Flacking and Hacking with Jon Swartz — a Silicon Valley Journalism Legend
March 08, 2021
By PRSA-SV Board Member JoAnn Yamani

For those of us who have been in Silicon Valley for a while, Jon Swartz is about as iconic in technology journalism as the Golden Gate Bridge and Ghirardelli Square are to San Francisco. A 20+ year veteran with publications such as USA Todayand MarketWatch, Jon sees tech for what it was, what it is, and what it is becoming. That’s why it was a particular delight to have him answer these questions as our #FridayForum guest speaker:

Is it the end (or at least a hard pause) of Big Tech?

During his one-hour free-flowing conversation moderated by PRSA-SV President Vanessa Yanez, Jon noted the US’s current tenor against Big Tech. In Jon’s eyes, President Biden’s recent leadership appointments to address technology and competition alongside strong anti-trust moves against Facebook, Google and other tech titans are signs of a shift and a positive movement. In the past, many publications focused their coverage on seven of the largest technology companies. He noted that at MarketWatch, they now cover a broader bunch of 30 to 40 companies, which widens the variety of issues and topics.

Is Tech Now Mainstream?

An ardent San Francisco Giants fan, Jon gave the nod to Ryan Smith, the founder and executive chairman of Qualtrics. Smith recently purchased the Utah Jazz professional basketball team and is using that to become more mainstream. These days, technology is so pervasive that names like Microsoft, Coca-Cola, Netflix, and Google are so utterly mainstream that they are household names first and technology companies second. So much so that it seems the boundaries between them are practically nonexistent.

Is the Medium the Message?

The pandemic has changed the way, where, and how we work. It has also changed the concept of how we interact and how news stories will be delivered. Are podcasts the next thing? Jon said he’s excited about the platform and what it has to offer. He noted that, as a reaction to the backlash against Big Tech, other companies are seeing an opportunity to have their stories told.

For those of us who know Jon, he is a PR professional’s reporter. He responds to emails and lets you know if he is forwarding your pitch to another reporter or editor. Despite the change in medium and our sheltered seclusion, good manners and professional courtesies still exist.

To replay the March 5, 2021 #FridayForum, visit our PRSA-SV Facebook page and click on the event graphic:

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