As part of Inspiring Women Week here on shinyshiny, we caught up with the editor of audio news app Clippet, Grace Regan.
Now, don’t be surprised if you haven’t heard of Grace. She’s very new to the industry, with this being her first job out of university, but don’t let that put you off – she’s far from inexperienced.
Having spoken to her, she seems miles wiser and more confident and charismatic than her 23 years, and it’s inspiring to hear how she sees her young age as a benefit rather than a hinderance, and how she hopes to prove the critics wrong.
So, first of all, can you tell us a bit about Clippet?
Clippet’s an audio news service, and everyday we release 20 ‘clippets’, each under a minute, of a news story into the most important and relevant information you need to know. We came up with the idea, because we wanted a news update delivered in a format and style that would fit into our lifestyle.
We wanted something quick and convenient, and consuming news on a smartphone, on a small screen wasn’t very user-friendly – I spent my life bumping into people, while I was walking down the the street – so we thought why not put everything into audio? It’s hands-free and on-the-go. It just seemed like the most logical step forward for mobile news consumption.
How did you get into working for Clippet initially?
Jimmy [James MacLeod] originally came up with the idea, and then approached me in May last year. I’d done a lot of radio and journalism while studying English at UCL, and so was really interested in audio media. Jimmy knew that, and got in contact with me, I said yes and then it all just went from there!
What’s been the proudest moment of your career so far?
It’s not been a specific moment in time, but I think looking around, recently at the team we’ve built and all these journalists who are now experts in the Clippet style. We spent a lot of time developing our own editorial style, and at the beginning it was just me in the newsroom alone trying to come up with the best way to do it, but now, over time, we’ve got a really good solid team, and they’ve learnt and developed so much over the last year, so I’m really proud to have been able to share all my hard work with them, and now watch them grow into these really great journalists.
So, with so much hard work, you must have found it difficult at times. What’s been the most challenging moment of building up Clippet?
Oh, there’ve been so many! First of all, I’d say learning how to manage people my own age. That was a big challenge. Learning how to be a boss, as this was my first job, has been quite difficult too, and communication between myself and Jimmy, and us and the rest of the team. We’ve made a lot of mistakes by not communicating enough and we’re really trying to learn a lot from that, and likewise in business decisions.
You said you’ve found it hard managing people your own age. So, as someone quite young in the industry, has it been an issue for you?
No, I actually think it’s kind of a benefit to us, because we’re trying to bring news to an audience the same age as us. So, being the same age as people we’re trying to engage with is great, because all we have to do is look around and ask our friends what they think is the best way to deliver news. The lack of experience can sometimes be an issue, but we’ve got some great people around us, and a team of advisors we can go to and ask questions as and when we need them. So, I think having a young and fresh approach to the news has actually been quite beneficial.
With the news and tech industries both being so famously male-dominated, have you found it hard being a woman working in both?
Yes and no. I think in the immediate circle of my work group and the people I interact with on a daily basis, and young people in the media, it’s never been a problem, but I think, in the media industry as a whole, and the more established circle around that, I do think people treat you slightly differently, and don’t take you as seriously. I’ve come across people who are surprised to see me as a) a girl who’s an editor of a media company already and b) in tech, so it’s a hard one, but we’re definitely not like that at Clippet. We’re all about equality!
Good! So, have you had to deal with any trolls or criticism yet?
No trolls just yet, but I’m sure it will come when we’re more public, but because we’re only 10 days into our public launch, it’s all been plain-sailing so far. We’ve had criticism though. A lot of older people have said it’s never going to work, there’s no audience for it or we’re not experienced enough, but we’re excited to prove them wrong, and I think we’re already doing that.
And how do you deal with criticism like that? It must be hard to hear.
Obviously it’s hard, because I’m not that experienced, but you’ve got to trust your instincts. At the end of the day, something needs to change in the media industry. People aren’t engaging with news as much as they should, and I just know that I need to trust my instincts, and, actually we know more about what we’re trying to do than the people who are saying we shouldn’t do it.
Who are your biggest role models then?
One person who I really admire is Lauren Laverne. I think she’s really good at popularising really interesting and cultural issues and making them exciting. I think anyone who takes difficult issues and makes them easy to understand, like Stephen Fry, for example, is really admirable.
What are your ambitions for the future of Clippet and for yourself?
We want to blaze a trail for short form audio, not just in England but, around the world. If we help engage a generation of media consumers in important issues through short form audio around the world, that would be an amazing thing. For myself, I just want to move Clippet forward and hone in on creating the best company we can.
What advice would you give to anyone wanting to start up their own company?
Don’t spend too long thinking about it, just do it and jump straight in. Don’t have any regrets, work your arse off and expect to work your arse off because it’s hard. Also, you’ve got to choose something that you’re really interested in, because you’re going to be doing it every single hour of every single day, and if that’s something you actually love, you couldn’t wish for a better job.
Want to know more about Grace? You can follow her on Twitter @Grace_Anger
Download Clippet on iOS or Android for free.
Disclosure: shinyshiny.tv’s parent company, Sutro Digital, has been working alongside the Clippet team for the launch of its app.