Ask a journalist – Phil Harvey

October 10, 2019 | Posted by: Outside Labs

US Bureau Chief
Phil Harvey is the US Bureau Chief for Light Reading. He manages all US editorial operations and news coverage. He’s been an editor and writer for Light Reading for more than 13 years combined.

Q: Can you give us a short overview of your career as a reporter? How did you get started?
A: My tech journalism career began at UPSIDE Magazine in Silicon Valley. Before that, I worked on a variety of freelance stories for community newspapers in North Texas. In 2000, after I worked at the Red Herring, I was hired by Light Reading to cover optical networking and telecom equipment companies. I worked at Light Reading until 2013, and then joined the company again in 2018.

Q: What is the most difficult / rewarding part of the work you do?
A: The most difficult part is dealing with the structural limitations, budgets and bureaucracies of the companies that produce B2B content and events. The most rewarding part is being able to produce good stories and reasonably good coverage despite those setbacks.

Q: How do you see the industry changing?
A: I think the decentralization of content, the emergence of mixed realities, AI-driven apps and cloud computing are changing all of the industries I work in and write about—media, telecom, cable and tech—in all kinds of ways.

Q: How do these changes affect how you work and the stories you write?
A: We cover businesses that are, all at once, being eroded and helped by these trends, so they make up the majority of the “why” behind the business stories that we write.

Q: What media trends do you think will be around for a while?
A: Media consolidation will continue. Information sources will keep popping up and the content will continue to be more decentralized. Audience attention spans will continue to shrink. The price of everything will keep going up.

Q: What advice can you give PR profs? How can we best help you?
A: I don’t work in PR, so take this with a grain of salt, but it probably helps a lot to expect that most reporters will not respond to most pitches. The number of companies, agencies, and individuals seeking coverage via email pitches is more than we can reasonably reply to on a given day.

Q: Any pet peeves we should avoid?
A: Maybe there are some but I don’t think it matters. Clients will usually insist that you do stuff that isn’t effective and probably nothing I say here will stop you.

Q: What are you reading now? What do you do in your not-a-reporter / editor time?
A: I read a lot of magazines for news and features—Wired, Vanity Fair, Smithsonian, Texas Monthly and British Photography Journal to name a few. I read the Texas Tribune as a state and local news source.

In my not-a-reporter time, I’m a photographer.