Qwestion & Answer with Janet Guyon, former Editor In Chief at TheStreet

Madelynne Kislovsky December 18, 2020

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?

Reporter Janet Guyon smiling at the camera in a circular frame

Janet Guyon began her journalism career as a reporter with The Wall Street Journal after graduating from Duke University. As an Editor and reporter for the Journal and Fortune magazine, she worked in Atlanta, New York, Brussels, and London, where she opened the magazine’s European bureau. Returning to New York in 2004, Guyon joined Bloomberg as a Managing Editor, running Bloomberg.com, which saw huge audience growth. She then ran a series of websites as an Editor for Dow Jones, IAC’s Investopedia, Quartz, and was Editor in Chief of TheStreet.com. Guyon completed her law degree at New York Law School in May 2020.

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

JG: To re-focus on the facts. Journalism needs to continue to understand the value of basic, shoe leather reporting. New technologies and use of data are great, but they are not a replacement for the basic blocking and tackling of finding and calling sources and verifying facts.

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?

JG: The internet has eroded standards in journalism. Too often what random people post on Twitter and Facebook is taken as fact and used to support a point of view in a news story. The web has introduced a level of partisanship that is eroding the public’s trust.

What do you think about the role of technology in journalism? Is it helpful? harmful? Something in between?

JG: Technology has given people more access to journalism and has created better tools to expose more voices and their stories. But business imperatives and the superior ability of the tech companies to target advertising have eroded the financial base of journalism, resulting in massive consolidation. I have long believed that the tech revolution would create a handful of global news players with a bunch of niche players catering to specialized interests.

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

JG: Find your specialty early. Learn to code. Learn how data works and how it can be manipulated. Learn to write well. Learn to separate fact from fiction, fantasy and baseless opinion. Develop news judgment so you can decide what is and what isn’t worth reporting. That means you must be willing to constantly learn.

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

JG: Reporters need to develop long term relationships with real people who are knowledgeable about a topic and who can inform coverage. Too many reporters today rely exclusively on electronic communication for their work. More people are pushing back on this trend due to the importance of talking to a source face-to-face.

 

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