September 2015 marks Ki Sung’s one-year anniversary as senior editor of KQED’s blog MindShift, which explores the future of learning in all its dimensions. Since she took the job, MindShift has gained 60 percent more users, page views and sessions. It has added 100,000 Facebook fans and more than doubled its Twitter followers. Ki sat down over the summer to talk about the joys and challenges of her job as well as the future of MindShift.
Where did you work before KQED?
I was at NPR West [in Culver City, CA] working as a digital news trainer.
What does that mean?
That means I helped NPR member stations, including KQED, learn the skills needed to create content for a growing digital audience, including writing, photography, aggregation, content strategy and organizational issues.
What drew you to KQED?
Mindshift drew me to KQED. The content, the stories and the insights are outstanding and always thought provoking. Before Tina Barseghian, the founding editor, left, I had been pitching her ideas and strategizing about content. She encouraged me to apply for the job and it ended up being a fairly smooth fit.
Who else is on the MindShift team?
Katrina Schwartz is our staff writer. She has a deep understanding of what educators face. We also have a stable of contributing freelancers, many of whom have developed niches with our audience. Linda Flanagan writes extensively about podcasts, an emerging classroom tool thanks to Radiolab and Serial. Luba Vangelova introduces readers to the world beyond conventional education in her coverage of unschooling and democratic schools. Paul Darvasi is a leader in game-based learning and Holly Korbey understands the struggles of underprivileged kids.
MindShift is the most popular site on KQED.org. That must be rewarding, but it also must be challenging to keep the level of readership high.
There’s a huge spectrum of educational content available, but we’re laser-focused on learning. That allows us to stay no to a lot of things, but it also makes it more of a challenge to find that one story that is really exciting. That said, we put a lot of thought, care and intentionality into each post and it shows in our audience growth.
What do you like about your job?
I mostly interact with readers online, but some of the major professional development conferences happen in the summer, so recently I’ve been traveling across the country, meeting readers face-to-face. Hearing firsthand how people are actually using our coverage is really inspiring.
I’ve heard about teachers who hotly debated a MindShift article in their latest staff meeting. I just heard from a superintendent who emails MindShift stories to her educators because she wants them to be aware of the issues that we’re covering. To know that teachers are finding MindShift useful is really satisfying. We’re doing our jobs.
What are some things you’re excited about?
We really want to create events to bring educators together. I think they do a great job finding each other on social media, but we’re looking to take it to the next level, whether that’s in-person networking events or a new social media community. You can also look forward to a podcast, naturally.
My last question is distinctly not work related. Do you have a guilty pleasure?
This is the one question I prepared the most for. Hot core power yoga with weights.
Hot core power yoga with weights. All right. Why is that a guilty pleasure?
Because it seems antithetical to yoga. Right? There’s really loud music. It almost feels like you’re in a club. It feels wrong, but it also feels amazing.
Have you been doing it for a long time?
About a month. I did Vinyasa for a long time. If the instructor I used to practice with knew, I would feel shame.
So it’s guilt in the context of the yoga community!
It’s something that doesn’t feel right, but it feels good.