I closely followed what Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher had to say during their years as tech reporters for The Wall Street Journal, but it wasn’t until January 1st that I felt I really “got” them. They announced the launch of their new tech website, Re/code, and in doing so revealed something incredibly intimate about themselves: they’re entrepreneurs, just like me. And just like many of you.
Coverage of Mossberg and Swisher’s split with WSJ – and their new venture – has been significant. They’ve gone on record as saying that Re/code is going to reimagine tech news as we know it, as well as allow them to “reinvent” themselves. As two of the nation’s most daring tech journalists, each with sky high brand equity, I’m fascinated by this desire to begin anew. Not only because it reflects the drive for change shared by Airfoil and our clients, but also because it signals how we might move forward working with this new media entity.
I can only speculate so much, for Re/code – now only in its infancy – has so far handled news in a way that’s reminiscent of AllThingsD (the property the 2 helmed for WSJ). The new era of Mossberg & Swisher has yet to fully realize itself. But if Re/code ultimately proves to be a new journalistic model for the digital age, I can make some early educated guesses about what this reinvention could mean for our work here:
- New spirit, same people = controlled risks. The entire staff of AllThingsD followed Mossberg and Swisher to Re/code. This means that we can start fresh with people we already know – it’s a best-case scenario. Media with whom we’re already connected, telling us that they’re expanding who they are and how they cover the news? Sounds like an open invitation for creative pitches, for brainstorming, or – at a minimum – reaching out and saying, “Tell me more about what you’re doing there, and how I can help you.”
- It’s a serious chance to show our stories. Per Mossberg,“…we will be able to finally have added resources, so we can grow in new and exciting ways, including hiring more journalists and doing much more video.” It’s a reference to a content partnership Revere Digital, Mossberg and Swisher’s holding company, has entered into with NBC Universal News Group properties, including TV networks such as NBC, CNBC and MSNBC. Everything Re/code covers online has the potential for a broadcast extension, so our teams should always think in terms of multimedia content when storytelling with these folks.
- Their events will still matter. A lot. In fact, it’s going to be very interesting to see how these events evolve under the Re/code brand. AllThingsD was originally launched as a series of conferences on business and technology, and although WSJ appears ready to abandon the ATD brand, it is still holding a signature tech event in October. So, Re/code’s conferences – the first event happening May 27 – 29 near Los Angeles – present new marketing opportunities in both quantity and quality. It’s entirely possible that we end up with 2 sets of competitive events from Re/code and WSJD (the new Wall Street Journal Digital) unlike anything we’ve seen prior – each media property has an urgent and vested interest in separating itself from the legacy of AllThingsD conferences (as successful as they were).
What Mossberg and Swisher are doing appeals to the entrepreneur in all of us. It shows that even those who carve out hugely successful careers can have “What ifs?” driving them forward to see what other mountains they can climb. And the boldness of what they’ve done – ultimately successful or not – reminds me that the reward for taking risks is not always in the return. Sometimes the act is reward enough.
Lisa Vallee-Smith is the Co-CEO of Airfoil, a high-tech PR and marcomm firm with offices in Silicon Valley, Detroit, London and Hong Kong. Follow Lisa on Twitter: @LValleeSmith