Rebecca Falconer is a reporter and editor at Axios, an American news website founded in 2016 and launched the following year by former Politico team members.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
I’ve been a journo for over 10 years — worked in Australia for Fairfax and News Corp before leaving for Qatar, where I worked for Al Jazeera for a year. Left after doing a special investigation for the Guardian on modern day slavery and the abuse of domestic workers there.
Freelanced for a bit in France, Spain and Belgium, mainly for online outlets but also Radio X EU in Brussels. Returned to my birthplace of London to work for the HuffPost US late team as news editor in 2015.
Moved to my hubby’s birthplace of Aotearoa New Zealand in 2017 to be Stuff’s news director (and also so I could hang out with penguins!).
I started working for Axios as their late reporter-editor in February 2019 — the best job of my career.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
I sign into Slack, essentially Axios’ virtual office, and work with my workmates in the US to monitor, write and edit stories. I post stories to social media on weekends and after 10pm ET, when the social team finishes.
I basically cover general breaking news and trending stories, using analytics and monitoring the main news sites for stories.
I feel like I get the best of both worlds on my shift. I collaborate with a really great crew at the start and work alone towards the end, which I also enjoy. I just get really excited by news stories and photos.
I always exercise before work and try to spend time with my hubby. I often help him with online posts for his business, ChargedAs, outside of work as he’s a sole trader. It can be a bit of a juggling act for him, so I’m happy to help.
But I do know more about phone charging stations than I would otherwise have chosen to know! Still, it’s a labour of love. Actually, so is my full-time job!
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
My role at Axios has always been remote-based, but this hasn’t stopped me developing close relationships with my workmates. We greeted each other like old friends when I attended an Axios retreat last January.
My work hours change four times a year because I always work 7pm-3am Eastern Time, but the clock changes are not in sync.
I love this variety. My current 1-9pm shift means I have the mornings to myself for bushwalking, cycling, swimming in the sea or helping my hubby out. He often comes with me to exercise. We love working out together at a local park gym in Auckland, walking through native rainforest as the warm-up and cool-down.
When the clocks change, I adjust these activities around my Axios work.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I love my job and working online, but staring at a computer for hours can make anyone go crazy if they do this outside of work too.
So I always step away from the online world for at least one or two hours on a working day and try to minimise my time online during my weekend (Friday and Saturday), when I often go out with the hubby on our kayak, or for a bush walk or bike ride.
Or else I go over to a mate’s for a barbie. And I meet my good mate Huia for a swim in the sea every Friday morning — even in winter. It’s really invigorating.
The only TV we really watch is at the end of the day, when we put on a comedy show online, so we basically laugh ourselves to sleep.
Doing this ensures I’m always refreshed and excited about starting work during my workday, and I never take my job for granted. I know I’m lucky to be paid for something that is my passion.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
Auckland is surrounded by water, so we bought a two-seater inflatable kayak. It fits into a kit bag we keep in the car boot. I can’t recommend it enough. I love kayaking around the harbour and in other spots, it’s a great way to explore a place.
Other than that, nothing has changed, I’ve tried to keep my phone at bay outside of work for a few years now and feel great for doing so.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I like to unwind by furthering my learning. I am currently reading A Collection of Essays by George Orwell. Writers can learn a lot from his style.
I’m not just saying it because I work for Axios, but Axios Today is an awesome podcast — it’s really insightful. And I am a big fan of Something Rhymes With the Colour Purple, by Susie Dent and Gyles Brandreth because I’m a massive word nerd and love learning about the history of the English language.
I’m signed up for all the Axios newsletters, of course. Dave Lawler publishes one of his World newsletters while I’m on shift and I often take a break just so I can read it as soon as it publishes, breaking news permitting.
I’m in awe of the health reporting team that covers the Axios Vitals newsletter. They’ve done some brilliant coverage of the pandemic in particular. I’ve learned a lot from them.
Outside of Axios, I always enjoy Matt Navara’s Geekout social media newsletter and Simon Rogers’ Google Trends newsletter as I like to stay informed on the latest social media and SEO developments.
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
All of my news apps, including the Axios app! Outside of work, news push alerts are a great way of keeping abreast with the news while still being able to go out and about.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
I’m really interested in different people’s perspectives and scientific research on this, and learning as I go. Studies suggest the practice of “forest bathing” helps alleviate stress, and this has definitely helped me. I’ve also picked up tips on having a digital detox.
I’ve read interesting articles on notable leaders’ work-life balance, like Balance the Grind’s piece on NZ PM Jacinda Ardern. It helps remind me that it’s probably not possible to “have it all”. All we can do is try our best and then we should be content enough.
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
If you do computer-based work, try to step away for at least an hour. We’re blessed with beautiful bush and beaches Down Under. So why not make the time to explore the great outdoors before you start a shift? Sometimes I have to get up early to do this on earlier work hours, but I always feel better for it.
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