EXCLUSIVE: Washington Post’s Download column returns

EXCLUSIVE: Washington Post's Download column returns - top government contractors - best government contracting event

EXCLUSIVE: Washington Post's Download column returns - top government contractors - best government contracting eventRemember the Washington Post's Download column? Up until its hiatus in 2006, Download offered readers the inside scoop on the tech community's major players and trends. This coming Monday past readers of the column have reason again to rejoice; that's when the Post's Kim Hart kicks off the columns long-awaited return. In an exclusive interview with ExecutiveBiz, Hart tells us about her background, the trends she hopes to cover in the column, and the kinds of pitches she and her colleagues can't resist.

What is your background? How did you end up at the Washington Post?

Kim Hart: I have always been drawn to journalism. I received a degree in it from the University of Florida, and then a master’s degree from the University of Maryland. That’s how I ended up in the Washington area. Soon after graduating, I was an intern at the Post and have been at the paper for a little over two years now, covering various areas of technology. I covered the local business community for nearly a year before switching to cover telecommunications and then Web 2.0. I’m now shifting my focus back to the local players in the area.

You will be restarting the Download column. Tell us about the goals of the column and the focus.

Kim Hart: The Download column has been dark for more than two years now, and I’ve heard from many people in the tech community that it is missed. I think reviving the column will shed light on all the activity going on in region, some of which has gone uncovered in the Post’s pages. I’m especially interested in chronicling the deals getting made and companies being created, as well as the personalities behind them. I also hope the column will help readers understand how the Washington tech scene has evolved and where it is headed.

How often do you blog every week? Will that be part of the Download column?

Kim Hart: I try to blog at least three times a week on the Post I.T. blog, which is the Post’s technology blog. The Download column will be featured on the Post I.T. blog, and I hope to contribute even more news from local companies on the blog in the future. I’m hoping the blog will become a reliable source of news for those interested in what’s going on in the area. I’m always open to new ideas, so I’d love to hear from folks who want to share some news, or just want to pass on some juicy tidbits of info. At first, the Download column will run every other Monday in the Washington Business section. Eventually, I hope it will become a weekly feature.

In your opinion, what makes a good story?

Kim Hart: I think the best stories are those that shed new light on a particular subject, issue or person, while at the same time manage to entertain. Giving readers a glimpse at another person’s life or job can be very revealing while also telling a larger story about a company, an industry or the region. It’s getting harder and harder to compete for readers’ time, and I aim to reward that investment with a story they’ll care about–or at least enjoy reading.

What industries/people are you watching closely in the area? What is your biggest challenge as a reporter?

Kim Hart: I’m trying to answer the first question myself, as I’m just now getting to know the main players and issues. Of course, I am paying attention to the entrepreneurial community in all areas–social media, clean technology, software, biotechnology–and the investors who are betting on them. I’m also interested in the mature companies that have been the economic backbone of this region: government contractors. I’m particularly interested in getting to know the IT contracting community.

In my opinion, a reporter’s biggest challenge is finding a way to synthesize dozens of opinions, data points and observations into something that has meaning for readers. My highest priority is to accurately portray the people and companies I write about. Collecting all the relevant information is sometimes hard to do on deadline, but it’s very important to me. And providing a window into the business community is a high priority for my editors as well.

What do public relations and communications professionals do wrong when pitching you or your colleagues a story?

Kim Hart: I think it’s really important to do some homework to gauge what the reporters are interested in covering, and if they’ve recently written a story similar to the one you’re pitching to them. Getting in touch with reporters via email is most effective, I think. Long, drawn-out voicemails are likely to be quickly deleted.

What can readers of the business section expect from the Post in the future?

Kim Hart: You’ll see Post reporters putting a lot of energy into creating content for our Web site. Like most newspapers, the Post is trying to do as much as possible with fewer resources. But reporters and editors are also trying to sharpen our focus to zero in on what matters most to our readers. So feedback and ideas are always extremely helpful.

What is something most people don’t know about you?

Kim Hart: Shouldn’t I be the one asking questions like that? Hmmmm…I’m an amateur photographer (very amateur), and I’m getting married in May.

Interview with Kim Hart was conducted by JD Kathuria

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