S. Mitra Kalita | Mentor

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MIJE Staff
April 30, 2014

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Twitter Chat, Wed. 5/7
4-5 ET | 3 to 4 CT| 2–3 MT| 1–2 PT
Follow S. Mitra Kalita at @mitrakalita
Follow #maynardmentor

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Our discussion with S. Mitra Kalita will combine our weekly #diversitychat and #maynardmentor chat. Here are two of Mitra's pieces that reflect on diversity:

Please take this pledge: I will not hire the unqualified children of my friends as summer interns - qz.com

The Supreme Court sent the Fisher case back, but make no mistake: Affirmative action is dead - qz.com

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S. Mitra Kalita is the ideas editor at Quartz. She worked previously at The Wall Street Journal, where she oversaw coverage of the Great Recession, launched a local news section for New York City and, most recently, reported on the housing crisis. She also launched Mint, a business paper in New Delhi, and has previously worked for the Washington Post, Newsday and the Associated Press. She is the author of three books related to migration and globalization, and speaks seven languages (but only four of them well). She is an adjunct professor of journalism at St. John's and Columbia universities, and previously served as president of the South Asian Journalists Association. Born in Brooklyn, Mitra was raised in Long Island, Puerto Rico and New Jersey—with regular trips to her grandparents’ villages in Assam, India. She lives (and eats) in the Jackson Heights neighborhood of New York City, along with her artist husband and two daughters. She tweets @mitrakalita and her website is www.mitrakalita.com.

S. Mitra Kalita Q & A

Q: What are two important skills a journalist should have?

A: Curiosity about the world around them--and the ones that feel so far removed. The mind of a journalist hears of a news development and immediately races to figure out dozens of angles and ways in. Inherent curiosity also helps us cede that others tend to know more about stories and subjects than we ever will.

Commitment and work ethic to figure things out, follow the money, untangle the mess. It's too complicated? It's not a good story if it's easy.

Q: What is the key to working well with your boss?

A: Communication and loyalty but also shape yourself and what you bring to the table. Ask yourself, "If I didn't exist in this newsroom, in this person's life, what might not have happened? What stories wouldn't be told/edited/written?"

Q: If you could have a do-over in your career, what would that be?

A: I have walked into so many newsrooms and devalued what I bring and what I know. As a first-time manager, I think I got too chummy with the people who worked for me. When I have worked for big newspapers, in hindsight, I wonder if I fully appreciated the platforms they offer, the Twitter followings I could have grown, the change I could have effected.

Q: What is the most important issue facing journalism today? 

A: I got into this industry to ensure a diversity of voices and coverage always permeate the mainstream. That goal remains unfinished, even as the definition of mainstream keeps changing.

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