Journalist Q&A: Kara Swisher, All Things D

Kara Swisher, co-executive editor of All Things D, talks to Beth Krietsch about her passion for technology, the unique aspects of working for an online outlet, and the need for speed.

Name: Kara Swisher
Title: Co-executive editor
Outlet: All Things D
Preferred contact: kara@allthingsd.com
Website: Allthingsd.com

Kara Swisher, co-executive editor of All Things D, talks to Beth Krietsch about her passion for technology, the unique aspects of working for an online outlet, and the need for speed.

Has technology always been of interest to you?
When I first started covering AOL it just was one of those moments, like seeing Hollywood for the first time.

In 1994-95, I was using a Netscape browser and I thought, "This changes all of media." It was one of these "a-ha" moments for me. I felt as if it was something I wanted to cover. It captured my imagination. I met the people way before they became famous, so I got to know them on a much deeper level.

I just love technology, it inspires me.

It seems something big is constantly happening within tech. How do you keep up with it all?
It's so exciting. Tech is one of the few industries in the US where we are the leader - and we are a leader in innovation.

Just reflecting on someone like Steve Jobs, the man changed the world. He truly did. Even throughout his life he did. He just continued to iterate and innovate. He failed sometimes, but he succeeded wildly most of the time.

It's just always this fascinating drama of what's happening here. It's an exciting facet of business that you're just not going to get in the packaged goods industry.

What are some of the challenges of working at an online outlet?
I come from The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal with a very high standard of ethics and accuracy. It's hard to be in competition with people who don't really care. I've been very vocal about the issue, especially around certain people.

On one hand, getting that medium up to speed has been a great challenge, but a bracing one. At the same time, mainstream media thinks they have it all down, which they don't. They think because it's mainstream media they own the field, but they don't anymore. The resistance to change is a bit disconcerting, too.

You're trying to bring the ethics, accuracy, and fairness of mainstream media while also bringing in the change, excitement, and nimbleness of what's happening online. It's fun, it's interesting.

And the benefits?
I love the speed - the ability to react really quickly and have deeper relationships with readers of the site. Readers are so smart. To really write for your readers and, at the same time, maintain standards, is very exciting. Never in my career have I been so energized.

What are the biggest issues and trends you will be monitoring in the coming months?
Obviously smartphones. We've been writing for years that Web 3.0 is all about mobile. A lot of embedded technology is what's interesting to me.

Technology is in products and devices you don't normally think of - in your home, in the streets, all kinds of stuff. Everything is getting smart and using this amazing technology to start to improve our lives and make significant changes.

Now your computer is as smart as a mouse. Some day it's going to be as smart as a human and then it's going to be as smart as all humanity. The idea of this quantum leap in computing knowledge and power is just massive, it's world-changing. Geeks love to talk about Star Trek, but that's where we are headed.

I also like mobile phones. The idea of carrying around a phone in your pocket. These things are powerful, powerful devices. And then in health, the things we can do in terms of tracking health. We are at the very beginning of what could happen with that.

What is your interaction with PR pros like? What is the best way for them to pitch you?
Know what our publication is and be smart and quick about giving us information. Really use the tools of the Internet. It's a lot easier for PR people in a lot of ways, but, at the same time, there's a lot more noise.

Really smart pitches lead you to getting your information quickly. As such, all I can ask is for PR pros to use computational tools to make it easy for us.

Of course, you can't get rid of the personal relationships in all of this. You can't just rely on computing to get information out. I have PR pros whom I trust and like. They are terrific at their jobs. I hope you would not lose that within the mad tech rush. Personal one-on-one relationships are critical.

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