CNET editor in chief discusses changing tech in newsrooms


Daily file photo by Colin Boyle

CNET Editor in Chief Connie Guglielmo spoke to Medill faculty and students in the McCormick Foundation Center

Jordan Mangi, Reporter

As any journalist will tell you, technology has changed the way news and media companies operate. CNET editor in chief Connie Guglielmo emphasized that in her talk on Monday at the McCormick Foundation Center.

Prior to her five-year tenure at CNET, Guglielmo worked as a tech reporter for Bloomberg and Forbes. She spoke to around 15 Medill students and faculty about how she modernized CNET’s newsroom to better reflect the changing landscape of journalism.

“In every single newsroom that I have worked (in), I had to learn new tools and new technologies. That is inevitable,” Guglielmo said. “Doctors, pilots, even baristas — everybody has to learn new tech as tech evolves, and you have to be of the mindset that you’re willing and open to embrace it.”

When Guglielmo came to CNET, a consumer tech news site that covers technology news and reviews products, the majority of their audience was men over 45. But in her role as editor in chief, she saw an opportunity to expand and diversify the site’s audience.

She met with CNET’s editors, reporters and photojournalists, as well as the sales and marketing teams to determine first who their target audience was and then what changes could be made to reach that target audience more effectively.

“(CNET) is a business — a for-profit business,” Guglielmo said. “Edit content is a product, and we had to get people thinking about that.”

In discussing the steps she took to modernize CNET, Guglielmo emphasized the importance of communicating analytics generated by the real-time data analytics provider Chartbeat to reporters and editors.

Using the tool, CNET editors and reporters can see how many people read each article and for how long. They can also see at what point in a story readers stop reading and leave the page. This, Guglielmo said, helps the company decide what stories they should write in the future based on what their audience engages with the most.

Beth Bennett, associate dean of Medill, said Medill tries to bring in a variety of speakers. This winter, several of events, like Gugliemo’s, have been focused on the “digital world and digital strategy.”

During her talk, Guglielmo said CNET expanded the digital media formats they use on the site as well as the technology they supply their reporters with.

As an organization, they have experimented with longform stories, sending reporters to cover international technology usage and a print magazine. They are also working on implementing artificial intelligence to create personalized newsletters.

“You have to be open to the idea that change is opportunity,” Guglielmo said. “If you think of it as opportunity, then you can figure out how to embrace it and how it might work for you.”

Medill freshman Dan Hu, who also works for The Daily, said he found Guglielmo’s talk inspiring.

“We see the change that’s happening in journalism and it makes people feel scared, but (Gugliemo) feels hope,” Hu said. “I really admire that.”

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