Journalist Q&A: Kara Swisher, All Things Digital

Kara Swisher is co-executive editor of the Dow Jones-owned All Things Digital. She talks to Aarti Shah about the leaner nature of online journalism and the monetization of Web 2.0.

Name: Kara Swisher

Outlet: All Things Digital

Title: Co-executive editor

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Kara Swisher is co-executive editor of the Dow Jones-owned All Things Digital. She talks to Aarti Shah about leaner journalism online and big upcoming news topics, including the monetization of Web 2.0.

PRWeek: All Things Digital combines elements of blogging and traditional reporting. What's that like?

Swisher: What we love about blogging is the speed, the quick analysis, and the fun. Not every story is fun, but there is attitude and personality in it. But what we value from traditional media is the accuracy. In the blogosphere, people just rely on what others write. People just copy what I write – how do they know that I'm even right?

PRWeek: What's going to be the next big story in Silicon Valley?

Swisher: How social networking is monetizing itself. No matter how much people love Facebook or anything else, they have to make money – a lot of it. How do social networks replace or become a true advertising industry? Just because people are using a social network, it doesn't mean it is going to be lucrative. Also there is content. Who is going to pay for it, and is there is a business model in content?

PRWeek: You've broken many stories on Yahoo, perhaps before the company was ready to release the information. How has the PR department responded to this?

: Well, I break so many stories on Yahoo because I do regular source reporting. I spend time developing sources, not with the PR department. I hardly even talk to the PR department. We have really good sources, and that's why we break stories. It's not that hard to break stories, you develop sources. Yahoo is in a situation where [CEO Carol Bartz] is a very good, decisive executive, but she has yet to articulate a strategy and vision for that company.

PRWeek: What do you say to those who think you have an ulterior motive when reporting on Google's competitors, especially Yahoo, because your spouse is an executive at Google?

: I've said Google is a dangerous company many times in print. I think I'm one of the only reporters that has said that Google having 60% of market share makes it a very scary company. It's bad for anyone but Google. I also don't write a ton about Google. And Yahoo is a troubled company and deserves to be covered like a troubled company. I don't have it out for them because [my spouse] works at Google. I say that in the disclosure. If people think otherwise, I can't do anything about it. The proof is in the pudding. Yahoo ran itself into a wall and it had nothing to do with what I reported.

PRWeek: What are your thoughts on the future of journalism?

: I think there is a lot of bellyaching in journalism, but things change. Consumers want to consume news online. So we, as people who provide content, have to figure out a way to do it. We have a leaner style. We have people working out of their homes and we have two reporters breaking major news stories. Why do we have two people breaking the news of 20? Our quality is great, we have high standards, and are accurate. But we're faster and cheaper [than traditional news outlets]. Does it work? I don't know but we're doing pretty well. We also have the conference as a revenue stream, so we don't just rely on advertising.

PRWeek: What's the next evolution of the Web or as you called it – Web 3.0?

Swisher: These mobile [devices] and these smartphones are critical. [Co-editor Walt] Mossberg and I feel like this is what Web 3.0 is about. I don't know if Web 3.0 is here, but the things that the iPhone embodies, like touch, gesture, mobile – these smartphones are critically important for the next phase. You could also call it ubiquitous computing.

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