Steve Wildstrom on the New Journalism: Fresh Ground #10

Steve Wildstrom wrote BusinessWeek’s “Technology & You” column from its creation in 1994 until BusinessWeek’s acquisition by Bloomberg in December, 2009. Fresh Ground Principal Chuck Tanowitz caught up with him at DEMO Spring 2010 where they discussed his current projects and thoughts on the future of journalism (not to mention a few business models that might work for newly independent journalists).

Some of the more interesting excerpts:

“Journalistic freelancing is very very difficult these days because, basically, pricing has gone to hell. You’ve got thousands of people out there willing to do something — I can’t say it’s really the same thing that professional journalists do, but it seems to be good enough for a lot of people — and they’re doing it for nothing.”

“It’s kind of an ethical wasteland… It’s very situational. You have to figure out the rules as you go along. One thing I have been doing is some blogging for [a company] — what amount to feature pieces… I’m not writing specifically about [their] products, but I’m writing about a field that’s of interest to them.”

“I [thought] I’d get a lot of pushback from my journalistic colleagues. I didn’t.”

“I’m also writing product reviews … that would not be published anywhere, so they can anticipate what they can expect to see when they launch.”

“I think it’s becoming important for companies to promote themselves in new ways. [Sam Whitmore] has been promoting this idea for some time: that companies, because of the changes in journalism, can’t really count on journalists to cover their products in the way they used to, and they have to get more sophisticated about basically doing internal journalism to promote their own products.”

“I am not looking to build an empire at this point in my career. I’m not looking to retire either….”

“I think that Om [Malik] has done a fabulous job [with] GigaOm Pro…. Basically he’s providing analyst-type reports really competitive with what Gartner and Forrester [do] at substantially lower prices.”

“The fact is what analysts do and what journalists do is not particularly different, they just do it for different audiences.”

“In my years with BusinessWeek, I don’t think I ever quoted an analyst…. I found quoting an analyst was a lot like quoting another journalist, which … I wouldn’t do.”

“I wish I had a copy editor [as a blogger]. Good copy editors are invaluable [and] hard to find. It drives me crazy every time I get a blog comment pointing out a grammar error, a spelling error…. I’d be a lot happier if that editing got done before it got posted.”

About the Fresh Ground Podcast: Each week, we feature 10 minutes of insights from people driving change in today’s competitive business and media landscape. We talk about the evolving worlds of media, public relations, marketing and business, with a special focus on creating more social organizations.

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1 comment to Steve Wildstrom on the New Journalism: Fresh Ground #10

  • Hi Chuck,

    I was as shocked as you to see what Bloomberg did to BusinessWeek–the list of journalists affected was appalling.

    The companies that retain journalists to create content are in the minority, but I think the number is growing. Start-ups don’t have the budgets, it seems, but mid-sized, reasonably established companies are catching on and are, as you/Mr. Wildstrom/Mr. Whitmore say, starting to think about footing the bill for the creation of in-depth articles, reviews, blog posts, etc.

    Thanks for the informative podcast.