first hand.

Can you share the most interesting story that occurred to you in the course of your career?

I think that there are so many underrepresented voices in the news and we are finally starting to see these stories being covered more. With TikTok, we have a ton of space to share these stories and that’s really exciting to us. We have done a lot of content for Pride Month and Black History Month, and on our website, we have a vertical for these specific stories.

Can you share the most humorous mistake that you made when you first started? Can you share the lesson or take away, you learned from it?

When I first started doing TikTok for work, I definitely experimented with all types of trending sounds. Some of them pushed the boundaries for us as a brand, but I think it ultimately allowed Yahoo to find its footing on the platform. That’s been the greatest part of working on TikTok, it’s all about trying new things and engaging with the community there.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Something that I’m really excited about is being able to introduce TikTok to other journalists across our newsroom. I love the power of social media and how Yahoo News has been able to tap into this new generation of news consumers on TikTok, so being able to work with reporters and producers across the company and share their original stories on our page has been fulfilling. I’m always looking for ways to amplify the amazing work coming out of our newsroom and have more diverse voices on our TikTok account.

What advice would you give to your colleagues in the industry, to thrive and not “burnout”?

Our most important work as journalists often happens during the toughest news cycles, and that doesn’t change on TikTok. It can feel like we always have to be “on,” but it’s important to set boundaries and check in with yourself to ensure you are not burning out. I encourage other journalists and social media managers alike to step away when possible and disconnect. It can feel like you will miss something, but at the end of the day your phone will still be there, the news will carry on, and you can pick it up when you’re back. Taking a mental health break in the middle of the day or just taking a random day off during the month can be refreshing for your health , but can also restart your productivity to continue doing an amazing job.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the main parts of our interview. According to this Gallup poll, only 36% of Americans trust the mass media. This is disheartening. As an insider, are there 5 things that editors and newsrooms can do to increase the levels of trust? Can you give some examples?

  1. Between the ongoing pandemic and the war in Ukraine, it’s more important than ever that news outlets build a real trust with its audience. Yahoo News’ leadership position as a neutral, unbiased party in a polarized media landscape makes it an indispensable utility for its millions of users. Our strategy on TikTok is an extension of our overall transformation connecting our trusted reporting and delivering it in a new way. Our unbiased, fact-based strategy has become central to our TikTok account. Our approach is really resonating on the platform as we’ve quickly racked up close to two million followers in two short years.
  2. At Yahoo, we think transparency is incredibly important, which TikTok really allows us to do. It’s the closest many consumers have gotten to directly interacting with a news brand, whether it be commenting on our posts or tagging us on other videos to amplify their stories. I think it’s a really great asset for a news organization.
  3. I am fortunate to work for a multigenerational newsroom that works together to raise up the voices and stories that matter. As for TikTok, we always approached our audience with the idea that they take the news just as seriously as we do.
  4. Newsrooms should make sure they find a balance between creating native content on social media, but also engaging with the audience in a way that’s purposeful and educational.
  5. Given that TikTok is largely a platform for Gen Z, by Gen Z, it’s important that teams working on social content understand this audience. Our approach has really resonated on the platform as we’ve quickly racked up close to two million followers in two short years.

What are a few things that ordinary news consumers can do to identify disinformation, and help to prevent its dissemination?

With social media, it’s so easy to react after reading the first sentence of an Instagram post or Tweet. I encourage everyone to read carefully before sharing a post you found online. Check the source, do a quick search online and see if there are other reputable news outlets reporting the same story. If you have a hard time finding it online these days, chances are it’s not real. I think that’s why having major news outlets like Yahoo News on TikTok is so important. There are so many amazing creators sharing the news, but there are also other videos that haven’t been fact checked. So having verified pages like us, with access to a newsroom and trained journalists is critical to the TikTok ecosystem.

Can you share your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Started” and why? Please share a story or an example for each.

“Your voice matters!” I’ve worked in a lot of media spaces from Nickelodeon to Yahoo where I’ve often been the youngest person in the room. It can be intimidating to speak up, but there has never been a time I regretted it.

“Don’t take yourself too seriously!” As a perfectionist it can be easy to obsess over your mistakes. But we’re all human. Learn from it and remember it for your next opportunity.

“You are your biggest advocate!” I’m guilty of being shy about my accomplishments. But as you start out, don’t be afraid to talk up your hard work. You never know where it will take you!

“Don’t be scared!” As someone who is on the more timid side, I have hesitated to pursue opportunities out of fear. I’ve learned to not be the obstacle in my own success.

“Put your name in the hat!” My high school counselor actually did tell me this one, and it’s never done me wrong.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I am really passionate about media literacy! I’m the go-to person for my family and friends when it comes to breaking down the news, debunking fake stories and also phishing out scams online. I think as we become more reliant on social media for information, we should focus on getting everyone up to speed on being savvy online.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

I’m on all social media as @EricDurann and you can keep up on my work on TikTok by following @YahooNews!

Thank you so much for your time you spent on this. We greatly appreciate it, and wish you continued success!

Yahoo News’ Eric Duran On 5 Steps We Can Take To Win Back Trust In Journalism was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.