Roberto Torres is a reporter at CIO Dive, covering the software industry, data analytics and the future of technology. A native of Venezuela, he lives in Philadelphia. In this interview, conducted by email, Torres discusses his work at CIO Dive and offers advice to students interested in careers in business journalism.
Q. Describe your job at CIO Dive. What is your typical day like?
A. As the reporter for CIO Dive, I’m tasked with crafting stories that help chief information officers excel at their job. I cover trends in software, data and analytics and AI for tech executives. Unsurprisingly, these days I’m writing a bunch about remote work and the impact of the pandemic on enterprise technology.
A usual day begins with a scan of the morning’s news and anything I might have missed overnight. Then an assignment comes along — breaking news or a study with relevant data published recently.
As the morning advances, I kick a quick first draft to my editor while keeping up with co-editing duties and checking the tech chatter on social media. Finally, our beloved daily newsletter moves along the pipeline and lands mid-morning on exec’s inboxes.
I often spend the rest of the day meeting with my team, checking in with analysts and executives while working on longer stories, reviewing data that may be relevant to our audience or taking in a conference or press event which, of course, are all virtual of late.
Q. How do story editing and headline writing work at CIO Dive?
A. Our stuff is read by heads of IT and C-suites, whose days are often planned out to the minute, so It’s crucial to pull them in quickly through engaging headlines — but no clickbait: When we claim something up top, best believe we have the goods to prove it.
Our pieces go through multiple rounds of edits. In the back and forth, we squabble over word choices or rogue punctuation, sure, but the core of the editing process focuses on sharpening our stories in order to convey actionable insight. What will the reader walk away with at the end of the piece? Do we stress this enough in the right parts of the story? What data supports this conclusion, and how are we visualizing it?
(With my pieces, the editing process usually involves taking out lots of em dashes and passive voice.)
Any journalist worth their salt knows they NEED editors to polish stories into their best version. And there’s added value in having multiple eyes skim a story.
CIO Dive’s headline writing and editing process thrives with a sharp rephrase from Managing Editor Deborah Barrington, a precise “cut” suggestion from Associate Editor Samantha Schwartz or a valuable request for deeper analysis from Senior Editor Naomi Eide.
Editing the newsletter as a package is also important to us. We strive to make sure every corner of the newsletter delivers value. We pore over what to add to our What We’re Reading section, or quickly pull relevant pieces from CIO Dive’s repository of stories.
Q. What are the unique challenges to covering the technology beat?
A. Given my niche beat, one crucial challenge is to consistently deliver valuable takeaways for an audience that is incredibly well informed.
Our readership already knows what technologies like cloud computing or data analytics are, how they’re used and who the key players are. What they want to know is how their use will change, how these changes will impact the decisions they’ll need to make next year, or five years out. They want to know what’s next.
Cutting past the hype is a common challenge for tech reporters. I lean on data, conversations with technologists and voices from analysts to understand where the real value in tech trends lies.
Q. What advice do you have for journalism students interested in internships and jobs at Industry Dive or other sites that focus on business news?
A. My advice is simple: shoot your shot. Shoot your shots, plural.
It had barely been a year since I landed in Philly from my native Venezuela when I DMd then Technical.ly editor-in-chief Zack Seward for guidance on the local media and tech landscape. We got a cup of coffee, and soon after I was freelancing for Technical.ly Philly, where I’d go on to become the lead reporter.
I knew almost nothing about Philadelphia’s tech ecosystem, but I had a ton of questions and was never afraid of asking them. I was never afraid to ask for a chance to prove myself.
At Industry Dive, we’re asked to bring our curiosity to work on day one and feed it constantly. With 20+ publications across a ton of industries, there’s huge potential to explore whatever you’re passionate about through in-depth business journalism alongside world-class colleagues. (P.S. We’re hiring, and if you’re reading this, I probably want to work with you.)