As technology continues to play a critical part in how we consume information and engage with the world, there’s no better way to understand its impact on our lives than to hear it from those who report on it. Hear the key takeaway’s from Connie Guglielmo, CNET’s Editor-in-Chief, on the publication’s transition to a fully remote workforce and expanding coverage, tech’s role in driving culture, and how tech journalism is evolving.
Accommodate team members early on for easier virtual transitions
“We had a global team across time zones and we had to juggle that from day one,” said Connie. “Not from day 10 when there’s a lot of misfires.” As the EIC, Connie manages a global newsroom with individuals who have unique talents and circumstances going into quarantine. When it came to CNET’s learning curve on adjusting to abrupt change to virtual work for some of their reporters, Connie said the most important part was to be accommodating as we’re all human and have different situations. “As managers and as leaders, we have to recognize what that [working from home today] means,” said Connie.
Broaden coverage while maintaining authenticity
In a COVID-19 environment, broadening coverage should be aligned with understanding your audience –– their needs and their struggles. “Our coverage broadened logically from everybody’s life,” said Connie. “From the get, we set up a COVID-19 landing page.” In this section, CNET compiled a number of articles and resources from online classes to unemployment assistance, to mental health resources. To Connie, it was important that CNET adds value to the reader which means utilizing insights from their global reporters as well.
Recognize that technology is a means to an end
With security breaches and the exploitation of personal data, technology can be a slippery slope. “Technology is not an end,” said Connie. “It is a means to an end.” Technology has done a lot of good for society; however, tech is a powerful piece of the economy, and exploitation of data is profitable. “When there are power and money then there’s the abuse of power and money,” said Connie. “And tech, unfortunately, has made some massive missteps.” The creators and leaders in the tech industry, Connie says, need to hold themselves to a greater standard and think critically on the purpose of the technology they’re introducing to the world and how they will ensure it’s a positive impact.
Questions from Q + A:
Did CNET find anything different in its coverage and readership during COVID?
- CNET has implemented “advocacy journalism” and diversified its coverage to what will resonate most with people at this time.
- CNET has gained more international readers
Is CNET going to have a paywall?
- CNET hasn’t made the decision to go to a paywall due to their different business diversification strategy. Their value proposition as an advice site on content and a place that talks about the intersection of tech and culture.
What’s CNET philosophy with trying new mediums for its content?
- CNET does do experiments in its distribution channels. Right now, video, audio, and specialized content (newsletters) are key spaces that CNET has a presence in.
- When it comes to a brand trying new distribution channels, Connie advises making the investment now. In Connie’s words: “If we can get the content and formula right, we will find an audience for it. because that is what all of you are doing.”
Is “tech for good” more inherent in CNET’s coverage due to COVID?
- Five years ago, CNET leaned into writing “tech-enabled” content on how tech can be used for good, particularly in how it helps people in their day-to-day lives. Highlighting positive elements on tech is something CNET has done before and continues to do
What is CNET’s take on the reporting on the relationship currently between China, the U.S., and tech’s role in the election season?
- CNET has a whole page dedicated to the relationship between the two countries and tech
- CNET has a section on 5G and how it will play a role in the future of work, telemedicine, combating misinformation, and more post-COVID.
What do you think about what will happen to CES 2020?
- Apple’s WWDC keynote went well so CES can still have a virtual component. It was a model of how virtual conferences can move forward as long as there is an interactive component. In Connie’s words: “there is no reason why the news will not go out.”