How This Pinay Reached Her Dream at the New York Times

By Don Tagala, ABS-CBN North America News Bureau

Posted at 07/14/2015 11:38 AM

NEW YORK – A Filipina editor at one of the world’s most respected news organizations shared that the key to her success may have been partly due to “dumb luck.”

Cielo Buenaventura is a staff editor for the Culture Section of the New York Times, one of the two known Filipinos working at the newspaper giant.

She came to the US in 1986 on a scholarship to take her masters at the Ohio State University.

“It’s a combination of audacious dreaming and dumb luck…when I went to Ohio State to take my masters, my program director was a former editor of the New York Times,” Buenaventura said.

Buenaventura used to believe that the New York Times is her Mount Everest that she would never climb. It took her about five years of hard work and persistence to become an editor at the “paper of record.”

“Why is it so successful and so prestigious? Everyday, I would really study the headlines and the stories and try to see a pattern,” she said.

Buenaventura used to work for Malaya newspaper and WHO magazine in the Philippines. She did not have any experience in reporting in the US but this did not deter her from her goals.

“I didn’t have the Harvard and the Yale and you know all the Ivy League creds of other people so I said my best way to get into this environment is to be an editor,” she said.

She learned the tricks of the trade working for daily papers such as the Stamford Advocate and New York Newsday.

In 1996, she finally climbed her ‘Everest’, a time when the entire business model for journalism was drastically changing right before her eyes all because of the Internet.

“When I was starting with the Times, we had deadlines, 9 o’clock in the evening. Now, what is the deadline? The deadline is 5 minutes from now, all these happened because of the Internet,” said Buenaventura.

She said the key to the New York Times top notch quality work lies not only from their award-winning journalists, but with its multi-layers of editing process.

“Every story, at the minimum, is edited two times. If we have to put it right away on the website, at the maximum, three of four times,” she said.

Behind a reporter’s byline is an editor like Buenaventura, making sure what gets published out there, on print and online, adheres to the New York Times’ standard of journalism excellence.




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