For the last 11 months I’ve been on tour—a listening tour, that is.
Stepping into the role of overseeing a brand that covers the controlled chaos that is the intersection of media, marketing and technology, I felt I needed to get a better handle on the people and businesses Adweek covers. What are the ambitions, jealousies, inspirations? What are the frustrations, fears, insecurities? What makes things either thrive or perish in this environment of extreme and unrelenting transformation? To cover the nuts and bolts in a compelling larger way all these intangibles have to be understood and blended into editorial judgment. And to be honest, the speed and complexity of change was blurring my perspective.
I wasn’t getting clarity from reading everything, either original or aggregated, or even from following feeds on TweetDeck. Deeper insight wasn’t coming from sitting in front of or on panels. I was stuck in an echo chamber, which is a very dangerous place for a journalist to be.
I got into this business over 20 years ago because I wanted to be a reporter. I loved the sense of getting closer to the truth of something by doing the research and legwork and constantly talking to sources. Journalism 101, right? But life happens, and you get pulled away from the very thing you loved most, sometimes so far away that you lose touch with the initial guiding passion.
So that’s what I fell back on. In a sense started reporting again. I tried hard not to say no to any grip-and-grin that came my way and sought out people in parts of the business that felt unfamiliar. It was humbling. But once I shed the know-it-all pretense, I felt a great sense of liberation. “Explain it to me in a way your grandmother would understand” was a pretty common refrain.
The great takeaway from my year of listening is that the media, advertising, marketing and technology sectors Adweek covers are brimming over with vibrant people. The very best of them have voices that they share with equal parts authority and generosity.
It’s a nod to them that we launch our new opinion column, called Voice, in today’s issue. The page will feature a select group of these voices from across our coverage area who will write for us on a quarterly basis and become an informal advisory council for Adweek.
The ultimate hope is that each column will offer readers diverse takeaways that will agitate new thinking and in turn create breakthrough work.
In the meantime, we’ll continue to keep our ears open for you.