I had been a journalist for 30 years by the time I first discovered Qwoted. And they say you can’t teach an old, cranky, weird-ass dog new tricks.
I spent 16 years at the Chicago Tribune where I was a Pulitzer Prize finalist. I graduated to Managing Editor at AOL, where I created the “Money College” blog site, then spent six years at U.S. News & World Report. There’s more: Great stints and bodacious bylines at Reuters, Forbes, the L.A. Times, Yahoo Finance, MSN … you get the picture. Hardly a rookie reporter.
And in this case, something of a know-it-all. Until…
I’d heard of expert matching services for journalists in the past and even tried a couple. But they all seemed to open me up to more of what every busy journalist dreads: email spam.
So when the team at Qwoted reached out to me, it took some convincing at first. Was this really going to save me time? Would it open me up to a deluge of email that would drown me for days? Would it make me famous? (I’m still waiting for an answer on that one.)
I had even more existential questions, which I only asked myself: Didn’t this take the “shoe leather” out of journalism? Isn’t writing supposed to be hard?
Yet as soon as I tried Qwoted I got the joke and, I’m happy to admit, got hooked fast. One minute I was doing some early trial work; the next I was getting hold of solid experts and building relationships in the business of business writing.
Everything was seamless and in one place. It eliminated email spam. I could use it as a simple research tool or an active networking platform, my choice. I chose both, and both tuned out to be great choices.
Beyond the technology, which seemed far superior to anything out there, the quality of the experts on the network—vetted as they were—was extremely strong. I also appreciated the human attention the Qwoted service team gave me. That started with the fantastic Matt Kneller, who reached out to me far more times than I deserved.
Matt embodied something I’ve taught in my journalism classes over and over: It’s all about relationships. In this case, I count the quality relationships I’ve had with my best PR contacts over the years: personalized, patient, thoughtful about my needs and my beat. A real relationship, not a transaction. Qwoted deals in this just as much as anything else it does, and when you want to take your reporting to new levels of depth and dimension, you can’t afford to ignore this most crucial X-factor.
Having been an early adopter I soon became an early advocator. I turned on most of my team at the Bank Administration Institute on to Qwoted, who equally enjoyed how much time it saved them. Let’s look at their resumes of full-time gigs for a sec: New York Times. Wall Street Journal. Reuters. AOL. U.S. News & World Report. Neat! And not exactly rookies either, mind you.
Then I began to tell my freelance friends to check it out. I won’t say I’m the reason that Qwoted now has over 2,000 active reporters on the network and hundreds of expert requests a month. Hell, I’d like to if I were getting $100 per reporter.
But I do think my experience of hesitation-to-adoption-to-promotion was and is emblematic of something writers and reporters around the world experience: more so than ever in these sheltered times.
Finally, the more I got to know the leadership team at Qwoted the more I came to believe in their mission to empower journalists. That not only includes Matt but also Dan Simon, who I can assure you is quite impassioned about the subject.
Even more important: I came to believe that they believed it.
Journalism has never been more important than today. The year 2020 has thrown us from crisis to crisis, pandemic to demonstration, hope for change to change in real time. I hustle as much as anyone I know and yet can hardly keep up with it all, if at all.
In fact, it feels like it’s never been tougher to actually be a journalist.
But Qwoted was the first thing I’d come across—the first technology certainly—that seemed designed to help reporters and writers, not just monetize their work or help reduce their numbers.
So when Qwoted came calling again, this time not with an offer to help but an offer to oversee their standards committee, lead community-building efforts within journalism education, and act as a resource and guide to writers what else could I say except, “When can I start?”
And yes, you can Qwote me on that.