Interview: Tom Foremski

In May 2004, Tom Foremski took a huge risk. He left one of the top jobs in tech journalism - Silicon Valley reporter and columnist for the Financial Times - to start a blog about the business and culture of Silicon Valley.

In May 2004, Tom Foremski took a huge risk. He left one of the top jobs in tech journalism - Silicon Valley reporter and columnist for the Financial Times - to start a blog about the business and culture of Silicon Valley.

While many journalists blog in addition to their day jobs, Foremski was arguably the first journalist from a major publication to quit to become a full-time blogger. Now, Foremski may be even more influential than when he was with the FT.

PRWeek: Do you feel you are more influential as a blogger?
Tom Foremski:
Yes, I do. I can publish more. I'm freer to say the things I think are important. Sometimes at publications such as the Financial Times, there is a regional disconnect. When your editors are 6,000 miles away, it can take them a while to understand the importance of a story to Silicon Valley. People always ask how many visitors I have. But that's not how I measure how successful or influential I am. It's when I walk into a room and someone says they read me and share what I'm writing with their team - that's how I gauge my success.

PRWeek: What influence do you think your blog has had on journalists getting into blogging?
Foremski:
I've told journalists in the mainstream press to start blogging now, that they want to build their own media brand, because by blogging for [a media company], they're still being edited by the copy editors who edit the regular copy. And even though more journalists are blogging, a lot of them are being pushed into it. They just feel it's more work because there have been so many cutbacks in print media. And those journalists do not own the blogging brand they're developing. Blogging demands a voice, and it takes a while to develop that voice.

PRWeek: What's your take on the state of print journalism?
Foremski:
It won't go away, but the business model that is based on print ads is changing faster than we think. Print will be with us. It's not about print versus online; it's about finding the best distribution channel to make money and support the best quality journalism. And we don't have that yet.

PRWeek: How has your approach to journalism evolved?
Foremski:
I can write a story, find a good angle, and have something interesting to say about a topic that has been covered by thousands of people. And I can write it whenever I feel like it. I can write part of it and add to it, and it changes and grows. It's like a snowball rolling down a hill. It collects comments and information, and it gets richer.

PRWeek: What's your take on the state of blogs today?
Foremski:
It will shake out because not everyone will get an audience. They'll get fed up that only five people read it. There is still a bit of a novelty factor. But it's a good thing to own your own name online. It's important for journalists to have a presence on the web... [Blogging represents] the way society thinks. This is the way it tries to figure out solutions. And we need a vibrant, truthful media to get there, and blogging is a response to that. Mainstream media is being decimated. Newsrooms are shrinking. Hopefully journalists are watching what people like me do. And if the water is warm, hopefully they'll jump in.

Name: Tom Foremski
Site: SiliconValleyWatcher.com
Title: Founder/publisher
Preferred contact method: tom@siliconvalleywatcher.com

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