NEW YORK (MarketWatch) -- Some pundits like to needle Wired Editor Chris Anderson about his image.
"His reputation is that he always has to be the smartest person in the room," said Valleywag Managing Editor Owen Thomas. "And he usually is."
I can understand why.
One afternoon in March, I interviewed Anderson, 46, for more than an hour in his homey, cramped San Francisco office, talking about what makes Wired so interesting.
Wired sees technology as encompassing every subject, which enables the monthly magazine to come up with original ideas in every issue. Even when it covers widely discussed topics, like autism for example, Wired manages to find something fresh to say.
I especially like the way Wired always stresses originality and creativity, two increasingly hard-to-find qualities in publishing circles these days.
Many editors watch the competition closely and work in a defensive posture. Their primary motivation appears to be NOT missing a story. I wish they'd focus instead on consistently producing quality stuff -- on any subject -- and zigging when others are zagging. It's all about serving the readers, and Anderson apparently feels the same way.
"We're not working on an election story," he said dismissively. "This comes from my own sense that politics today is being driven by the institutional structure of the past 20 years. We tend not to focus on the evolution of the status quo. I'm personally allergic to politics [and] people don't come to Wired for politics."
I found Anderson's comments about Wired's mission to be revealing.
"The mission of this magazine is the same as it was in 1993 when it was founded," he told me. "We're NOT about technology -- we're about how technology is changing the world."
He explained that Wired has two objectives for all of its stories: "Amaze us, and tell us something we've never seen before, in a way we've never seen before."
Anderson bluntly shot down Wired's reputation as the smartest magazine on the coffee table. "Being smart? That's not in our mission," he said. "Blowing minds is."
Wired's image is also distinct among its sister brands at parent company Conde Nast, which publishes such titles as the New Yorker, Glamour and Portfolio.
"I can take the risks and fail in ways that our traditional brands can't. Our customers will accommodate us," Anderson said. "Are we the geeks of Conde Nast? Yes. Are we freaks? No."
Serious magazine readers probably won't strain too hard to find similarities between Wired and its role model of sorts, the Economist.
"I'm hugely influenced by the Economist's model: big, relevant, fresh ideas," said Anderson, who used to work there.
Anderson took over Wired in 2001. As you might expect, he's a naturally restless person.
"You run the risk of going stale if you don't change things."
Anderson has been at Wired for seven years, but he is constantly evolving in his role. In 2006, Anderson wrote the well received book "The Long Tail," which is based on one of his Wired stories on the Internet economy. "Free" will be his next book, focusing on the economics of why $0.00 is the future of business. It will be published next year.
Anderson's focus on bigger-picture ideas fits into his life away from work, too.
"I don't think I've watched any television in five years," he said. "I don't watch sports, and I don't read fiction. I'm 46. I shouldn't be an expert on pop culture, I should hire people who are experts."
Time vies with Newsweek
Time.com got quite a scoop late Monday with its story that Marcus Brauchli would be stepping down as managing editor of The Wall Street Journal after 11 months in the pst. To seasoned media watchers, there was an interesting sidebar.
Time and Newsweek -- the Ohio State vs. Michigan of magazine rivalries -- engaged in yet another battle of "Can You Top This?" The subject in this installment was media giant News Corp. , which owns the Journal and MarketWatch, the publisher of this column.
On Monday morning, Newsweek's insightful profile of News Corp. by reporter Johnnie Roberts (a former Journal reporter) hit newsstands. The magazine's triumph proved to be very short-lived, though.
Time.com roared back late on Monday night with its juicy exclusive.
So, which newsweekly won this skirmish? What is more valuable in today's digital-dominated media universe: a riveting feature or a hard-hitting exclusive?
You tell me. I'm certain of one thing, though: If the situation had been reversed and Newsweek got the scoop while Time produced the fine narrative, each side would be pointing to its own story as an example of its journalistic supremacy.
Ultimately, I'd say the advantage goes to Time in this round. This isn't the first time that Time produced a strong piece on News Corp. Ten months ago, Time writer Eric Pooley wrote a terrific profile of News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch, who was then in the process of acquiring Dow Jones. I subsequently that Pooley had written the best media story of 2007.
: What do you like or dislike about Wired?
: The media have been in a congratulatory mood lately, what with the Newseum's grand reopening in Washington, D.C. I hope journalists can spare a moment Wednesday to reflect on the accomplishments of David Halberstam, who died in a car crash exactly one year ago today. He was the finest journalist of his (and probably any) generation and a genuine role model.
to about Bob Dylan's Pulitzer Prize:
"Great column. Now chill out. The Pulitzer people give out awards. Dylan deserves the recognition. 'Nuff said. And Dylan is probably very pleased."
-- Ray Giles
"I really enjoyed your article on Dylan's Pulitzer Prize. I'm also really happy for him, and I'll even go you one better: Just this morning, I played 'Knocked Out Loaded' ... on vinyl! I also listen to 'Self Portrait' periodically. 'Copper Kettle' is fantastic, and I can't help but like the version of 'She Belongs To Me.' Anyway, thanks again for the article."
-- Andrew Klewan
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By Jon Friedman