There's an interesting story doing the rounds, about a Wired journalist, Fred Vogelstein, who asked Jason Calacanis (prolific blogger and internet entrepreneur) for an interview. Calacanis said yes, but only if the interview could be conducted by email. Vogelstein put the whole exchange on the web and accused Calacanis of being cowardly. Calacanis has defended his decision via his blog. And has followed up with a very entertaining podcast exchange (audio only - first minute covers this story) recording a subsequent phone conversation between the two men.
For me, it begs the very interesting question: who owns the story? Is it the reader, the journalist, or the interviewee? I'm sure all would stake a claim. A truthful report is obviously the best outcome for the reader, but even a true account can be objectified in all sorts of ways by the journo. Would his objective be to offer a faithful account of Calacanis' responses? Or to try and dig around for the more interesting subtext that might sell more copies of his magazine?
I think, given the choice, I'd prefer to give an interview like this by email as well. Not only for the same reasons at Calacanis, but also so I can review and shape my thoughts and responses as they're being composed. I amended this blog posting several times during it's construction, and hopefully my views are expressed more eloquently as a result. Calacanis is clearly a very smart and very confident speaker; I'm less so on both counts.
But at the end of the day, I suppose it comes down to how much you need the press. As Calacanis points out, "I have 10,000 people come to my blog every day--i don't need wired to talk to the tech industry". Lucky for him! In the event I'm ever asked to do an interview, I doubt very much whether I would have that luxury!
I'd like to make a tenuous link to this entertaining story too: a PR guy who works for Edelmann happened to mention on his Twitter page that he throws his free copy of PC Magazine in the bin. The editor of PC magazine (part of Ziff-Davis empire, who produce the excellent dl.tv) responded saying that he'd now be less inclined to give interviews with Edelmann's clients. And witness the PR guy trying his best to undo the damage. Fake Steve Jobs goes to town on him.
It all just goes to show how important communication is in this industry. I'm a strong advocate of radical transparency, but you've got to be very careful what you say to whom. It can't be undone.
Update 26/4/07: Jeff Javis has covered this issue in some style on his blog.