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
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
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.’
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
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
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.’
660 Third Street
San Francisco, CA 94107
Tel: (415) 276-8400
Fax: (415) 276-8499
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