Sign in/sign up

5 Minutes with Peter Wells

By Seamus Byrne in Media News on
What do you do and where does your work appear?
I write about technology and podcasts for the Sydney Morning Herald. It’s a lot of fun. I also have a day job in IT, which is less fun but pays the bills.
 
Anything else in your career you’ve been known for?
I guess I fell into this by convincing my good friend (and Mactalk owner) Anthony Agius we should do a podcast. This was 2007, when only Apple nerds listened to podcasts, so we’d often outrank Hamish and Andy back then.
 
What did you really want to be when you were growing up?
The first job I really wanted was as a radio DJ - completely by chance, I was probably 12, delivering Chinese food to a radio station (helping my mum on a casual job) and everything about the studio was cool as hell. Radio kept me sane during uni, and then I discovered podcasts, and I’ve always loved that intimate connection of audio.
 
Which story or stories are you most proud of?
I’m not sure I’ve ever been proud of a tech story I’ve written, but I’ve been proud of a turn of phrase every now and then. Having said that, I really love when I write about a small indie podcast and they suddenly get an uptick in listeners, or they’re just so proud to be in the paper. Those moments are wonderful, and remind me how cool this gig is sometimes.
 
What's your secret superpower?
I can barely remember a name, but I can remember every detail of every scandal in tech of the last twenty years.
 
What are three top tips you can give PR pros for working with you effectively?
Understand that I only have one column a week, and as much as I would love to write about everything, I have to sift through the things I’m playing with to determine what deserves to be written about; because it is better than most, has a unique selling point, or is unbelievably bad. Most products or services fall in the middle of the bell curve, they’re not good, bad, or even interesting enough to write about, in that one spot a week.
 
Related to that, there’s a good chance I might not write a review about your product, but getting to know your product makes me a better writer and commentator, so please don’t stop sending review units, just because you’ve missed coverage a few times in a row. Some of the best innovations come from the most unlikely sources. I always think back to how well Blackberry, as it was circling the drain, came up with the best work/life balance on a smartphone. I still refer back to it in reviews to this day. So I may not review your product, but it may appear in another review as “Samsung did this better” or “LG did this better”…
 
I absolutely hate the new trend of receiving a product 8 hours before embargo releases. I understand you don’t want leaks, but if you have a product you’re proud of, at least give us two weeks to play with and get to know before we’re expected to write a review.
 
How do you like to start a PR relationship if you've never been in touch before?
Awkwardly, as I start all relationships. Generally I find some really cool new product, then search my email for another product from that brand. I email the person who says “oh, we don’t rep that brand anymore…” And then I try to figure out who does. By the way, if you know who does, just tell me! I’ll love you forever if you do.
 
What's the most important lesson you've learned about journalism?
I don’t think anything I do could be considered journalism. But the most important lesson I’ve learned about writing reviews is that if you write something that ignores a glaring fault, when you read it back a few years later, you’ll be really disappointed in yourself, and you’ll wonder how many people bought that thing, and will never trust another word you write. Not that I think the average person pays that much attention to bylines, but to sleep at night, I need to point out the faults when I see them.
 
How do you hunt for good stories?
Because writing isn’t my day job, I have to be pragmatic about the stories I write. For the most part, I write reviews, which I do think serve a purpose, but they’re hardly pulitzer material. But three or four times a year I’ll give myself the time to gather a story with a bit more research and effort. Mainly these are about the way technology intersects with society, be it social media's role in shaping social discourse, or sexism in technology, or whatever. I don’t really hunt these down, they’re more big picture issues that I really want to write about, because I’m frustrated by those kinds of things daily, but want to make sure I get my point across concisely.
 
What's been the biggest change in the industry over the past decade?
I’ve only been around half a decade, but it’s sad to see how many tech journalists have retired or moved on. If it were up to me, the tech section of our national newspapers would be bigger than the sports section (and I’m one of those rare nerds who loves sports) because I think the impact of technology on our lives is probably second only to climate change (which is also a technology story), COVID not withstanding.
 
What do you think is the most important issue facing the tech industry today?
Ethics. So many tech companies seem to value growth and shareholder value over the impact they have on society. Facebook and Twitter could have been amazing tools of social building, instead both companies are tearing society and democracy apart, so their shareholders get a few extra million. On YouTube, it takes just a few recommendations to start at a Bananas in Pyjamas clip and end up at a white supremacist video. It’s so fucking depressing.
 
What's the biggest issue facing journalism?
Money and time. The best stories take time to research, to interview, to investigate. When there’s no money to do that, there’s no time to do that.
 
Exclusives are everything. Discuss.
Eh. Depends who’s calling it an exclusive. If it is an exclusive story, fair play to you.If it’s an exclusive press release, you know 48 other people have also been given the exclusive.
 
What do you wish you'd never have to explain to readers ever again?
Apple’s Butterfly keyboards.
 
Name a recent story you wish you'd written.
I wish I’d written something on the COVIDSafe app performance on the iPhone. My colleagues Ben Grubb and Tim Biggs at SMH did excellent jobs, and so did many other Australian journalists, but I really wish I had the chance, because I felt that was in my wheelhouse.
 
Who is the best journo in the industry and why?
Kara Swisher. She’s taken the time to know everyone and everything. She is confident enough to know when she is being fed bullshit, and she will point it out point by point. But she also has a humanity to everything she writes, she gets that tech isn’t just products, there are people involved in every step, be it the narcissist CEO or the starving worker on the supply chain.
 
Which industry publications, podcasts or other productions are on your unmissable list?
Pivot - with Kara Swisher and Scott Galloway.
 
How do you keep up with what your colleagues are writing?
I follow them on twitter. :)
 
Which app has changed your life more than any other?
I still think the most important app of the smartphone era is Google Maps. Seeing it on a friend’s imported iPhone (before they were on sale in Australia) I realised everyone would have a smartphone in a few years.
 
Favourite screen-free hobbies?
Walking with a favourite podcast. Does that count?
 
What’s your go-to song at karaoke?
Freedom ’90 - George Michael.
 
Favourite sporting moment?
 
What's your favourite game of all time?
GTA IV - the last great GTA when they still cared about story.
 
Name five discs you'd want to be stuck with on a desert island?
Crooked Rain
Fear Of A Black Planet
Paul’s Boutique
The College Dropout
Surrender
 
What was your favourite TV show of the 2010s?
Battlestar Galactica, even though the last season sucked. ‘Tis better to have loved and lost…
 
What vices do you lean into when you're chasing a tight deadline?
Beer, of course! And when in Europe, a cheeky ciggie.
 
What's the most ridiculous buzzword in the industry?
It really depends on the context. If you tell me your new virtual assistant is powered by AI, cool, if you tell me your new gaming mouse is powered by AI, I might be a little more skeptical. See also: blockchain, agile, vertical, etc.
 
The PR fairy calls saying you can have the interview of your dreams. Who's it gonna be?
Depends… Elon Musk or Travis Kalanick if they’d taken a truth serum. If not, I would love to chat with Hairforce One - Craig Federighi.

Membership privileges

  • Read and comment an all stories
  • Weekly digest of media and PR news (optional)
  • Post media releases to PRWire newswire
  • Advertise job vacancies
  • List your business in our PR directory


Please note that Influencing is used EXCLUSIVELY by media and influencers, as well as professionals who manage marketing and communications within their organisations, so we need a work email address.

More Media News

Permission to speak honestly

By Seamus Byrne in Media News on

 

We work in an industry where a search for the seed of truth is at the heart of informing readers. What is really happening behind the glossy pictures and polished speech?
 
This is something that journalists strive to find in their work, but it’s also something they struggle to do themselves when the media industry is in such a precarious position.
 
“How’s work?”
“Great. Busy, but, yeah, things are going well!”
 
I’ve heard a variation of this theme many times when I’m catching up with colleagues. Even with good friends. It takes a while for people to get comfortable and let the protective veneer slip back to say what’s really happening. Typically, it’s too much work, not enough support, the eternal sense that jobs could be cut or outlets closed with little notice. Because the bosses are usually telling the editorial teams that “everything is great” until it suddenly isn’t.
 

Savvides takes charge of SBS

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

The SBS network has selected George Savvides as the new chairman of the board. 

He had spent the past month as interim chair following Dr Bulent Hass Dellal’s exit after two terms lasting a total of ten years. His previous management roles include managing director of Medibank and Medibank Private, and chairing World Vision Australia.

Savvides joined the SBS board in 2017 and had led its remuneration committee, then later moved up to deputy chairman. He also works in the SBS community advisory committee.

“Over 45 years, SBS has played a vital role in informing and shaping Australia, not only meeting the needs of multicultural communities and our First Nations people, but helping all Australians explore and celebrate our diversity. It is a truly unique organisation, supporting economic and civil participation, and striving to inspire all Australians to experience the benefits of social inclusion,” said Savvides of his appointment.

“SBS’s role for t

Snow falls anew on Triple M Brisbane

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

Graeme Snow has signed up with Triple M Brisbane as its new executive producer for The Big Breakfast with Marto, Margaux and Nick Cody.

He joined following a recent recruitment search and will start working on 27 July.

Snow came after three years with FOX Sports Queensland, and prior to that he was EP for former Triple M Brisbane breakfast shows The Cage and The Grill Team Brisbane.

“My time at Fox Sports was truly a fairy tale, from creating a human NRL trophy, to helping Fletch and Hindy survive four days in a bubble tent outside of Suncorp Stadium to being in the ring carrying the Australian flag for the Horn v Mundine fight, I had a ball. COVID19 brought this time to an end, and if it didn’t, the ducks wouldn’t have aligned for this position,” said Snow.

“Returning to Triple M really does feel like coming home. Anyone who has been lucky enough to work there will tell you that it really is like a massive family.”

SEN taps Riewoldt

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

The Sports Entertainment Network (SEN) has welcomed Richmond Tigers AFL star Jack Riewoldt on board for a new weekly one-hour show on SEN1116, under the club’s partnership with Swinburne University of Technology.

Premiering at 6PM AEST on 13 July, Jack Riewoldt’s Tiger Time will feature Riewoldt’s thoughts on the current season including taking a look at the Tigers’ performance in the previous round. He will also talk with Richmond alumni and fans. 

The show will run for ten weeks.

“It’s been weird not having fans at our games this season, but I’m sure I’ll hear the Tiger Army loud and clear on Monday nights on SEN. I’m looking forward to chewing the fat with some special guests and chatting with listeners who I expect will have plenty to say each week! Hopefully we can turn on some good footy despite the difficult circumstances of this season and keep the conversation nice!” said Riewoldt.

Which-50 bought by Boardroom.Media

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

Digital content portal Which-50 has been officially acquired by multimedia outfit Boardroom.Media. 

Which-50 editor-in-chief Andrew Birmingham said the purchase agreement was signed late last week. 

The brand and website will be retained as its staff is integrated within the Boardroom organizational structure. 

“We will keep writing the stories we have always written. We will also utilise the Boardroom Media capabilities and incorporate video and other multimedia into our coverage,” explained Birmingham.

“Another change the Which-50 audience should expect is to see a wider range of perspectives in stories. Traditionally we would interview chief digital officers, or CMOs or CIOs in our stories, or founders if they are an emerging business. With the expanded focus expect also to see more perspectives from CEOs, CFOs, HR, risk managers. We always wanted to do this in the past, but lacked the scale to do so.”

The acquisition came months into a pa

Knowing who journalists write for

By Seamus Byrne in Media News on

 

Following on from the question of having your contact buckets in order last week, and bouncing off Redrup’s 5 Minutes yesterday, there’s an important issue that constantly crops up in discussions with other journalists about what goes wrong in PR pitches.
 
“Why are you pitching me this? I would never write about this.”
 
The ‘me’ in that sentence is critical. We know why you’re pitching it. It’s your job.
 
But if you treat everyone in your contact bucket as exactly the same – a generic list that tells your client you contacted THIS MANY journalists – then you get a reputation as a timewaster that starts to get filtered into our own special bucket… the ‘Ignore’ list.
 
Journalists are under the pump. Overworked. Underpaid. Time poor. And when I say that I don’t want to discount that PR teams are also under a lot of pressure to move fast and hit targets. But, like those

3MP radio back on the air

By Jonas Lopez in Media News on

The ACE Radio Network has officially reactivated Victoria regional station 3MP.

The network stated that the new 3MP will be an Easy Music station catering to the Mornington Peninsula over 1377AM. It will also be available on Melbourne DAB+, iHeartRadio, and CRA’s RadioApp. 

SEN granted ACE Radio the licence. 

Launching out of Frankston in July 1976, the original station, 3MP Classic Hits, was changed when the Pacific Star Network rebranded it as Classic Rock Radio in 2016.

ACE Radio announcer Emily Canning kicked off the broadcast on Friday night. 

John Vertigan and Julie Strini are hosting The Easy Breakfast, followed by Canning from 9AM to 3PM. Cathy Jubb is on drive and primetime duties from 3PM to 9PM, while Dave Drinkell goes on the late-night run.

More News latest

Moore to leave WPP AUNZ
WPP AUNZ’s Kieran Moore is standing down.

Haystac lands Springfree Trampoline account
Haystac is now representing Springfree Trampoline.

Slack taps new APAC comms manager
Slack has enlisted a new APAC communications head.

RED Havas earns Hydralyte account
Hydralyte has tapped RED Havas for representation.

AKQA/Switched On merger complete
The merger of AKQA and Switched On is done.