Farhad Manjoo is a Salon staff writer, covering technology and tech culture on the blog, The Machinist. His first book, True Enough: Learning to Live in a Post-Fact Society, about propaganda in the digital age, will be published this year.
PRWeek: How do you explain The Machinist? Is it a blog that's looking at the intersection of technology and pop culture?
Farhad Manjoo: That's a good description. It's sort of Internet culture and technology - I write about gadgets a lot. It's a mix between a gadget blog and a blog like Boing Boing, and it's also newsy sometimes, where I write about things that are politics-related - that don't have that much to do with the Internet, but are kind of modern in some way.
PRWeek: It seems like the subject matter is pretty varied on the blog. What are your parameters for subject matter and do you have a sense of your audience?
Manjoo: I don't really have a sense of who the audience is. I try to find two or three things that are just interesting to me - things I can write about. I think it's [about] how technology is changing communications and how we talk to each other.
I try to imagine the audience as not being especially tech savvy. One of the things I think is fun is writing about technical things in a way people can understand. I see that as a challenge. I don't imagine a lot of the readers are Silicon Valley types. I rarely write about Silicon Valley business.
PRWeek: What do you think about the press' ability to cover technology issues?
Manjoo: I don't think [the press is] completely good at it, and I think that some of the best reporting on the Internet can be found only on the Internet - [on] blogs and things like that.
There are exceptions. The New York Times does a great job covering the Internet, so it's not like the old media is bad at it. The kind of people who are looking for the kinds of stories I write are looking on the Internet anyway.
PRWeek: Salon has been around longer than most online publications. Do you see its influence - and online publications' influence, in general - increasing?
Manjoo: I think Salon's [influence] and the influence of other online publications is increasing. I also think that what's happening is everyone's sort of getting equalizing influence. It sort of doesn't really matter [what] the medium [is] anymore, because people look everywhere. I think people read news through filters anyway.
PRWeek: What kind of interaction do you have with PR people? Do you have any tips for them?
Manjoo: My communication with PR people is mainly through the press releases they send me. They're generally about new things that are coming out, [although] I rarely write about something from those releases. My tip would just be to develop a relationship with the publication you're targeting.
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