Editors / Interviews

Balancing the Grind with Danielle Cronin, Editor of The Brisbane Times

Danielle Cronin is the editor of The Brisbane Times, founding member of Women in Media Queensland and also serves on the board of Women in Media Australia.

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1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?

I have been a journalist for more than two decades, working in regional, metropolitan and overseas newsrooms.

After several years in the Canberra press gallery, I moved back to my home town and joined the Brisbane Times in 2011. I’m currently the editor – a role that can involve everything from ordering notebooks to steering legally sensitive, exclusive stories through to publication.

In my spare time, I volunteer with Women in Media. I am a founding member of Women in Media Queensland and serve on the board of Women in Media Australia. It is a wonderful organisation devoted to mentoring, networking and professional development.

2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?

One of the many great things about journalism is that every workday is varied.

One minute, I am talking to a breaking news reporter about the latest on a bushfire on Fraser Island. Five minutes later, I am on the phone with the state political reporter to discuss a story idea.

My workday usually kicks off about 5.30am, when I read news sites, flick between breakfast television shows, listen to radio headlines, skim social media and check email and Slack for anything that needs urgent attention.

I get to the newsroom at about 7am. Local and national news conferences are staples but the rest of the day is devoted to tasks such as developing stories for each edition, ensuring the homepage is as strong as possible, checking readers’ responses to our work, pitching in on production, conducting check-ins with my team and meeting with colleagues and contacts.
It is never dull. It is never predictable.

3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?

Before the coronavirus pandemic, I thought it would be tricky for an entire newsroom to operate effectively while we were all working from home. After all, I had no first-hand experience with remote working before COVID-19.

While we all missed the special hum of a newsroom and faced challenges converting quick face-to-face chats to Slack threads, the team performed extraordinarily well.

In 2020, we spent more time working from home than in the newsroom during a period when we were covering the COVID-19 pandemic, two statewide elections and major breaking news in our patch.

We have always valued flexible working arrangements and the pandemic has confirmed that it fits within our lives and roles.

4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?

Friends and colleagues would probably say that I am rubbish at work-life balance. In my role, I can’t perfectly balance the professional and personal.

Some workdays are frenetic. For instance, Queensland’s election day coincided with “life-threatening” storms across the south-east. We were deftly juggling to ensure our readers had the most up-to-date and comprehensive information on both.

On those days, balance is a remote notion. I do aim for work-life harmony, which involves tackling the demands of work but making time for important personal commitments such as spending time with family and friends.

Every day, I try to do something that brings me joy beyond work. If I’m time poor, it could be blasting a few tunes on Spotify or watching an episode of a favourite television show. If I have more time, it could be having lunch with family, catching up with a friend for a drink, heading to the movies or spending a Sunday morning at the Gallery of Modern Art.

5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?

Yes. I have asked my team to call if they need me over the weekend to reduce the amount of time I spend monitoring email and Slack. I aim to do a final check of email and messages at 10pm every day, to improve the quality of my sleep.

I’m giving meditation another crack. In an earlier attempt, I found it near-impossible to stop thinking about dozens of different things when trying to meditate and concluded I was just one of those people who couldn’t do it.

Then, I listened to a Women in Media Bytes session featuring Turning Down the Noise author Christine Jackman and Dr Libby Sander who is an assistant professor of organisational behaviour at Bond University. All hope is not lost.

6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?

So many. I can’t seem to walk past a bookstore without buying a book. It’s impossible to pick a favourite but I’m currently reading The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore. It’s fascinating.

On podcasts, I subscribe to This American Life, It’s All Journalism, Lore, You Must Remember This and In the Dark. The final one was recommended by a friend, who is one of the best crime reporters in the country, and it is an extraordinary example of forensic, investigative journalism.

I have signed up for many, many newsletters. Bless email filters! Most newsletters that land in my inbox are sent by local and international news outlets, including the one that employs me. Setting those aside, my favourites are Quartz Daily Brief, Medium Daily Digest, Atlas Obscura and Try This! — Tools for Journalism.

7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?

Answering a similar question at a health retreat was met with horrified looks from my fellow guests. I’m sure there is nothing wrong with having a desktop, laptop, tablet, smart speaker and two smartphones?

Beyond gadgets, Slack, WhatsApp and email, I wouldn’t want to live without email filters, Todoist, Toby for Chrome, Canva, Spotify and a ready supply of medium point blue pens and notebooks.

8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?

I don’t have a particular person in mind but would like to read frank accounts of the work-life balance struggles from leaders who seem, to the outside observer, to have it all worked out. You have probably heard the saying: “You have as many hours in the day as Beyonce”. I’m sure even Queen B has days when it’s a challenge to juggle her work, family and social life.

9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

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About Author

Hey there! I'm Hao, the Editor-in-Chief at Balance the Grind. We’re on a mission to showcase healthy work-life balance through interesting stories from people all over the world, in different careers and lifestyles.