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Meet the media: Pete Swabey, Information Age

Written by Paul Stallard

Pete Swabey


This week’s Meet the Media interview is someone who needs no introduction, Pete Swabey, editor of Information Age. I asked Pete about the affect of social media on traditional journalism and he explained that he was surprised by the degree to which PR still relies on traditional media as a channel. In response to another question it was also sad to see that the editor of one of the most prominent publications in our field doesn’t believe that most PR professionals read his title. How disappointing.

Name: Pete Swabey

Title: editor of Information Age

Paul Stallard: What is your pet hate of PR?

Pete Swabey: The question “Looking forward to the weekend?”

PS: What is the best way to contact you?

PSW: Email. In an ideal world, I would simply subscribe to a feed of press releases from a given agency or client and leave email for messages that are actually directed to me. I can’t see that happening though.

PS: How many emails / calls do you get a day?

PSW: About 100 emails and between 5 and 10 calls

PS: Do you think that most PR professionals read the title you write for before contacting you?

PSW: Not most, no.

PS: Have you had to change your writing style for online copy to incorporate SEO?

PSW: We try to label stories in an appropriate way for SEO, of course, but I wouldn’t say it has changed the way we write the stories themselves or the topics we cover.

PS: Do you believe journalists are rude to PR professionals?

PSW: I am afraid to say I probably have been in the past, but I’m doing my best to grow out of it. Clearly, people who are just doing their job deserve to be treated with respect.

PS: How has the increase of social media affected traditional journalism?

PSW: Too soon to say. It hasn’t changed it as much or in quite the same way as some were predicting two or three years ago. For instance, while there have been a few breakthrough blogs, by and large I think social media has confirmed the status (if not the business models) of the newspapers because everyone wants to link to the source of a story. But we’re only getting started. What surprises me is the degree to which PR still relies on traditional media as a channel.

PS: Is there a future long term for hard copy publications or will online rule?

PSW: I’m more concerned about the future of long form journalism, which is struggling to compete with fast and shallow news online. Will ereaders and the iPad etc. change this? I hope so

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