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Apr 05, 2002

Journalist Profile: How to Get Covered in Wired News

SUMMARY: Due to Sherpa reader demand (thanks for your emails!), we are starting a new FAME series of profiles of high tech journalists. In this first, you will meet Jesse Barkin, Senior Editor of Wired News, which is read by an average of 1.3 million unique visitors per month, including a large percentage of male technology-related professionals. Want to plant a story to reach them?
Profile #1 in Our (New) Continuing Series on High Tech Journalists

Jesse Barkin
Senior Editor
Wired News
660 3rd Street, 1st Floor
San Francisco, CA 94107
PH: 415.276.4351

-> Circulation as of 3/01:

According to Media Metrix, in March 2001 Wired News had 1.3 million unique visitors who were 78% male, and 277% more likely to work in IS/IT/MIS departments that the average online user. They are also heavy intranet software purchasers.

-> Barkin’s background:

In the beginning, Barkin wanted to be a sports reporter. He says, "Since I was in the ninth grade I knew I wanted to be a newspaper reporter. I’ve always covered sports, primarily basketball."

After getting his BA in communication from the University of Michigan in 1983, Barkin covered basketball for Mesa AZ's Tribune, LA Daily News, the Orange County Register, and the San Jose Mercury News. But like many of the athletes he wrote about, Barkin reached a point where he felt he accomplished everything he had ever wanted to in sports. It was time for a change.

In August 2000 Barkin became Content Editor for Wired News. "There are a lot of reasons for coming to Wired News, mostly I was looking for something completely new," Barkin says. "I really wanted to get on the Net; I believed it was the future of journalism. I also wanted to get out of news writing and into editing."

Barkin found that he quite enjoys the real-time Net news environment. "As a beat writer, you are always on deadline. Deadlines just come natural to me," he says. "We can update continually online, post stories, and we don’t have to wait until the next day’s edition. I love the immediacy."

Recently Barkin was promoted to Senior Editor of Wired News.

-> Current editorial coverage:

"We explore numerous fields, including emerging sensory technology, robotics, ‘nanotech’ [i.e. the latest in heart regulators placed inside the body], space and ocean exploration, as well as associated areas in media, politics, law, business, education, design and art," Barkin says.

"Everything anyone will ever need to live a modern life," is how Barkin describes Wired News. The publication is essentially a "six-day-a-week online news site that records and contextualizes the modern living experience in the post-Internet age," Barkin says. The majority of Wired News’ stories have some connection to the Internet or new technologies.

Barkin insists Wired News is "not a gadget site." He sees technology as "more of a platform, but not really all we are about. It is more about how technology is applied."

-> What Barkin looks for in a story pitch:

"Get to the point. Make me need to assign the story, and make that need apparent in the first or second sentence," Barkin says. Email is the most effective way to get Barkin to respond. He would rather see a well-written pitch than speak to you on the phone about it.

As long as you've obviously visited the Wired News site and have a demonstrated feeling for what it's all about, Barkin is open to a wide range of ideas. "To say we are looking for just a couple of kinds of things will only result in the same [kinds of] stories," he says.

"I prefer taking stories on a pitch basis for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that I'd like to have a story that is written specifically for Wired News, and not for whoever will bite," Barkin says. "I also like to help a writer shape his or her coverage; to talk a story through its conception, to guide the writer to the areas that sound worth exploring, and those that have already been trod upon."

-> Deadlines:

"If it is a breaking story we want it now," Barkins says. "If a couple of days will benefit the story we want it then. It really depends on the nature of the story." Barkin did not specify any particular time of day to send him a story or story idea, but earlier is always better.

-> Submitting pre-written contributions:

Wired News does take some pre-written contributions, but it's rare.

-> Becoming a regular columnist:

Barkin says columns are not something the publication is exploring. However, keep an eye out in the future because things could change.

-> Where you can meet Barkin:

At his desk, since he rarely leaves it. Honestly, Barkin would rather you meet with a Wired News reporter. He says reporters attend many of the major events surrounding politics and Internet privacy, commerce, security issues, e-publishing, and the major computer confabs such as MacWorld and the Intel Developers Conference.

"Time is really important here. A company should read our site and understand who it is that may report on a certain area," Barkin says. "If there is a regular staff writer it would be best to meet up with them. We trust our reporters here. It is a collaborative business."

-> Best gifts for Barkin:

Absolutely none. He will not take them.

-> Barkin’s favorite business publications:

Wall Street Journal and the NY Times.
See Also:

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