Andrew Sullivan served as editor of The New Republic before becoming an early leader in the political blogging world. He now writes The Daily Dish and recently published the book The Conservative Soul: How We Lost It, How To Get It Back.
PRWeek: How did you get into journalism?
Andrew Sullivan: I guess by accident, really. I originally wanted to be either a politician or an actor, and some would say I’ve ended up conflating all of those roles into a blogger. I actually just got an internship at the Daily Telegraph in London in one of my summers off as a student. And then when I came to America I got an internship at The New Republic, in my second summer here, and I went from intern to editor. I actually worked every job in the magazine before I got the big job, so I kind of knew what the magazine was. When I became editor that was kind of useful, because I knew when they were giving me crap because I knew how the thing actually worked.
PRWeek: What do you think of The New Republic and other titles like it? Do you think they are as relevant as they used to be?
Sullivan: I think that most of the political debate that is going on at a feverish level in Washington is going on online rather than on dead trees.
I think [magazines'] role is more providing good reporting, longer essays, and in-depth criticism than it is leading the pack, as it were, in terms of what people are talking about, which is what we used to do more.
PRWeek: Do you think the state of newspapers is as bad as people are making it out to be?
Sullivan: Oh, I think it's much worse than people are making it out to be. I think newspapers are over in the way in which we've understood them.
There will always be a critical need for good reporting, and I don't think bloggers will ever be able to replicate that. I think there will always be a need for good editing, and bloggers don't have editors. But in terms of what people use to access information, I think their niche has been reduced dramatically.
PRWeek: What differences have you found between print and blogging? Do you find more freedom in this role?
Sullivan: For a writer not to have an editor, or suck up to a publisher, is what every writer since the dawn of man has dreamed of. So it is incredibly liberating. Then there's the second moment when you realize, "Oh my God, it's liberating - how do I make sure what I'm doing is good, valid, responsible, [and] accurate?" Which leads to the third nature of them, which is that I think blogs must be up-front and rather modest with their assertions about what they are doing.
PRWeek: Since the election, a lot of conservatives are talking about the Republican Party abandoning its conservative principles. What do you think about this debate?
Sullivan: I'm delighted it's happened. As you know, I argued back in 2004 that conservatives had lost their way and that actually John Kerry was more conservative than George Bush, as I understood it. So, obviously, I feel energized by this debate. I think it's a little late, but better late than never. I think for some people it still hasn't dawned on them quite how deep the crisis is.
PRWeek: Do you have any tips for PR people?
Sullivan: Yeah. Read blogs, and get to know them. Because I do think blogs now really do play a role in leading and directing the national conversation.
Name: Andrew Sullivan
Outlet: "The Daily Dish" blog at Time.com
Preferred contact method: firstname.lastname@example.org