MEDIA: Wired.com: technology news that’s easy to swallow - If you send a compelling consumer pitch via e-mail, you’ll get the attention of the Wired.com news editors. Claire Atkinson finds out what’s fueling this tech site

The staff at Wired News is fed bagels and cream cheese in the morning, treated to candy mid-afternoon and bestowed with a keg of beer and pizza on Fridays. It’s no wonder they joke about being ’conTENT editors’ as well as ’CONtent editors.’

The staff at Wired News is fed bagels and cream cheese in the morning, treated to candy mid-afternoon and bestowed with a keg of beer and pizza on Fridays. It’s no wonder they joke about being ’conTENT editors’ as well as ’CONtent editors.’

The staff at Wired News is fed bagels and cream cheese in

the morning, treated to candy mid-afternoon and bestowed with a

keg of beer and pizza on Fridays. It’s no wonder they joke about

being ’conTENT editors’ as well as ’CONtent editors.’



The Wired News team is located in the Soma (South of Market Area)

district of San Francisco, a section almost completely

regenerated by IPO-funded web firms. The once-derelict

neighborhood is now buzzing with clattering keyboards and the

ker-ching of cash registers.



Wired News is part of Wired.com, one of the first Internet brands

to gain mass recognition. Wired News has been in existence since

November 1996. According to its web site, it serves one million

readers a month and has 600,000 e-mail subscribers; that puts it

in the MediaMetrix Digital Media top 500.



The site, which documents ’technologies, companies and people

driving the information age’ is operated by web media firm Lycos.

Lycos acquired Wired Digital in June 1999. Wired News sits

alongside other Lycos properties such as satirical site Suck.com

and search engine Hotbot.com.



Wired News has little association with its magazine namesake,

which is now owned by Conde Nast. ’It is a separate operation -

no one who works for us works for them,’ explains Jon Rochmis,

who is responsible for business and politics coverage. The

magazine is, however, featured on the Wired.com web site.



Rochmis joined Wired News from SF Gate, a Bay Area-focused news

site that combines articles from the San Francisco Chronicle,

Examiner, KRON-TV and Bay-TV. He clearly relishes working at the

heart of the new information age.



’I worked in newspapers for 15 years and you would work one day

and see (the story) the next day,’ Rochmis explains. ’Here you do

your work and you see it, there is an immediacy. It is the medium

of choice for breaking news. Newspapers are not a growth

industry.’



Wired News is updated by its staff five to six times a day. There

are two news editors, who split shifts so the news is covered

around the clock.



James Glave, who launched and ran an adventure travel channel for

HotWired before joining, works the early part of the day. He

starts into his bagel and cream cheese at 6:30 am and works until

noon.



Marilynn Wheeler takes over at midday, working until 8 pm. The

team works to Pacific Standard Time deadlines of 3 am, 9 am,

noon, 2 pm and 4 pm.



Glave combs the newspapers to see how they moved on stories, then

scours his e-mail and wire services such as PRNewswire and

Business Wire. He then spends the rest of the morning assigning

news stories before working on longer-term projects. He also

keeps a watchful eye on CNN and CNBC.



Wired News’ latest scoop was a story about Hotmail hackers who

had broken a code, giving them the ability to impersonate

e-mailers. Rochmis says Wired News picked up the item from a

Swedish newspaper that had written about the hackers. The US

media went wild about the story.



’We are very consumer-focused,’ says Glave, explaining how Wired

News is different from other technology- and business-oriented

sites. ’PR people think we are a computer trade. We are not

interested in Cisco’s new router, yadda, yadda, yadda.’



Wired News is broken down into four sections: business,

technology, politics and culture. The news team of 30 explores

how technology is impacting all aspects of life, including

medicine. Med-Tech Center looks at issues such as the genes that

cause sleep disorders, the mind’s ability to heal the body and

the price of extending your life.



The business section might include a piece on Viacom’s merger

with CBS, while the culture section might tackle the post-Blair

Witch rush to make digital films. Then of course there’s the

mandatory Y2K Watch. ’The millennium will be all hands on deck,’

says Rochmis, who expects to be working over the holidays. ’Think

of all those people whose lives have been consumed by this - it

is a huge story in itself.’



Harebrained ideas



Glave says the site is not particularly interested in executive

profiles - unless it’s Bill Gates - nor does Wired News cover

many surveys. Rochmis suggests that the more ’harebrained’ an

idea, the more likely it is he will take a look. He also says

that the mostly young team is adept at picking up cutting-edge

stories.



Wired News is keen on covering conferences, and if there is a

technology issue on the agenda that should be emphasized.

Comments made by musician Thomas Dolby about how the music

industry is abusing fans were widely covered by Wired News. Glave

says that the news desk needs to know about breaking news by 6:30

am PST: He adds, ’If you are offering us someone to talk to, we

need cell number, pager number. They have to be accessible.’ Time

constraints also prevent reporters from attending many client

briefings.



Glave explains that reporters hate sitting and watching corporate

presentations when they could be chasing news.



If you want to pitch items., Glave suggests the first stop should

be the news editors, who will direct you to the right reporter.

’It is pretty fluid, we all do each other’s jobs,’ he explains.

But whatever you do, don’t bother sending a fax. ’I hate faxes,’

Glave says. ’It is a machine that spews out all day and is

constantly running out of paper and memory.’



So by what medium should pros approach Wired News? Says Glave:

’It is e-mail or die.’



CONTACT LIST

Wired News

660 Third Street

Fourth Floor

San Francisco, CA 94107

Tel: (415) 276-8400

Fax: (415) 276-8499

Email:tips@wired.com

Web: www.wired.com

Editor-in-chief: George Shirk

News editors: James Glave Marilynn Wheeler

Managing editor: Alison Macondray

Content editors: John Rochmis (business and politics)

Judy Bryan (culture)

John Gartner (technology)

Chief Washington correspondent: Declan McCullagh



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