4 Things Journalists Can Learn from the Lacy/Zuckerberg Interview

3. Do Your Research

This is something of corollary to the last one, but make sure you understand the audience as much as the background of the story. News doesn’t exist in an objective vacuum. It exists because it is of interest to the audience – and that has a profound impact on what is or isn’t news in a particular context. Don’t assume you can take one set of news values and apply them elsewhere. You have a job to do – extracting information relevant to the people you want to read it. Know what they want to know, and find it out. 

4. Don’t Confuse Yourself with the Story

This tweet should have set alarm bells ringing. Being interviewed more than interviewing? Another quick look at her website, and you notice an invitation to become a fan of Sarah Lacy on Facebook. Build a reputation based on your work, not on a cult of personality. That way you’ll be less likely to dominate an on-stage interview with references to yourself…
  • (Just tried signing on with my OpenID but MT decided it didn’t like it.)

    The other thing is know the audience. The SXSW audience is not the same as the Web 2.0 Expo or Le Web crowd. They are – by and large – designers, developers, technologists and startup entrepreneurs. They read A List Apart and W3C mailing lists, not BusinessWeek and TechCrunch. They don’t care about market caps or IPOs – they care about whether they are going to have to learn some new bit of technology to use your ‘platform’. They care about openness, APIs and so on. They studied Computer Science or Graphic Design or philosophy – not business studies.

    These people are my friends and acquaintances, and Twitter and IRC was telling me that yesterday, they were bored out of their skin by the MZ session – many were walking out (or trying to).

  • Very good post. I think in this case your last point is probably the most crucial. For some reason Lacy felt that she was as much of the story as he was. In a room full of twittering geeks, that was not going to go unnoticed.

  • @mike – Well Jeff Jarvis did in his post. Ot at least he intimated it.

    I’m not sure that not following over 800 people on Twitter is something she can be criticised for. And she does appear to respond to those people she follows.

    However, as she is a jobbing reporter on the social media scene you could be forgiven for assuming she had her own blog and/or she was a far more active user of social media then she appears to be.

    At the very least, why isn’t she a face on this blog?


  • Adam Tinworth

    @Graham I’m not suggesting that she should be criticised for not following 800 people on Twitter. Few people could usefully process that level of input. I’m merely suggesting that, coupled with the other evidence and the exhortation to Follow her on her homepage, the ratio of following to followers suggests a publishing mindset, not a conversational one.

  • Adam,
    I don’t think Sarah was flirting, she was nervous and the hair twirling was a “tell.”

    I also think flirting CAN be effective…but in this case it was attempted manipulation.

    I ended up with four blog posts on what she did wrong, how she can fix it, what to do in the future and my take on SXSW.

    The Sarah Lacy Fiasco – The Bratton Perspective.

    Sarah Lacy – Here’s How to FIX Your Reputation

    How to Conduct A Live On-Stage Interview

    SXSW vs. TED – The Value of Preparation and Maturity

    I’d love your comments back.


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