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Bill Gannon of Future: “Write tighter — shorter sentences”

Do not confuse angry rhetoric about “the media” or disruption of journalism-supporting revenue models with an erosion of the importance of journalism. Our First Amendment mission remains more vital now then perhaps ever before. As a part of our series about “the 5 steps we can take to win back trust in journalism” I had the […]

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Do not confuse angry rhetoric about “the media” or disruption of journalism-supporting revenue models with an erosion of the importance of journalism. Our First Amendment mission remains more vital now then perhaps ever before.


As a part of our series about “the 5 steps we can take to win back trust in journalism” I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Bill Gannon.

Bill Gannon is currently Vice President & Global Editor-in-Chief of Future PLC, the publisher of more than 150 successful brands in specialist consumer and B2B sectors including: technology, gaming & entertainment, music, creative & photography, and in television and media where Bill’s responsibilities include the Broadcasting & Cable and Multichannel News brands. Prior to joining Future, Bill was previously one of three lead executives who launched First Look Media, served as Editor-in-Chief of Entertainment Weekly Digital at Time Inc, led digital media for Lucasfilm Ltd, and was the Senior Editorial Director of Yahoo Inc where he led all content strategy and operations including the programming of the Home Page. Prior to moving into management, Bill was a print journalist who specialized in conflict reporting, national politics and investigative journalism. He is the recipient of multiple national journalism awards including the John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University. Bill serves on a number of advisory boards including the Consumer Technology Association (CTA) CES Advisory Board.


Thank you so much for joining us. Before we dive in, our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit better. Can you share with us the “backstory” about how you got started in your career?

II began as a print journalist doing local news reporting at a very small newspaper — which led to jobs and a broad range of assignments at larger newspapers including reporting on conflict in the Middle East and Africa and US Presidential campaigns. I transitioned to both digital and executive leadership roles after a John S. Knight Fellowship at Stanford University. Since 2000 I have worked at digital start-ups and large companies like Yahoo, Lucasfilm, and Time inc. before coming to Future plc.

Do you have a favorite book that made a deep impact on your life? Can you share a story?

Here’s six journalism books that I highly recommend.

The AP Stylebook

Mediactive & We the Media — both by Dan Gillmor

Here is Your War by Ernie Pyle

All The President’s Men — by Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward

Here Comes Everybody by Clay Shirky

Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail by Dr. Hunter S Thompson

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

We just launched a new journalism brand focused on the video streaming industry called NextTV.com. It’s a bold bet to launch a new brand to cover an entire industry in such a very nascent state. But we’re already breaking news and publishing a range of explanatory and analysis journalism no one else is publishing.

What advice would you give to your colleagues in the industry, to thrive and not “burnout”?

Be bold — you’ll never regret it. We launched NextTV.com in December, at a time when other media companies are laying off staff. Launching a new brand like Next TV.com in these uncertain times is an act of uncommon corporate courage. I deeply respect the courage of our CEO and our company and my team to take this new journalism mission on.

Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now shift to the main parts of our interview. According to this Gallup poll 45% of Americans trust the mass media. As an insider, are there 5 things that editors and newsrooms can do to increase the levels of trust? Can you give some examples?

1.) Focus on accurate reporting (as opposed to clever writing) with clear attribution of all relevant facts and quotes.

2.) Write tighter — shorter sentences — it is vital you leverage how your journalism exists on a range of print, digital and social platforms.

3.) Follow the SPJ ethical guidelines as forth by the Society of Professional Journalists here: https://www.spj.org/ethicscode.asp

4.) Embrace transparency, create conversation and audience feedback loops — invite your audience to participate in and improve your journalism. Listen.

5.) Do not confuse angry rhetoric about “the media” or disruption of journalism-supporting revenue models with an erosion of the importance of journalism. Our First Amendment mission remains more vital now then perhaps ever before.

As you know, since 2016, the term ‘fake news” has entered common usage. Do you think this new awareness has made a change in the day-to-day process of how journalists craft stories? Can you give some examples?

Your use of the term Fake News in the question is in itself a small victory for those assaulting journalism values and the honorable men and women in small towns and cities alike who report the news. “Fake News” is not a “new awareness” in the slightest — it’s just angry rhetoric — a buzzword tossed at journalists for telling a story someone is eager to discredit.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be?

To embrace the values of the First Amendment and Freedom of the Press and the completely essential role of a free press in modern society.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this,

Elon Musk because of his authenticity, his enormous courage, vision and tenacity. I’d love to have one more lunch with Pierre Omidiar from eBay too — he’s one of the smartest and truly kindest human beings alive. I mostly just want to thank him for letting Andy Carvin and I launch reported.ly.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

https://www.linkedin.com/in/bgannonprofile/
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