Ed Silverman has been covering the pharma industry for The Star-Ledger of New Jersey for more than a decade. For the past year, he's been reporting on the sector via the blog Pharmalot, named one of the top 50 business blogs by The Times of London.
PRWeek: What are the challenges with covering pharma right now?
Ed Silverman: It's a great time to be covering the pharma industry because it's really at a crossroads. There's a tremendous amount of tension within the industry to change and to figure out how to [do so].
The drugmakers all have problems, in varying degrees, trying to figure out new drugs to boost the bottom line and make shareholders happy. Almost all of them are having trouble doing that.
At the same time, they're under increasing pressure to rein in some of the practices that have been used in recent years to improve the financial performance. There are a million great stories.
The challenges, though, are perennial. By nature, the industry is a closed culture. There are legitimate concerns about intellectual property and competitiveness, but the culture is such that they aren't smart enough sometimes to open up and just talk candidly about some of the things they are trying to do differently.
PRWeek: What do you see as the role of Pharmalot, and how do you see newspapers like The Star-Ledger using blogs as something useful and unique?
Silverman: It's a survival notion. They're trying to figure out where the industry is going.
Pharmalot, as one example, has the potential to provide coverage for a key audience who in the past never read the paper, but like everyone else is migrating to the Internet.
PRWeek: Have you felt more connected as a journalist?
Silverman: Because of the nature of the Internet - more spontaneity, a lot of give and take in terms of chatter - the flow of information never stops, which makes it more challenging.
I see my role as trying to give people a look behind the curtain in terms of how the industry operates. This platform allows me to move more quickly. I can take smaller bites if I want. I can offer lots of different types of stories that appeal to a large range of people. I feel closer to almost everybody in many ways.
PRWeek: What kind of interaction do you have with PR people? Would you have any tips for them?
Silverman: I have all sorts. I've been around my job longer than many of them have been around theirs. I know a lot of the people. I'm always doing my job, but it's only a job, it's never personal.
I try to maintain healthy, professional relationships with the PR people because we need to live with each other. There are always going to be questions they don't like, but at the end of the day, we should be able to get along as humans.
Name: Ed Silverman
Outlet: The Star-Ledger (New Jersey)
Preferred contact method: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web site: StarLedger.com