TALKING BIZ NEWS EXCLUSIVE
William Inman was named the editor in chief of TheStreet.com, replacing Glenn Hall in a move shortly after the financial news and information company also hired a new chief executive officer.
Before that, he spent 17-plus years at Bloomberg News, where he created a content publishing unit — eventually including magazines, books, and a public website.
He had been a reporter for United Press International, where he was nominated for Pulitzer prizes for stories on organized crime, Russian import/export corruption and Pentagon contract abuses. He was also once North American editor of Business magazine, a joint venture between Conde Nast and the Financial Times.
Inman spoke Thursday by e-mail with Talking Biz News about his plans for the editorial side of TheStreet.com. What follows is an edited transcript.
Why did you accept the job as editor in chief of TheStreet.com?
It has a great brand and editorial tradition, with some obvious areas that could be improved.
As an outsider, what did you perceive as its editorial strengths?
Its core coverage – stock picking, plus some notable category strengths, among these gold, biotech, emerging markets, technology.
What were its weaknesses?
IMHO it lost the markets focus that was a founding mandate 15 years ago. Somehow the line got blurred about what constituted good investment coverage. Previously, for instance, we posted stories on luxury travel and brands of whiskey, even celebrities at play.
Clearly some of these were driven purely by advertising, but the shift in focus did a disservice IMO to our traditional reader – the non-professional individual investor. So we have returned to our roots in a sense … I also felt there was a tendency toward compartmentalization that hurt coverage.
Previously, for instance, there was a small team in Boston that handled ALL of editorial’s social media contacts. Now everybody finds time to tweet and post stories on Facebook, Google plus, Pinterest, etc.
Lastly, I was keen on bringing back the joy of solid, impactful journalism–encouraging more wins, scoops, hard-edged reporting that changes things for the better.
What have you been working on in your first month on the job?
Doing a pivot from a large, full-time staff with few contributors and specialist writers, to a smaller core staff and many, many more expert contributors. (Editor’s note: There were layoffs at TheStreet.com recently.)
With a new CEO, is the strategy of TheStreet.com changing?
Yes, along the same lines as editorial—–creating a core body of staffers supplemented by best contractors.
How does editorial fit into the company’s overall strategy?
One and the same
How has the program of providing editorial content to newspaper web sites help?
It broadens readership, brand awareness and opportunities via revenue sharing.
How will you tweak the editorial strategy of the company?
It will become a focus on telling smart people things they don’t already know about the markets.
Is the future of business news more paid online content?
I think a balance. There are still tremendous opportunities selling advertising on a popular free site. By building that audience, we also expand the pool of potential subscribers — a strategy Bloomberg has used effectively.
One of the company’s big attractions is Jim Cramer. How do you keep him involved in editorial?
Jim Cramer is our greatest strength, but he won’t always be around. So I’m seeking to grow editorial talent – future Jim Cramers if you will. That is no easy task.
Where would you like to see TheStreet.com’s editorial content in five years?
Mobile and global.