Interviews and Webinars

Qwoted is committed to exploring the current state of the media by speaking to industry leaders and educating future generations of media professionals. What has social media and technological innovation brought to the table? What can we expect for the future of journalism?

David Pring-Mill
David Pring-Mill

Creativity was a driving force for David Pring-Mill, and he exclusively pursued writing in his younger years. Armed with a sense of purpose, Pring-Mill’s creative work expanded after experience with odd jobs including a reality TV gig, making micro budget films, and publishing poems and short stories in literary magazines. Once Pring-Mill started working with NGOs and startups on their media and communications, he realized he had a knack for analyzing information creatively and identifying key risks and opportunities. Business journalism allowed Pring-Mill to chase the truth and publicly share his work. He began writing articles about technologies and policies, and has written for publications that focus on engineering, national security and internal affairs, disruptive technologies and data, and more. Most recently, Pring-Mill launched his own publication,, thanks to his persistence, curiosity, and adaptation – necessary qualities of any good journalist.

If there’s one thing you could change or improve about journalism—in any area—what might that be and why?

DPM: Journalists should drill down to the actual incentives, processes, and stakes. In political coverage, things are often framed a certain way, while competing interests serve as the true driver. Instead of indulging each hot air, ideological debate, we should be exposing the hidden interests. It’s really hard to get universal buy-in on what the “truth” is about something or someone. But if you expose the various incentives, the public can say, “Ah, so that’s why so-and-so is saying that, or doing that.”

Which aspects of your work do you find the most challenging? The most rewarding?

DPM: Trade publications help professionals to acquire information freely and advance in their own careers. Being involved in business journalism, I am not just assembling facts, but interpreting maneuvers and markets. There’s limitless subject matter, which is both a challenge and a reward. I think that ungated business content helps industries to move away from systems of privilege and closer to the ideal of merit, because oftentimes, an old boys’ club retains its money and power by controlling access to information.

It’s easy for an anti-capitalist type to sneer at business journalism, but it’s often overlooked that business journalism leads to increased corporate accountability, a broadening of opportunity, and even plays a role in the efficient allocation of capital. Imagine if business journalism didn’t exist, and all investors were reliant on a public company’s own financial releases and whatever analyses they were able to procure. An already elite financial services industry would be even more exclusive, systemic vulnerabilities would be prolonged, and there might be a lot more pain when the bubbles eventually burst.

The profession of journalism feels more attacked today than in a long time, but also highly necessary. Do you feel that’s true, and if so, why?

DPM: Journalism has always been necessary and controversial. The very idea of the United States was first championed in publications by Benjamin Franklin, Benjamin Edes, John Gill, and Thomas Paine. I’m sure that King George would have considered them all to be “fake news.” Yet they played an essential role in the formation of our republic.

There have also been some extreme low points in journalism, which have sparked national conversations and reevaluations of practices. Some Americans blamed Hearst’s newspaper for inciting the assassination of President McKinley in 1901. Today, journalism is both extremely valued and undervalued at the same time. It has clearly been affected by digital engagement and the concentration of media ownership. President Trump’s explicit demonizations of the news media were very atypical, compared with his predecessors.

What do you see as some of journalism’s biggest potential pitfalls? And what gives you hope for the future of journalism?

DPM: The insincere contrarianism is a journalistic pitfall that gets overlooked. Writers see an opportunity to tap into a trending topic from a different angle, but you can tell that they’re doing it for clicks rather than truth or conviction. Enough things about this world are genuinely counterintuitive and adversarial. There has also been a hopeful uptick in the opposite direction; journalists, and all types of people, have been calling out demonstrably broken institutions and practices that were previously taken for granted.

What advice would you give to aspiring young writers and reporters?

DPM: When you’re revising, remember that each word choice really is a choice. All choices, even the small ones, have implications, and people bear some measure of responsibility for their choices. I believe in trying to see things as what they are, not as what they pretend to be or what they’re widely accepted as being. Being precise not only with factual details, but with seemingly benign adjectives, is a way of getting closer to that clarity. The scope of what you’re writing is constrained by the time and money you have to work with. This means that omissions are necessary and inevitable. Lazy word choices can sometimes expose lazy thinking, both about the topic and about the very way it’s being approached.

Social media has upended the traditional media landscape. One of the great challenges it creates is authenticity and malevolent actors. How do think journalists and reporters should deal with the rising tide of misinformation?

DPM: I think that the news media got warped by social media, which seems to be an accelerator of many social and cultural shifts with levels of speed, distortion, and reactivity that are sometimes nothing short of dangerous. Accountability is one of journalism’s societal functions. Very often, it feels like everyone is interacting in this separate, pseudo-reality that is largely performative and has a very loose relationship with what’s happening on the ground. It’s a meme world.

Some of these platform algorithms are like the sociopolitical equivalent of steroids. You make the conversation a lot faster, but you get roid rage and change the very nature of competitive interaction, forcing people to use the new, damaging techniques to maintain relevance. This affects how journalists write and has been completely ruinous to our politics. The digital media environment places so much emphasis on the gamification and exploitation of attention.

What are some of the best practices from journalism’s past that you feel need to be utilized now?

DPM: I think that a well-salaried staff is important for quality and consistency, and freelancers should supplement that coverage with fair terms of compensation. A total gig economy approach can be a mismatch for news. You wind up with people who are doing a little of this, a little of that, and they don’t have that beat experience or domain knowledge. So they’re more reliant on sources with agendas, or they just regurgitate whatever is already out there. It’s not their fault. They need to be properly supported.