There’s a growing trend for reporters to say (on their Twitter profile naturally) that they write at the intersection of two or three things. Finance and tech, or climate and retailing.
Mostly, not exclusively, this terminology is used in the US, and often by the brightest, most ambitious reporters and columnists. It helps their individual brands.
Media outlets would say the development reflects new and complex issues that criss cross traditional beats – like climate, diversity and equity, crypto, supply chains. It also reflects tech disruption across industries, and the rise of regulation and politics in business. And that it reflects a breakdown of traditional barriers between media content consumed by individuals in their free time that they (used to) pay for, and content consumed in trade media for their jobs that their employer pays for. Some newer outlets like Axios or Politico, are especially keen on positioning reporters in this way.
What does this mean for communications practioners? It means being creative about media target lists and not simply thinking in terms of industry and similar beats, to the extent that press releases still matter. It means thinking hard about exactly who to target for a story, even if much of their writing seems less in the domain you care about. Most important, it means using language, jargon, tone and relevance in releases and individual media pitches that appeal specifically to the “intersection” writer, and doesn’t immediately get them to switch off, assuming irrelevance.
I do see some downsides to the “intersection” trend. If you write at the intersection of logistics, finance and tech, you’re not expected to cover every logistics story. So you pick and choose, perhaps with the result that in thinner newsrooms unexciting but important sector stories get missed. Intersection reporters can afford to be magpies. But for now, it’s a trend, it often brings a fresh perspective to things, and it’s important for effective media relations to seize coverage opportunities that arise.
Who are these intersection reporters? Here are 12 with their self descriptions:
- Lananh Nguyen, New York Times: “about banks and the intersection of Wall St & Main St”
- Oliver Darcy, CNN: “covering the intersection of media & politics. sometimes tech”
- Tom Hamburger, Washington Post: “covering the intersection of money and politics”
- Alexandra Samuels, FiveThirtyEight: “the intersection of race and politics”
- Sheryl Gay Stolberg, New York Times: “covering the intersection of health, policy & politics”
- Bill Donahue, Billboard: “covering the intersection of the music biz and the law”
- Matthew Perrone, AP: “covering the intersection of medicine, money and public policy”
- Zoe Tillman, BuzzFeedNews: “the intersection of law and politics”
- Kenny Jacoby, USA Today: “covering the intersection of sexual violence/harassment & universities, policing and sports”
- Heekyong Yang, Reuters: “the intersection of South Korea's unique corporate world and government”
- Mary Umberger, Chicago Tribune: “the intersection of real estate and design”
- Justin Worland, Time: “climate change and the intersection of policy, politics and society”
Andrew Marshall is the deputy chairman of Cognito. He tweets about the intersection of derivatives regulation and German local elections at @Andrew_Marshall