First Mover: Lance Ulanoff

The veteran tech journalist on his new role at Mashable and why it’s no longer just a blog

After nearly two decades with the PCMag brand, why the move to Mashable?
I saw this as a new challenge and something that I’m really deeply interested in—the social media, digital, technology space, and how it really just weaves through our lives. Mashable has its finger on that pulse. I couldn’t say no.

So what is your new role?
I’ll be overseeing the editorial—the news and news gathering, news publishing, how we cover things, what we cover. Helping to craft bigger stories, helping us also to drive fresh content. I’ll be fully engaged with the Mashable community at all the various touch points but day to day, hour to hour. I’ll be focusing on making sure Mashable has the lead story on the top stories of the day in the technology, digital, social space.

Mashable also added sections for entertainment, U.S. and world news, and a redesigned navigation. It started as a tech blog, but how would you define it now?
It’s more than just a blog now. It’s a destination to learn about the nexus of life, social, digital, and technical, and all the richness that comes with that. And sometimes learning means engagement, actually interacting, and sometimes it means learning about the latest gadgets and services out there.

Who do you compete with now?
I think we’ve got Business Insider. I sometimes think TechCrunch, although they tend to focus very heavily in the startup and venture capital space, [while] we’ve got that in the mix. There’s a certain degree, because of the way the Web is designed, that you’re in competition with everybody.

Any plans for bringing “old media” news-gathering practices and standards to this “new media” platform?
[I’m] getting a sense of how they gather news. Mashable started as a blog and blogs are kind of different. They’re kind of echo chambers for what’s going on in the world. They see what others are saying and they spit it back out and that’s a little bit of how Mashable started. But over time, it’s created a lot more original content. And now, it’s grown up, it isn’t a blog anymore. My goal is to make sure we’re providing as much original content as we possibly can and to put things in context.

At PCMag.com, did you ever spot Mashable stories you wish you had done?
Any good editor, any good leader is looking at the competition. I certainly saw when Mashable had stories that we didn’t have. They seemed so close to so many of the leading tech companies. This was frustrating to me at PCMag. [Tech companies and startups] may have looked at PCMag and thought, “Well, you’re old media, you won’t get it.” It was never true, but that’s something that happens with brands that have been around for a long time.

What about Mashable stories that you would have done differently?
I knew that Mashable didn’t always have the depth of PCMag. They weren’t testing in a lab. But that didn’t make their product reviews less relevant, it just made them different. Mashable is a little bit more real world, real use, a little more gut reaction. It wasn’t that I ever looked at Mashable and saw major deficits, but do I see room for improvement? Of course. Everything can be better and you want to find the ways in which you can do that.

You said that Mashable’s been on your radar since day one. Did you ever think it would be your next employer?
[When it launched], I was actually a little bit jealous of Mashable. It was like they woke up, stepped into the space, and were welcomed with open arms and were suddenly talking to the most important people. Did I ever think I would be the editor-in-chief of it? If you’d asked me in 2005, I would have said no. It wasn’t something I was thinking about until this year, when I got that call and went “wow.”