Jeremy Kaplan is the Editor-In-Chief for DigitalTrends.com. He grew up surrounded by technology and with a fascination for tinkering with things from computers to engines, though he’d always hoped to end up a book publisher. As Editor-In-Chief for a technology publication, it sounds like he landed somewhere in between.
1. What publications/ outlets are you currently reporting for?
I’m @smashdawg, which seemed like a clever idea when I came up with it, and now seems like the handle of a beer-swilling fratboy. Did I err?
2. What topics/ beats/ stories are of special interest to you right now?
There’s a really remarkable amount of neat stuff happening in technology these days. I think the sensorization of everything is fascinating to watch. Did you notice how quickly every single sink across the planet grew automatic sensors to detect when your hands are there? How long will it take until every thermostat simply reacts when you wake up or walk into a room? The Internet of Things has enormous potential. Beyond that, I think the world of sports is changing faster than most people realize. And I mean for amateurs far more than the pros.
3. Please provide a brief bio.
Let’s see. When I was born, Jupiter was in the second house and there was a waxing gibbous, which I think is a monkey, but sounds sort of like what you’d expect to hear from a fortune teller. All of which means I’m a pretty eclectic guy. I play crummy guitar in my free time. I’ve taken to gardening in recent years – I pickled the hell out of some veggies last season. I like working with my hands – I rebuilt a scooter engine or two for fun one time.
4. Why did you become a journalist?
Did I? Good to know! Growing up with an engineer for a father meant we had tech around the house at all times. I’ve always liked putting things together and taking them apart, whether it’s Legos or PCs. But I thought I would get into book publishing. I thought I would hobnob with the literary stars over 3-martini lunches. I’m still waiting for that to happen.
5. What stories (or project) of yours are you most proud of and why?
I interviewed Phil Abram from GM last year, and I was really pleased with the article that came out of it. That never happens because of the writer – Phil was wonderfully smart and engaging, and said some fascinating things. And watching the car industry change is a hobby of mine. (I know. I’m weird.) And a few weeks before that, I wrote an indictment of the smartwatch industry that still makes me chuckle. This bit was great:
“Are you aware that many experts think the wrist isn’t really the best place to detect the biometric data you’re trying to sell your products on? Have you considered the ear, for example, or the upper arm? Or the navel? Have you gazed at that, recently?”
When I was at Fox, I worked with reporter Jana Winter to expose Sabu, the ringleader of hacking group Lulzsec. We did a series of articles that was just wonderful (part 1, part 2, and part 3.) We also found a series of photos of him eating donuts that was just fantastic. I also wrote the best lede for a story on Gustave Whitehead, who some people think flew before the Wright Brothers: “Are they righting a wrong or wronging the Wrights?”
6. What’s the best pitch you ever got?
That’s a tougher question to answer than you might think. As a technology reviews site, we get peppered with pitches about products. These days, with IndieGogo and Kickstarter, we get peppered with pitches about potential products. The best of ‘em are short, and to the point. Take, for example, the world if iPhone cases. (Which frankly, must be insanely lucrative based on the number of pitches I get per day about these things. Personally, I don’t even use a case. I also don’t use an iPhone. But I digress.) I don’t need 1,000 words about a case, I need two good sentences. Why is it different, and why should people care?
The best pitches are short, which I know isn’t easy. Tight writing is hard. But I shouldn’t have to wade through details to get to the good stuff.
7. What are some tips for people who want to pitch you a story?
I hate reading that I should cover a product because it was already covered extensively elsewhere. The Wall Street Journal wrote about this, so you should too? Why would I bother? It’s already been covered. I hate pitches that make me work, even just a little. Yes, I’m that lazy. “Please take five minutes to watch this video I made.” I would much rather you spent five minutes writing a few sentences to me.
I’ve also come around on one thing: I used to appreciate a phone call or email follow up. Because it’s true, things DO get buried in people’s in boxes. But lately, I’m getting tired of them, for one simple reason: Nothing gets buried in my inbox. I read everything that comes in. If I didn’t reply, it’s because I’m not interested.
8. When do you prefer to be pitched? How much lead-time, or what days/times are most appropriate?
Dunno. Whenever is fine. We don’t work on a monthly or weekly schedule. Now is good. You free now?
9. What’s something most people don’t know about you?
All of the above?