Today, on Coffee with a Journalist, we sit down with Erika Wheless of Digiday. At…
On episode 39 of the Coffee with a Journalist podcast, host, Beck Bamberger, sits down with Christine Hall of Crunchbase News. At Crunchbase News, Christine is a contributing writer covering startups, venture capital, and various tech sectors. During their conversation, Christine discusses her gracious email rapport, the uniqueness of print journalism, and her views on the move to digital.
Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:
Her Work Inbox
Beck Bamberger: Well, let’s get in first to your inbox. How crazy is it with pitches and how do you keep control of it?
Christine Hall: Wow. Yes, my inbox has been crazy. I probably get, I don’t know, 300 emails a day.
BB: Oh, wow. Pitches?
CH: Well, no. I would say it’s maybe like two-thirds pitches and the rest is other things that I get rid of. I’m not sure that I manage it that well. I am one of those people who definitely reads all of my emails.”
BB: Oh, you do?
CH: I do.
BB: Oh, you’re in that rare category. Okay. By “read every email,” do we mean you open every single one?
CH: I don’t open every single one, but I do look for obviously, my name.
If it has my name on it, I do open it up and read the whole thing.”
There’s a lot of those. And a lot of times lately, it seems like it’s emails for another colleague, so I just happily forward it on. But yeah, I do try to respond to each email that comes to me that has my name on it, just because I think that’s a good way to foster relationships with people. And I might not cover it now, but come back to me. You know I read my emails.
BB: Okay. So you were mentioning that you don’t necessarily have a good system, but do you have … When you’re filing them away, as you just mentioned, is there some foldering, is there some flagging? What do we do here?
CH: I am a big folder person. I have I don’t even know how many folders. There’s got to be, I don’t know, 20 different folders that I have for each … Yeah. So one for each beat that I have, and then I have ones of things that I’m looking at, and ones for things that I don’t like, or things that I’ve completed, all of that good stuff.
How She Writes Stories
BB: Yeah. I’m telling you, now especially after 50 of these, I can tell you, you’re in your own category with maybe two other people. Mm-hmm (affirmative). Let me ask you about the coverage that you do, the stories you produce. Where does the impetus for the stories come from? Do they come from pitches, for example, at all? Do they come from a pitch from a VC or like a tip? Because you do cover a lot on fundraises. So what would you say?
I would say maybe like 60% come from a pitch and 40% come from just networking with company founders and VCs.”
BB: Hmm. And how are you networking now with those folks?
CH: Most of it is all virtual calls.
BB: Yeah. Just hopping on a call.
CH: Yeah. And since that I’m a remote worker, even if we weren’t in a pandemic situation. So I think that’s likely to be the case going forward. So for all the conference-calling and all that kind of stuff, that’s actually good technology for me because it makes me feel like I’m not completely out of touch with what’s going on.
BB: Speaking of, I just saw on Twitter that one of my VC friends was posting that they’re seeing job titles like “Head of Remote” popping up for places like Facebook and Google. I’m like, “Wow, what would your job be like if you’re just Head of Remote?” Making sure remote work goes well? I don’t know. Interesting.
CH: I would think so. Yeah. That’s what I would think so. That’s what I would think. Probably making sure that every … Maybe you’re like the King of Slack or something. You’re the person who makes sure everybody is doing what they’re supposed to be doing.
BB: Hmm. But back to networking, especially networking now. How open, I guess, are you to, when someone, either a founder, a VC comes to you and is like, “Oh, Christine, can we do a 10-minute, 15-minute call? I’ve got eight portfolio companies in health tech.” Is that something you respond to?
CH: Yes, definitely. I think it’s one of the most important things that I can do to facilitate relationships, as well as learn more about companies within my industries that I cover.
Her Thoughts on the Future of Journalism
BB: But do love that podcast. Who does it? Karen Kilgariff and Georgia Hardstark. Okay. Well, let’s talk about the future of journalism. What is your take? What do you think?
CH: I think it’s going to be a lot of similar to what I do, where it might not necessarily be like a newspaper that you hold in your hand, but it’s going to be more online. It’s exciting and sad at the same time because I still get … I get newspapers at my house. I get the Houston Chronicle and the Wall Street Journal every day. Yeah, I enjoy sitting, and reading, and holding it my hand, and all that kind of … I mean, I still get magazines.
BB: Ooh, which magazines? We didn’t cover that. Which magazines?
CH: Yes. Pretty much, they’re girly ones. Yeah. InStyle, Shape, Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Martha Stewart Living, Real Simple. Though maybe they’re not girly as much as I live in a house and you can tell.
BB: Yeah. You live in a house. Yeah. That’s perfect. Oh, that’s great. Okay. Okay. So back to the future of journalism. So on that thought, you were saying?
CH: Yeah. I think it’s going to be digital.
I hope that there are lots of students, people like me when I was in elementary school, in middle school, and high school, that are like, “Oh, I love learning about things and writing about it and helping people understand.”
And so I hope that there’s a lot of people like that out now, and that it’s not something that … Because there are universities and colleges out there that I remember, a while ago … It’s been a while. I haven’t kept up with it now, but that were dropping their journalism programs.
CH: Yeah. So I hope that that’s kind of slowed down. I hope that it is evolving in a way that causes people to have that same kind of passion that those of us who do it now have.
BB: Mm-hmm (affirmative). Do you think that there’s going to be a time, though, that you can’t get those magazines?
CH: I think so. I know that when I subscribe to the magazines and even The Wall Street Journal and the Houston Chronicle, they’re always like, “Check your digital subscriptions.” And I’m not so-
BB: I’m like, “I don’t want to check my digital subscriptions.”
CH: … No. I mean The Wall Street Journal is nice. I do go on there. It’s nice to have it on a website. But magazines? I’ve tried to read magazines from my iPad and I didn’t really enjoy it as much.
BB: Yeah. It’s not the same.
CH: You can’t tear out the pages with the recipes on them, or the beauty product that I want to go buy.
BB: Yeah. It’s not the same. And that’s something I’ve talked with a couple of people about, is things are experiential. And there is something about an experience of touching a page, and flipping the page of a book, putting it in your hands, being outside, let’s say, swinging on your porch or wherever you are, and experiencing that. Or let’s say it’s a paper, and you do it every morning, and you’re drinking your coffee, and it’s on your table with, whatever, your bagel. And there’s something about an experience there that you can’t get with flipping it on an iPad.
CH: Right. I agree.
Though an avid reader of print journalism, Christine is well aware of the shift toward digital media. As the industry shifts, the roles each media type plays in your work change. Check out our article, The Pros & Cons of Different Types of Media, to understand how different media types affect your PR efforts.