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Coffee With A Journalist: Samson Amore, TheWrap

Coffee with a Journalist: Samson Amore, TheWrap

On episode 24 of Coffee with a Journalist, host Beck Bamberger sits down with Samson Amore, Technology and Gaming Reporter at the Santa Monica-based entertainment news outlet TheWrap. Samson covers all things entertainment from industry news to the analysis of gaming, podcasts, and emerging technology. During their conversation, Beck and Samson discuss his balance crafting stories between pitches and original reporting, gaming’s intersection with everyday life, and his surprising advice for future journalists.

Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:

His Work Inbox

Beck:

Oh yeah. You have plenty. So speaking of, how does your inbox look?

Samson:

My inbox is actually very clean because I just went through it, but on an average day it’s a mess. I wish that I could say that I’d figured this out earlier, but I just realized how to sort my Gmail so that unread is at the top of the inbox and that’s been immensely helpful. I don’t know how I was using email for so long without doing that.

Beck:

I would not survive unless I had that. Oh my God.

Samson:

I don’t know how I was existing without this.

Beck:

We learn something every day. How many pitches are you getting would you say a day?

Samson:

Oh man. I mean it’s funny, I was thinking about that question in advance of this podcast and I tried to look, and I would say anywhere from 25 to 30 on a conservative day. But that’s also counting the pitches that we get to sort of the general line for TheWrap, so a lot of that stuff isn’t specifically a pitch for me.

Beck:

Oh, that’s not that bad.

Samson:

Yeah. I mean, I’m being conservative. I didn’t actually count everything, but especially now though with everything that’s been going on in the games world and that kind of intersection of gaming and politics, I’ve been getting a whole lot more people dropping into the inbox literally just saying, “Hey, I have thoughts, and do you want them?”

Beck:

Yeah. God bless them. Well, what makes you open a pitch, or are you one of those people that reads every single pitch?

Samson:

Oh God, I shouldn’t say this on this podcast because people will take advantage of it, but I do read every single pitch. I do.

Beck:

Oh, you’re not alone Samson.

Samson:

Unless it’s very clearly from the subject line something that’s not in my beat, like I don’t cover finance explicitly anymore so those I’ll tend to sort of skim and not really delve into, but I do, I read everything because I feel like I can’t afford to miss something. I mean, if I just start cleaning the inbox like, “Okay, that looks dumb. I’m not even reading it,” then I might be missing out on something that’s actually really worthwhile.

Beck:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). So you have that approach. Kind of a little FOMO-ish of I must see everything in order to know I don’t miss it. Aha.

Samson:

Yeah. Well, it’s sort of helpful to just sort of know what’s going on.

Beck:

Yeah, that’s true.

Samson:

I mean, even if I don’t pick the story up, having that context of, “Okay, people are pitching this. This is going to other tech outlets. I should keep an eye on it.” Because usually too I mean I think a lot of pitches in general really are just are sent to different outlets, but they’re sort of very much the same story. So it’s helpful to know sort of what’s being covered where.

How He Writes Stories

Beck:

Well, let’s talk about making an actual story. So when you are going to do something on Fortnite, now that’s kind of bubbling up into the general cultural vernacular right now, so it’s huge. But you did this one piece, for example, on PBS doing their NOVA podcast launch. You’ve done some particular stuff on Apple and what it means with Epic Games or whatever else, what is… Or let’s even take this one, you were talking about what’s the next maker of Candy Crush, which is a huge dominant game as many people know. What makes you do a story? Does it ever come from a pitch?

Samson:

Yeah. I mean, I think it’s about… For me, I try to keep it I would say maybe 60/40 and the 60% there is original reporting or stuff that I’m digging into myself that I find and I say, “Hey, this is interesting. Let’s go at it,” and then 40% is pitches. And I just think that personally, I prefer to work that way because it tends to avoid getting into that tech reporter trap where you’re regurgitating a press release that looks a lot like the next outlet’s coverage.

Beck:

Mm-hmm (affirmative). That’s a high percentage though that comes from pitches. So let’s say for the 60% though, let’s say for the 60% that you are like, “Okay, I’m coming up with it.” Where are you getting the inspiration for those?

Samson:

See, now I’m rethinking the 60/40 thing because what I was really trying to convey-

Beck:

Oh.

Samson:

No, I was really just trying to convey the fact that the majority of the stories I try to do are based on original reporting. When it comes to digging something up, I mean, there’s a variety of different ways you can do that. I mean, it can be anything from somebody that is a source just coming out of the blue and saying, “Hey, this thing is going on. I think you should know about it,” to…

Samson:

I find actually what happens the most when you’re digging out original reporting type stories is persistence is really key, even if it makes you seem very annoying. Consistently following up with people, consistently getting in touch with… I mean, for me, since I worked very heavily on the side of business journalism, getting in touch with companies that maybe I’ll look at my calendar and say, “Hey, it’s been a month since I’ve talked to these people. What are they doing?” Sniffing around to figure out what’s, I guess, on the horizon is helpful.

Samson:

There’s also plenty of times too where some other outlet will do a story, like I don’t know, for example maybe The Wall Street Journal has a great story on whatever’s going on with Apple right now, and we read the story and an editor flags it and then we come up with, “Okay, so what’s our angle here? How can we kind of… What are the sources that we know that are knowledgeable about this that can kind of spin this in a fresh light?” It was based on another outlet’s original reporting, but it still is ours in the sense that we’re bringing something else to that kind of evolving story, if that makes sense.

His Thoughts on the Future of Journalism

Beck:

Yes. Well, tell us how you feel the future of journalism is going to be like?

Samson:

That’s a loaded question these days.

Beck:

It is a loaded question. And now you’re a more recent grad. This isn’t like you’ve been doing this for 25 years, so tell us what you think? Would you do it again? You graduated in 2018.

Samson:

Yeah. I mean, I should clarify too just the nature of where I went to school, I was working professionally before I graduated. So I have a little over five years of experience in the industry, but I am still by the standard of things pretty new here, and so I think that really does color how I look at things.

Samson:

I tend to try to not make sweeping generalizations about where I think the internet or journalism is going to go because I don’t think anybody really knows, but I mean, it could turn out that in two years we end up getting all of our news from TikTok. Literally that could very well be a possibility.

Samson:

There’s a lot of different platforms right now that are experiencing a huge bump in engagement because of COVID, and anytime there’s an influx of new people onto a platform, there’s obviously naturally going to be a huge uptick in discourse on that platform and people are going to be talking about the world. And so you’re finding that there is a huge political section of TikTok. There’s a huge civil rights section of Snapchat.

Samson:

It’s very interesting to see how younger generations are consuming their news and where they’re expecting to get it. And I’m not trying to say by the way that I think that everyone should get their news from Snapchat or Twitter. I still am very much a proponent of subscribing to your local papers, subscribing to larger regional papers or national publications, like subscribe, subscribe, subscribe, because they need your money very much so right now in order to do their work. But at the same time, there’s a lot of other emerging outlets that have really interesting approaches to this.

Samson:

And there’s a lot of journalism that is happening now that tends to be a little bit more in the vein of sort of almost social justice reporting. Thinking of the fact that the 19th recently launched to focus on women’s and gender equity coverage. Katelyn Burns at Vox is doing a fantastic amount of work on what the election is going to be meaning for queer people.

Samson:

So I think what we’re seeing is sort of a shift in the types of stories that it’s kind of accepted for a journalist to tell, if that makes sense. I feel like when I started studying this, and by the way, you don’t have to study journalism to be a journalist obviously, but I was privileged enough to, and I feel like one of the earliest lessons was it was always about objectivity, which is a noble goal, but it’s kind of impossible in the current climate. And there’s been a lot more reporting that I’ve seen from journalists that are sort of embracing whatever their minority status happens to be and using that as a strength to tell the story about a larger social issue. And that, to me, I think we’re going to be seeing a lot more of. I know TheWrap has done a couple of things like that as well. And it seems like that is becoming…

Samson:

One thing I do think I know for sure is that type of storytelling is becoming a little bit more accessible and I think acceptable. I’m seeing more people on social media empathizing with the journalist’s point of views rather than saying, “Oh, they’re putting yourselves in the story.” Because there’s a way to do it without editorializing. And I think a lot of outlets are realizing now that that’s what people want to read as well. We want sort of more personal takes on things because we all feel really lost. We don’t know what’s going on, simply put.

______

Like Samson discussed, we are in an interesting time as different media channels emerge, gain popularity, and change the communication landscape. To learn more about the 3 fundamental types of media, check out our article Earned Media vs. Owned Media vs. Paid Media where we breakdown each media’s benefits and why they are key in any media relations strategy. Lastly, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and follow us on Twitter to stay updated on the latest podcast episodes and blog releases!

Mathew Cruz

Mathew started at OnePitch in January of 2020 as a Marketing Apprentice. At OnePitch, he handles content creation from social media to the OnePitch blog. Mathew studied Integrated Marketing Communications at San Diego State University. In his free time, he loves creating art, visiting museums, and traveling.

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