Interview: Matthew Flamm

As media reporter for Crain's New York Business, Matthew Flamm covers all aspects of the industry, including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and book publishing.

As media reporter for Crain's New York Business, Matthew Flamm covers all aspects of the industry, including TV, radio, newspapers, magazines, and book publishing.

He also writes the magazine's "New York, New York" column. Prior to coming to Crain's, he wrote a book publishing column in the New York Post and was a freelance columnist for Entertainment Weekly.

PRWeek: Are there any challenges to covering the media industry?

Matthew Flamm:
At a weekly, it can be hard. I have to really pick and choose my stories because I only have one major story a week to do. I must look for things that are not covered by everybody else all week long, or I have to find my own angle on that story.

Sometimes people will pitch me stories and say, "Oh this is a great story. The New York Times did this last week." Basically if the Times or The Wall Street Journal does it, we either stay away from it or we really have to find something new or different to make it worth doing.

PRWeek: What do you see as the biggest issue in media right now?

Flamm:
The whole transition going on; the battle between old media and new media. Also, the way that new media is affecting and challenging old media, and how old media is dealing with it. That is a big part of the story that cuts across all the different industries.

PRWeek: How do PR pros affect your job?

Flamm:
For me, PR pros are helpful in terms of putting me in touch with the people I need to talk to. What PR people often pitch to me tends not to be what I'm looking for. In part that's because I'm looking for stories that have tension. PR people don't want stories with tension; they want happy stories about their clients. It's impossible for me to do those stories. Nobody in the world is going to read them.

PRWeek: What advice would you offer to PR pros?

Flamm:
The PR people that work the best for me tend to have an understanding of the industry, can talk to me about it, explain things to me, and show me where there's a story where I might not have seen one.

The best PR people will tell me things about the industry that may not, at that time, benefit their client. I talk to them regularly because they know the industry that they're working in. I can go to them and say, "This is what someone told me. Is this accurate?" and I can trust them to give me a reasonably honest answer.

The people who are the most helpful to me have been in the industry a long time. They're really thinking more about the industry than they are about their clients the whole time.

PRWeek: What do you see as the future of print media?

Flamm:
It's problematic, but it still always strikes me as ironic that everyone talks about people getting their news from the internet and bloggers. Generally, the news that they're getting is the online version of a newspaper or they're reading a blog, which is linking to newspaper or magazine articles.

I just think that the owners of these media properties have to figure out ways to continue to make money and grow. I think it's disingenuous, however, to say that old media is pass? or
losing its relevance. If anything, the bloggers show that it's more relevant than ever.

Name: Matthew Flamm
Publication: Crain's New York Business
Title: Media reporter
Preferred contact method: mflamm@crain.com
Website: newyorkbusiness.com

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