Legal Reporter at Ars Technica Talks Good PR
A big part of the being a resourceful PR professional is staying up-to-date on when reporters move jobs as well as what they want from us in their new positions. Legal PR Advice asked David Kravets, a senior reporter at Ars Technica where he gets his sources and stories for the popular online news site.
Here are some questions:
Q. Tell me about your contribution to ArsTechnica how it differs from your position at Wired.com?
A. I became the senior editor at Ars Technica in April. I write about pretty much the same topics I covered as senior writer for Wired. I cover security, privacy, intellectual property, crime, legal matters and other material as it relates to the tech world. At Wired, I solely wrote. However, at Ars Technica, I write and also supervise our coverage for all of the topic areas I just described. Internally, we call it the “policy” beat.
Q. Who or what are your best sources?
A. My best sources are usually lawyers and me pounding the pavement. Q. What makes a professional a good, quotable source?
A. Some advice to lawyers speaking to the media, is as follows: Try not to use jargon and try to get a sense of the reporter’s understanding of the topic so as to speak on their level. Sometimes a reporter is quite informed on the topic, other times not. Some reporters understand the legal system, and plenty do not. In my view, good quotes are the ones that speak smartly about the topic. Other reporters might want something more flashy or fist-pounding. Use your own judgement, but at least know the difference.
Q. What was the best story pitch you have received recently and why?
A. One of the best tips I got recently at Ars Technica was a call from a lobbyist to give me a heads up on the US Copyright Office’s triennial review of DMCA regulations. We talked about what new proposals might be made and by whom. Obviously, we talked about the lobbyists’ interest in the story as well.
Q. What was the worst?
A. The dumbest story pitch I received recently was one with this headline: “A funny and smart video that describes the first App that allows users to book clean private home toilets (at least according to other users’ reviews) instantly for a few dollars.”
They even produced a YouTube video about it. Yet, there was no such app. So the app, which was ridiculous as could be, didn’t even exist.
Q. Since all of your stories published online, what is the best time to contact you? Are you on a daily deadline or is it hourly?
A. The best time to tip me to a story is at the earliest in the day as possible, and with plenty of time to check it out before action on whatever it is takes place.
Whenever anybody asks me what my deadline is, my standard answer is “yesterday.” That said, we can publish at any time, any day of the week.
Q. Do you want evergreen stories or do you want to know what’s happening now?
A. The tips can be about breaking, soon-to-break or feature-length planned stories.
Q. You are also the guy behind the Yellow Daily News. Is it helping you raise your profile in the tech industry or are you doing it just for fun?
A. My personal blog is called TheYellowDailyNews. It’s is parody and satire that I publish once a day Monday through Friday. I do it purely for fun and to write about the absurdity of the world as I see it. Because I make a living reporting about others’ views, TheYellowDailyNews gives me a relief valve from that. I make no money from it. The only marketing I do, if it can be called marketing, is I post TYDN stories to my Facebook friends, to my Twitter followers and to my Linkedin connections.