Journalist Q&A: Om Malik, GigaOM

OmMalik founded publishing network GigaOM Network in 2006, which delivers technology news, analysis, opinion, as well as hosting conferences and producing Web videos.

Name: Om Malik
Title: founder/senior writer
Outlet: GigaOm Network
Preferred e-mail address: om@gigaom.com
Web site: www.gigaom.com

OmMalik founded publishing network GigaOM Network in 2006, which delivers technology news, analysis, opinion, as well as hosting conferences and producing Web videos. The network reaches about 1.75 million people and has expanded its reach through the conferences. Malik spoke to Aarti Shah about the latest issues facing bloggers.

First, let's be clear about how you perceive blogging versus journalism?

Om Malik: I've never seen there to be a difference. I come from a news background, so I see that blogging is more personalized and definitely more colorful. But it's good to make people want to read your stuff. It can't be bone-dry. I do see journalism as being a hub. It's also a starting point for conversation; the conversations end up being news themselves – Politico, the Huffington Post are really great examples of this.

Do you think it was unethical for TechCrunch to post documents about Twitter that the source had allegedly obtained illegally?

Malik: I can't really comment on it. It didn't happen to me. Whether it's an anonymous tip or an anonymous source, I'd always fact-check it. But everyone can have different rules and that's the crucial difference right now. There are no clearly defined rules.

Are exclusives still valuable to the media?

Malik: I don't think it's an exclusive if somebody gives you a story. You have to pound the pavement to get a story. That's an exclusive. TechCrunch nailing YouTube being bought – that's a real exclusive. It's information that no one else has. But now that term is being thrown around so loosely. So I don't even think it's really an exclusive if somebody hands you a story. That's somebody doing you a favor.

The Washington Post recently issued social media guidelines to its reporters. Do you think this is necessary for media outlets?

Malik: I think it's delusional. If you don't trust your reporters why the hell are they working for you? If I was a Washington Post reporter, I would consider walking out of the job. I'm actively asking my people, why aren't you tweeting more? There is a limit to what you should share and you have to be professional, but I look at being on Twitter like speaking in a bar. Do you say everything you think in a bar? But I don't think you need guidelines to convey this perspective.

You co-hosted the GigaOm Show on the Web but it's since stopped production. Do you think this is a viable channel for media?

Malik: Yes, we are bringing back the GigaOm show and it will be more collaborative. Again, the key is, you've got to focus on quality.

With this recession, are you as interested in writing about innovation for its own sake? Or is there more of a focus on how technology can monetize?

Malik: I love straight tech stories, but I like innovation stories that are practical.

In 2007, after you suffered from a heart attack, you became the poster child for doing too much in this real-time blogging world. Do you think blogging can be detrimental to your health?

Malik: Not in my head. I had these issues because I lived a very unhealthy lifestyle. I still work as hard, I just live healthier. I still crack 14 or 15 hours a day on work.

Media outlets have been trying to build communities with their readers. How can they do this?

Malik: Engaging audiences basically means actually answering their comments -- every single one of them. It means if someone stops you on the street, you spend 20 minutes talking to them. That's engagement. A story is forever, it's like you're living in your own reality show. You have to interact like that.

You recently named Sebastian Rupley as GigaOm's new editor-in-chief. Why did you bring someone new to take on this role?

Malik: I'm pulling back. Sebastian will drive the entire network, and it will free my time so I can actually write. We want to put on kickass conferences so I'll take on a more strategic role in that. I'll be more of a columnist and in my moments of arrogance, I think I want to be like Paul Krugman.

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