JOURNALIST Q&A: John Edwards III

As a news editor at The Wall Street Journal, John Edwards' view of the media and marketing business is a lofty one. Here the one-time writer and editor for TheStreet.com talks to PRWeek about these business worlds and the Journal's new online edition dedicated to covering them.

As a news editor at The Wall Street Journal, John Edwards' view of the media and marketing business is a lofty one. Here the one-time writer and editor for TheStreet.com talks to PRWeek about these business worlds and the Journal's new online edition dedicated to covering them.

PRWeek: From the gossipy items of the tabloids to the more staid, business-oriented approaches of the national broadsheets, there's no shortage of reporting styles on the media. How would you describe the WSJ's editorial sensibility when it comes to media stories? John Edwards III: We definitely take a more business-oriented approach, although I wouldn't describe it as staid. We certainly take note of the often-outsized personalities in the media world, but in the context of stories that have some kind of business relevance. The friction between Sumner Redstone and Mel Karmazin at Viacom, for example, was a fascinating clash of two very colorful and outspoken moguls. But it was also a real business story, as the possibility that Karmazin might take his operational skills elsewhere was a weight on Viacom's stock. Things like Redstone's remarriage, however, aren't really on our radar screen as stories in their own right. We're also keenly attuned to the increasingly global nature of all businesses, and the media business is no exception. PRWeek: Has the introduction of WSJ.com's Media & Marketing Edition, which is updated continually, changed this at all? Edwards: The Media & Marketing Edition hasn't changed our fundamental approach, but it has given us an outlet for some things we haven't been able to run in the paper just because of space constraints. An example is the Advert Mailbox column by Brian Steinberg, our lead advertising columnist. PRWeek: Can you describe what makes a good marketing story for The Wall Street Journal? Edwards: One with relevance well beyond the specific company or product involved. We like stories that illustrate the state of the competitive landscape in an industry, in addition to ones that give readers a sense of what changes may lie ahead. Obviously, stories on larger companies often have impact just based on the sheer weight of market share those companies control. But we also like stories on smaller companies or innovations, as long as they're part of an identifiable trend that might have a broader impact. We're generally not interested in minor product announcements or low-level personnel shifts. PRWeek: With the new edition, do you see the paper paying closer attention to the PR industry? Edwards: Not necessarily because of the new edition, but I would like to see us look more at the PR side of things. We've covered the way the big ad-holdings companies have increasingly branched into marketing services, including PR, as a hedge against the cyclical nature of advertising. That's a rich coverage area and worth more attention. Name: John Edwards III Publication: The Wall Street Journal Title: News editor Preferred contact method: john.edwards@wsj.com Website: wsj.com

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