Where Have All The Journalists Gone?

TechCrunch is reporting that technology journalist Dan Lyons is leaving his job as Editor-in-Chief of ReadWrite to join the software company HubSpot. What would compel a veteran journalist (and one who often generated controversy in his industry, whether it was parodying Steve Jobs  or deflating major egos) to leave the top editorial position at a popular outlet to work in-house at a technology company?

Many reasons, it turns out.

For one, the wonderful art of journalism is still in a state of decline in “traditional” media (the kind where Lyons’ writing flourished). Opportunities for talented writers like Lyons are diminishing, and many journalists would rather see their byline than run their own blog. However, brands are now generating as much content as bloggers themselves. While the in-house content is certainly very biased towards the brand and have a very specific, company-focused agenda, there’s no denying that content is now king, and every company worth their stock options recognizes this (and in no industry is this more prevalent than technology).

Like PR and advertising, journalism is reshaping itself to fit in this new, digital marketing landscape. Throw in a likely cushy paycheck and the promise of freedom and you might just see more defections.

We’ve already seen talented journalists whose work we’ve admired do what Lyons is doing, from Caroline McCarthy, formerly of CNET (lured away by Google) to Rafe Needleman, also formerly at CNET (he left for Evernote). The companies they’re choosing are savvy and content-driven, and generally quite forward-thinking.

We don’t want to see good journalists go in-house (although we welcome our arms to any talented journalist who would like to write for us! Call us!) but given the state of things, it’s not surprising that they do. What will be worth noting is how these positions go for these typically free-spirited journalists. How tight of  a leash will they be kept on writing for corporate brands? How much will they have to play the corporate game? It remains to be seen, though no one has yet to jump ship. Given that most news outlets are already corporate-owned (and we’ve already seen much tension in this perilous relationship, most recently with the CBS-owned CNET), it’s not as much of a stretch as one would think.

While jobs in journalism might be waning, writing jobs for brands certainly isn’t, and marks a shift in how content is both viewed and presented.


In Praise of my Dumbphone

I don’t own a smartphone.

You’d be astonished at the reactions I get from people when they discover this. It ranges from laughter to disbelief to derision to being outright offended. People are actually horrified when they learn that I don’t have a smartphone. They look at me like I’m a leper, like I just offered them tickets to the Nickelback/Creed concert. They wonder how I can function socially and ask me funny questions, like “how do you get to places without GPS?” (Answer: I look up directions beforehand, familiarize myself with streets and signs, and at worse, I <gasp> ask a stranger. People are generally nice and helpful when you ask them politely).

I’m no Luddite. I am proud to work in technology PR. I respect technology and embrace our social progress thanks to it. I’m glued to my iPad when I’m sitting in front of the TV. I have a simple reason for not wanting a smartphone: I don’t need one.

My phone can text and make/receive calls. And that’s really all I need it for.

I don’t want to be the person who is glued to her smartphone while the building behind me is burning, who tunes the world out so that she can check her Facebook newsfeed. I like people, and I like my surroundings. I’m lucky enough to live in one of the most beautiful cities in the world (San Francisco). It’s filled with all kinds of bizarre dichotomies and every kind of personality and lifestyle imaginable. Plus, I really need to watch my step in this city. For better or worse, I’m one of those people who is very inspired by my surroundings.

I get motivated by what I see, what I experience, by people I talk to and people I listen to, by conversations overheard. I like seeing what people are doing on their smartphones (and seriously, there are a lot of people looking at NSFW content out in public). It’s why I work in PR.

PR is not just about pitching media. It’s about understanding how the world works, and on a micro level, how people interact with one another. If I’m glued to my smartphone all day, I’m not going to experience that. My creativity only flows when I’m in an open environment. I’ve never been able to come up with good ideas sitting in my office. The ideas come to me when I’m walking around, talking to or observing people. I write all of my ideas down. With a pen and paper.

Given that I work in technology PR, someone once asked me if it was detrimental to my profession to not have a smartphone. I told them that it was detrimental to my profession to have one.

I’ve got no criticisms for smartphones. This is not a diatribe urging people to get off their phones or to be a weirdo like me. It works for me and probably for very few others. This post isn’t accompanied by a stock photo of some nature-loving hippie. I don’t blame anyone for having, and loving, their smartphones. But don’t judge me for not having one. It’s a lifestyle choice, and for me, it’s a good one. And hey, it’s not like I asked you to go to the Nickelback/Creed concert with me.

By Katy

Sight and Sound

When HP kicked off their worldwide campaign for their sweet new Envy 27 monitors, featuring Beats by Dre Audio, they wisely turned to visual effects house (and Change Communications client) Rogues Gallery. The visual wizards at Rogues, who have experience with pre and post production, in addition to live effects and computer graphics (CG), created this stunner:

Check out the writeup in Animation World Network and SHOOT Online.

Contact Rogues Gallery if you require more than just photoshopping your cat into all of your vacation photos.