I first met Steve Baker several years ago when he was working on his book The Numerati. This was after he had already co-authored an influential cover story on blogs for BusinessWeek that acted as a wakeup call to corporate America. The message: ignore blogs (and social media) at your peril.
His later cover story on math lead to a book contract for the Numerati, for which he took a sabbatical from his long-time weekly reporting job. Of course, he had to come back to BusinessWeek before setting off again, but this time the decision was made for him. Bloomberg had purchased the venerable publication from McGraw-Hill and changes there included massive layoffs.
Steve now blogs on his own site is writing a new book, which is due out in early 2011. During his interview with us via Skype, he talked about leaving BusinessWeek and starting a new phase of journalistic life. Among the interesting quotes from the interview:
"I didn't enjoy my time back [at BusinessWeek after the first book-leave] as much, in part because the magazine was failing and it's no fun to be part of sinking ship."
"The money [at Bloomberg] comes from the data, journalism by itself couldn't create the kind of empire they have"
"The advertisers can tune into your own interest and your behaviors, learn about you and target you with advertising, so they get to know you much better than an advertiser in a print publication."
"I think you need to accompany book writing these days with blogging and keeping up with people on Twitter and other more social media platforms. And then once you do a book then perhaps you can get more revenue by doing things like speaking."
"The one positive that comes out of [the changes in journalism] is that there is more opportunity for people in their 20s because organizations are getting rid of people like me in their 40s and 50s."
"Even writing about IBM… I'm benefiting from IBM's own publicity and in a sense I'm part of it. That puts me in a different role and I just have to be clear with people about what my possible conflicts are… but it's something that we all deal with in one way or another because we have to find new revenue streams."