Axios Media — a new media venture founded by former Politico executives — is beefing up its tech team with the new hiring of longtime reporter Ina Fried as its chief tech correspondent in San Francisco.
Fried said her job will be to take some of the largest technology stories of the day — whether it’s about a new smartphone, some major shift in the political landscape that affects tech, or anything beyond that — and break it down into what it means in short form for readers. Pretty much everything intersects with technology in some way in the world today, so the challenge won’t necessarily be about finding content but figuring out how to put it in the right context.
“It’s the things going on in tech that the whole world needs to care about, or the whole country,” Fried said. “That doesn’t mean dumbing it down. It means explaining how it matters, and there’s a big difference. The whole idea of Axios is to be short and smart, which is something I’ve always aspired to do — to take complex ideas and inner deals and explain them clearly.”
Fried joined CNET in May 2000 covering technology, and then joined AllThingsD in 2010 which would eventually morph into Recode. From that sense, she has a wide range of experience working with media organizations that have a history in different kinds of businesses — ranging from traditional digital media to ones with big events. Newsletters are naturally in the cards, as that’s also become an increasingly popular method of getting media into the hands of readers.
“If someone’s done a great job explaining something, one of the things that Axios does is highlight that and distill it,” Fried said. “It’s not about pure aggregation, it’s where you have the inside track and expertise breaking those stories. It’ll be a mix of those two things. I’m a scoop reporter, I want to break stories for sure, and I also want to point people to the best things I’m seeing and reading and add a counterpoint occasionally.”
For Fried, Axios wasn’t just attractive because of its prospects as a strong publication. It was also from the founders’ experience building media organizations and the potential for Axios to be a strong, sustainable media organization. The media landscape looks quite different today from when it did when Fried started off, which requires a whole re-thinking of how to build a media business — whether that’s through conferences, new ways of advertising or subscriptions.
“I think journalism as a whole has work to do,” Fried said. “To have good journalism we really need multiple healthy business models that can fund that. And we’re still in the process of figuring that out. What attracted me to [Recode co-founders] Walt [Mossberg] and Kara [Swisher] was, they’re incredible journalists and great entrepreneurs. Similar with Axios, they have Jim [VandeHei] and Mike [Allen], they have built journalism businesses. I want Recode to be successful, and Axios, and BuzzFeed, because we need new businesses that work.”
The whole hiring started with a big inside joke in the tech media world. Axios editor Dan Primack sent out a tweet pointing to a job listing for Axios which included the benefit of not having to work with Farhad Manjoo. (Manjoo is a tech columnist for the New York Times — who is both great, and someone who you want to say “GOSH DAD” to on the regular basis.) Fried then started talking to Primack, and then it went from there.