New media faces take center stage

As many veteran journalists accept buyouts or leave the profession for other reasons, there is a younger generation ready to take on the challenges of reporting in a new age.

As many veteran journalists accept buyouts or leave the profession for other reasons, there is a younger generation ready to take on the challenges of reporting in a new age.

Michael Barbaro
Reporter, The New York Times

At 28 years old, reporter Michael Barbaro has beats at two of the world's most respected newspapers, The New York Times and the Washington Post, on his resume. Calling the retail beat "a lens... through which to view our culture," Barbaro, who will soon switch to covering City Hall, is always looking at the big picture.

"The first question I ask [when pitched a story] is whether this is bigger than the one product or chain that the person pitching represents," he says. "Narrow is our enemy; we want things broad. So I'm always asking people to help me link this to something bigger going on out there. Often times, PR [pros] haven't quite thought that through, which I think they should, because the moment you can put that in a bigger framework, that gets our juices flowing."

Exclusives remain important, but in an age when thousands of blogs provide up-to-the-minute information, the public craves stories that provide more than what is available on most news Web sites. Therefore, Barbaro emphasizes the need for breaking news stories and reports with a greater context than what other news sites are providing.

"Yes, exclusives are getting sliced up into smaller parts, but we still value them, and I'm always telling people, 'I wish you had called me before you announced this,'" he says. "Yet, as the news industry gets populated by more and more Web sites and blogs and trade publications, we are gravitating towards bigger thoughts. While we always care about being first and getting scoops, there's a huge appetite for stories that step back and think the big thought."

Kristin Bentz
Managing editor, RealMoney.com

After getting laid off during a corporate restructuring at global investment bank Lehman Brothers in 2006, Kristin Bentz started a blog called Talented Blonde (www.talentedblonde.com/blog), providing an unconventional look at the retail and fashion industries.

Last August, she got a phone call from TV personality and former hedge fund manager Jim Cramer, a co-founder of TheStreet.com, asking her if she'd be interested in writing for the Web site. Despite having no professional journalism experience, the 38-year-old Bentz accepted a job as managing editor at TheStreet.com's RealMoney subscription site.

Bentz, an English literature major in college, says that she looks for story ideas that can educate consumers about the retail industry without scaring them.

"I like to bring people in and really educate [them] about retail, because consumer spending is three-quarters of the GDP, and that's buying power," she says. "The consumer is in a really tough spot right now, so the key is to make [a story] appealing to everyone. A lot of people are intimidated by finance, but it's just like art. Art doesn't need to be snobby. It needs to be told or brought forth in a way where it's accessible to everyone."

Garrett Graff
Editor-at-large, Washingtonian

At just 26 years old, Garrett Graff is already enough of a journalism icon that his favorite tie - the one he wore when he became the first blogger to report from a White House press briefing - hangs in the recently opened Newseum in Washington DC. Prior to working as the founding editor of the Fishbowl DC blog and Washingtonian, Graff worked as deputy national press secretary for former Vermont Gov. Howard Dean during his campaign for the 2004 Democratic Presidential nomination.

Working as Dean's first Webmaster in 1997, Graff was part of the political revolution on the Web that made Dean the unexpected Democratic frontrunner in the run up to 2004's Iowa Caucuses. Today, Internet-based video is revolutionizing journalism in a similar way.

"In the magazine, we might only have room for four photos [accompanying a story], but we can run a slideshow on the Web that is 40 photos from that story, and it gives readers a different sense," he says. "At a monthly print magazine 10 years ago, you would've never thought about those different ways to tell a part of a story."

Because the Web - and an abundance of reporters and editors covering politics - cut the amount of time a news organization can "own" an exclusive story, reporters differentiate themselves by adding context to a story.

"I would actually argue that experience, knowledge, and background is more important today in journalism than ever... before," he says. "The true value of a reporter now is what perspective and intelligence they can bring to a story that is more than the sum of the information they are reporting."

Caroline McCarthy
Staff writer, CNET

CNET technology staff writer and blogger Caroline McCarthy was in her pajamas, reading a book one night in late 2006, when her roommate came home and told her people were lining up outside a Best Buy store in Manhattan's Union Square neighborhood - days before the PlayStation 3 was released in North America. So she did what any ambitious technology blogger or reporter would do: went to the scene, interviewed people, and filed the story for CNET.

"With technology, where the online reporting is so prolific, it's more around-the-clock than other beats," she says. "You're connected to the Web, and you're connected to the whole world all the time."

McCarthy, 23, cites TechMeme.com - a news aggregation Web site that ranks stories by how frequently they're talked about on the Internet - as an example of how difficult it is in the Internet age to hold an exclusive story.

"You have a ton of people, and a ton of very good reporters, saying the very same things about the very same subjects. Even though there's a ton of news out there, you get a lot of people jumping on the bandwagon if someone else is covering [a story]," she says. "[The key is], you look at a story and you look at it in the context of what has happened and what might happen, and you try to put a new angle on it."

Other journalists on the radar

Katie Brenner
reporter, Fortune

Brian Lam
editor, Gizmodo

Cheryl Lu-Lien Tan
reporter, Wall Street Journal

Laura Petrecca
reporter, USA Today

David Sterrett
reporter, Crain's Chicago

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