Thursday, July 26, 2012

Interview with Engadget Editor-In-Chief Tim Stevens

I was able to speak with tech giant Engadget's Editor-In-Chief Tim Stevens and ask him a few questions.
Personally when I think of Editor in Chief I picture an individual much like Jonah Jameson from the Daily Bugle; a fast talking, cigar smoking mustachioed man always concerned about the next story. Though some of these stereotypes might hold true in today’s internet based culture, the standards and work involved with the title of editor have changed dramatically, especially for those controlling content through digital forms. I was fortunate to be able to speak with Tim Stevens, editor-in-chief of AOL’s technology publication Engadget, to ask him about the specifics of his job and how he handles operating in the digital / social realm.

-As editor in chief of Engadget you have a lot of responsibilities. What all does your average day consist of?

My average day is a lot of email. The vast majority of coverage requests we receive and make come through my inbox, so there's a lot to wade through to put it mildly.

While that's going on, though, I'm working with the editorial team to decide what news is worthy of us writing about and what is not. It's a constant process of vetting stories and discussing potential angles. As we're a distributed team that happens in a chat room.

But, I'm also traveling quite frequently, so there's a good chance I'll be on a plane (as I am right now) or covering some product launch or media event.

-You're obviously invested in Engadget and the technology that is featured on the site. How often do you yourself contribute to the content of Engadget and what do you like to write about?

Not as often as I'd like, with so much else going on. But, I do cover major reviews of very important devices and chip in when I can. I tend to enjoy writing tablet reviews the most, but my favorite topic of coverage is the automotive space. I was formerly the Automotive Editor here at Engadget before becoming Editor-in-Chief.

I also write a weekly editorial in our tablet magazine, Distro, which gives a quick refresher on the week in news as well as my take on much of it.

-Has there ever been any high profile or controversial content that has gone through your website, and if so how did you handle the editing process and posting?

The most controversial content we run on a regular basis tends to be our editorials, in which one editor puts his opinions out there for the world to see. These I tend to be closely involved in reviewing to ensure that the argument being made is well founded. It's important that these be individual opinions, so I try to not change anyone's take on the story, but I'm primarily making sure that they've made a bulletproof case.

Beyond that, we quite frequently get photos or information through privileged sources, information that isn't supposed to be publicly known yet. In these cases I try to work very closely with the editors assigned and reviewing the story to ensure that the information we've received is legitimate and, if so, that we're presenting it in such a way as to not expose or harm our source.

-Social media marketing has blown up within the past several years, how has Engadget answered to the need of constant interaction in the social realm? How does the role of Editor factor in to content of 140 characters or less?

We look at social networks as another way to connect to our fans. Our Twitter feed acts like an RSS feed did back in the day, serving up headlines and links as posts go live. But, recently we've been working harder to personalize that interaction more. We now have someone on staff whose focus is managing our social networks and interacting with the readers.

It's important to me that we're as accessible as possible, and Twitter, Google+ and Facebook are great ways of getting out there.

-Your website gets thousands of hits a week if not every day, is it ever difficult to handle the constant wave of comments and interactions with users who follow Engadget?

It is always a challenge but we have a team of moderators who ensure our comments and discussions are clean. Honestly, though, we could be doing better there, and I'm making some changes to improve that. But, I personally get hundreds of emails every day, and many of them are from readers with suggestions, questions or simply looking for jobs. It's difficult to respond to them all but I always try to.

And thousands of hits a day is a gross understatement :)

-What is the most exciting piece of technology that you are waiting for?

Right now it's the Galaxy S III. I'm waiting for the Developer Edition! Beyond that… 

-I have to ask, are you a Mac or a PC?

I'm both! I was exclusively PC for a long time, but since I started traveling a lot more with this job I needed a lightweight and powerful laptop. At the time the MacBook Air was the best so I went with that. It's still a great machine. So, at home I work from a PC I built years ago, but on the road I'm a Mac.

I use an Android smartphone.

Feel free to check out Tim’s work at for technology news, reviews, and updates.

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  1. Great interview, it's well done and fun to see the fun side of such a guy as Tim Stevens. As you said, with that title of Editor in Chief it does bring to mind the old editors with the beards and pipes, ha ha, however, it appears that Tim is anything but. He is very interesting and for being who he is / where he is, he's very down to earth and just, well, nice.

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