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Spencer Ante – Senior Special Writer, The Wall Street Journal

Competitors in the technology industry, even the ones on top, dare not leave journalists wanting for something new to talk about. This makes for consistently well satiated journalists who, not so coincidentally, work in a field as dynamic as the industry they cover. As the tech industry changes, so does journalism – and usually in tumultuous ways. Tech industry journalist Spencer Ante understands this complex relationship particularly well. Having started his career during the mid ‘90s, Ante has witnessed, and often covered, the tech innovations that have transformed his field. This experience will prove useful in his promotion to senior special writer at The Wall Street Journal, a publication known for its swift adaptation to emerging technologies.

Ante currently serves as deputy bureau chief of the New York corporate bureau at the publication, but will assume his new position in the coming weeks. In his current role, Ante has frequently covered the tech industry on the East Coast and in New York; a region which he said is “challenging Silicon Valley in a serious way.” He has also overseen coverage of telecommunications and wireless as an editor and writer. His new role calls for broader coverage.

“I won’t be as focused geographically speaking,” he stated. “I’m going to write about technology, but with an emphasis on longer form stories and enterprise technology, as opposed to consumer technology. So companies like IBM, Hewlett-Packard, Dell, Oracle – the big, old tech companies. And then there’s a whole new generation of newer enterprise technology companies coming on the scene that are really shaking up the industry, doing things like cloud computing and big data. Companies like Salesforce and Workday. There’s a whole slew of these companies.”

Ante sees covering enterprise technology as uniquely challenging. He said the subfield isn’t as “sexy” as consumer technology, but maintained that it is equally important. Some readers might find it less accessible and its applications less apparent, but his goal is to change that.

“The challenge is to take some of these things like cloud computing and turn it into something people can understand,” he said. “Not only understand the technology, but also the importance of the technology to people and to companies.”

Ante is also spearheading a new digital product for WSJ tech coverage, another example of journalism co-evolving with changing media technologies.

“It hasn’t launched yet, but I can say we’re hoping to launch it probably in late September or October, and it’ll be a service that is aimed at the technology industry,” he said. “I’ll be working with various people in the company and technology editor Jonathan Krim, who is sort of rebuilding the technology team here. I’ll also be working with some of the other editors and technology developers to create the product.”

Such products represent a very proactive response to a capricious media landscape, but Ante acknowledged that journalism at large still has a ways to go.

“The industry has been slow to adopt digital technology and even slower to figure out business models,” he said. “But I think the Journal in particular has been very aggressive and smart at embracing digital and figuring out a business model. They were early in starting to charge for their content, which has proved be a very wise move.”

“It’s definitely been a time of great disruption,” he continued, “which is scary, to a certain extent. But it’s also a time of great opportunity.”

Ante also noted that technology advances have made journalism increasingly competitive, and he sites this as one of the biggest challenges in his specific field.

“The technology area in journalism was one of the first to embrace digital,” he said. “And so you’ve seen this explosion of Internet journalism and blogs; it’s just incredible the amount of activity and competitiveness you see in the technology sector. I enjoy competition – it’s definitely challenging.”

Having received a Pulitzer Prize nomination in 2012, Ante seems to be fairing quite well, competitively speaking. “I was fortunate enough to be part of a team of journalist that was nominated for our work on privacy in the digital age. I had one of the stories in the package which got a nomination.”

Before starting at The Wall Street Journal in 2010, Ante was an associate editor at Bloomberg Businessweek, which he joined in 2000. He holds a master’s degree in journalism from the University of California, Berkeley. He lived in San Francisco for a number of years, enjoying a front row seat to the Internet’s beginnings and the tech boom that followed.

Regarding his time at The Wall Street Journal thus far, Ante stated, “I’ve learned a lot here. There are a ton of tremendous people and I learn from them every day. It’s one of the best places to work in journalism.”

 

Pitching Tips

Pitch to Ante via email. He specifically asks not to be pitched via social media.

Given the heavy flow of emails he receives on a daily basis, he admits that it can be difficult to respond to press materials. He said that a follow-up call or email is often overlooked, but can be very helpful reminders.

Generally speaking, he advises PR pros to “do their homework” and familiarize themselves with his specific coverage.

“The pitch should not be very long,” he added. “Just tell me what the news is – high on the very top of the email – and why it matters to me.”

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