Zuckerberg interview: What went wrong

I want to get video of the uncomfortable keynote with Mark Zuckerberg and Business Week’s Sarah Lacy at SXSW today so I can use it as an object lesson in my journalism classes about how not do conduct an interview. My lecture:

Lacy’s biggest mistake was not knowing her audience. Here she had the founder of one of the most innovative, game-changing, and so-far-successful companies of the age — the age that is being created and celebrated by the audience here. But she could not, in the words of one frustrated audience member, ask anything interesting — not to them. Zuckerberg is a man of few words who doesn’t speak often and so there was a great opportunity to find out what this audience wanted to know.

How could Lacy have known that? By asking the audience. If I were up there, I’d have blogged a week before asking SXSWers what I should discuss with Zuckerberg. And if things still went sour with my own questions, I’d have opened up the discussion to the floor with the simple question: What do you want to know?

Next was the way she treated Zuckerberg. I have no doubt that she likes and respects him and that she was trying to put him at ease because he has been shy and nervous in such settings. But she condescended to him, talking about his age too much and about his flop-sweat when she first met him. In a magazine story for people who don’t know this man and what he has done, that might come off as quaint (it’s a magazine kind of observation — a way to show off, frankly). But, again, Lacy didn’t know her audience and by diminishing Zuckerberg it only seemed to insult him and this crowd. The equivalent would be interviewing Bill Gates at an industry conference and calling him weird who fidgets too much and has bad hair, like everyone in the room.

Worse, in her effort to charm Zuckerberg, Lacy came off like Mrs. Robinson. That was embarrassing for her and us.

She pulled some basic mistakes in interviewing. She interrupted him. The first minute of the conversation, he wanted to talk about people using Facebook to organize against Colombian guerrillas — a fascinating story — and she didn’t let him finish, trying to show that she already knew this. The real mistake was that she wasn’t listening.

Another good indication that she didn’t understand that her role was to let him have his say was when she announced that Facebook was opening in French tonight. That’s what he was going to say.

She rambled on to the point that Zuckerberg had to suggest that she ask a question. Definitely not a good sign in an interview.

She was inserting herself too much into the hour. The audience didn’t care a bit about her — or the book she plugged a few times (said a tweet: ‘Can we short her book?’). They were here for him.

When she tried to get tough with Zuckerberg, it came off as clumsy: “Come on, it’s not worth $15 billion.” And this once again shows that she wasn’t aware of the audience. They didn’t care about a business story. They wanted stories about technology and society. When the audience finally got to ask the questions and got tough on Zuckerberg themselves, they pressed him on why he doesn’t have a decent search on Facebook messaging — to which he agreed and vowed to fix it. In this crowd, that’s news.

When it became obvious that the audience was hostile to her — cheering Zuckergerg when he told her to ask a question — she acted hurt, as if this hour was about her. Worse, she told us how tough her job was. It wasn’t tough. It was a privilege and she was blowing it. And at the end, when she said that people should send her an email telling her what went wrong, she was so 1994; she didn’t understand that the people in the crowd were already coalescing in Twitter and blogs into an instant consensus. Oh, if only there’d been a back-channel chat projected on the screen beside her. Then, she could have seen.

After it was over, Lacy did go to Twitter and left this message: “in my book, getting mark to publicly admit to the yahoo deal, address beacon, and give news on changes in the platform and france equals successful interview”

Still, she wasn’t listening. Now, instead of asking Zuckerberg questions, she should again have been asking the audience. Instead she was telling them, NYTimes-like, what the story really was, not the one they saw.

At the end of it all, I have no doubt that Lacy is an experienced and talented journalist, that she respects Zuckerberg, that she was trying to put him at ease, and that she was going after the stories she found interesting. But that’s the essence of her problem: She didn’t stand back and remind herself that her job was to enable a conversation not with her but with the crowd about what they found interesting. And when she failed at that, the audience could tell her, in Twitter, blog posts, hoots from the audience, and even cartoons:

: Here‘s Rex Hammock on the train wreck. News.com’s narrative. Here’s one clip of the fateful talk.

  • d

    Here’s the video in case you’re still interested http://www.austin360.com/news/mplayer/sxsw/73367

  • d

    It’s not the entire video. My mistake. I can’t seem to find it, not yet anyway.

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  • http://www.pressthink.org Jay Rosen

    Great analysis, Jeff.

    This says it all: “In my book, getting mark to publicly admit to the yahoo deal, address beacon, and give news on changes in the platform and france equals successful interview.”

    You don’t know what you saw, she’s saying.

    That the world has changed enough to change the dynamics of an interview does not seem to have occurred to her. Or her “book.”

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  • http://www.markevanstech.com Mark Evans


    As Jay says above, excellent analysis. Given journalists are essentially supposed to ask questions and then get out of the way, I’m puzzled why Lacy completely dropped the ball, and ignored or blew off what the audience wanted. Perhaps the best advice I ever heard about interviewing people was the late – and great – CBC journalist Peter Gzowski who described the interview process as a river. Rather than attempting to direct the river to where you want it to go, a good interviewer gently guides it to where it needs to go. Ms. Lacy would be wise to embrace this approach the next time she gets the opportunity to interview someone at a public forum such as SXSW.

  • http://www.frankconradmartin.typepad.com Frank Martin

    Obviously the skills that help one do well in print journalism do not necessarily extend to “live” or visual media.

    So who thought they would?

  • http://thecorner.typepad.com/bc/ bob c

    Really great analysis, Jeff.

    I was struck by how engaged the audience was, almost from the get go. At the risk of being too “meta”, I wonder if it’s a manifestation of the communal tie that so many folks have with Fb. People expect conversation (not adulation or condensation), people expect a sense of authenticity, people have a gag reflex to the commercial flogging of a book.

    This reminded me of the many digital initiatives I have seen in legacy media companies. I grew up in book publishing, an industry run by people whose definition of a young person is someone with a functioning prostrate. Faced with the inevitability of technology, they grab a perky young person and then toss them into a context that this young person is ill-prepared to handle. It smacks of what a friend calls “reading other people’s mail” – appropriating methods & messages that don’t fit well with the rest of the eco-system.

    I have really enjoyed Sarah Lacy’s writing, so her work in this arena was a let-down. I suspect she learned a lot, particularly about the strands of sexism that still exist just below the surface. If/when she has the chance to be in front of the camera in a context like this again, I imagine she’ll be much different from yesterday’s debacle.

    That said, I wonder if the audience will. Or the legacy media business.

    P.S. – any thots on the NYT piece on Hillary’s “mgmt skills” – Sniping by Aides Hurt Clinton’s Image as Manager

  • http://twitter.com/sconsult G. Saunders

    Sarah Lacy responds: http://tinyurl.com/3dkqru [YouTube Video Interview]

  • http://www.pressthink.org Jay Rosen

    If/when she has the chance to be in front of the camera in a context like this again, I imagine she’ll be much different from yesterday’s debacle.

    Well the learning curve is flat so far. Why couldn’t she have Twittered, “I’m going to look at the video, read my email, absorb what the blogs have to say about the interview and figure out what went wrong. More later…”? It’s 116 characters and a world away from, ““In my book, getting mark to publicly admit to the yahoo deal, address beacon, and give news on changes in the platform and france equals successful interview.” (132)

  • http://blog.stealthmode.com francine hardaway

    I was so disgusted yesterday that I left, apparently before the worse part: the last ten minutes. But I had a hard time with her because, as you pointed out, of the Mrs Robinson thing. It made me vomit, as a woman with a long journalistic background. You nailed it. Her interview afterwards with the Austin Statesman American is even worse.

    Hillary is not a manager. She is a battering ram. They are never good managers. Scary that 69% of Dems think she COULD share a ticket with Obama.

  • http://www.conversationalmediamarketing.com Paul Chaney

    While I wasn’t at SXSW to see the fiasco for myself, I did hear from several friends on Twitter just how bad it was. Sounds to me like SXSW needs to share some blame in using this lady in the first place.

  • http://www.jaybryant.com Jay Bryant

    Her body language in the clip says it all….

  • http://www.pressthink.org Jay Rosen

    What Sarah says on the YouTube clip: Hostility comes with the territory. It’s a shame a small group of people in the back had to ruin it for everyone. Mark was on my side; he didn’t think the protests were appropriate, either. We went over what to talk about beforehand. I always get blog criticism like this; after all, I’m “old media.” It was a successful interview. Hey, it’s not as easy as it looks. “It’s fine.”

  • http://www.pressthink.org Jay Rosen

    Oh, and no one that big will ever come to SXSW again.

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  • Q

    Couple things.

    1. Her interview style actually encapsulates quite well the way MSM actually has treated their customers for decades.

    2. Her smarmy tone implies that she thinks she is smarter than he is, and perhaps undeserving of his success – yet, she is also envious of his enormous wealth.

    3. She finally resorts to “charming tactics” (perhaps she has been using them to cover for a lack of skill), which are easily edited out in print interviews. Unfortunately, no editing a live interview. When those fail, she falls back on her victim complex (can you imagine Charlie Rose telling us how tough his job is?).

    4. Who the hell is Sarah Lacy, and how did she get this interview?

  • http://www.mostlymedia.wordpress.com SpaceyG

    The greatest shame in all this silly ugliness is that the audience, and that means us “watching” (Twittering mostly) here at home too, has become is so intensely frustrated with the state of most MSM that they’re reduced to taking out their frustration on some lowly MSM reporter. There’s plenty of higher-up media Bastille left to storm.

    I know as I too got so fed-up at the recent Journalism + Computation Symposium at Georgia Tech in Atlanta when a Georgia Public TV reporter took the mic and stated that all bloggers needed to be regulated.

    I honestly couldn’t help myself when I then blurted-out in response, “She’s (the GPB reporter) full of shit.”

    I’m just glad it was only the head of the Journalism School at UGA who was sitting in front of me who turned to see who was behaving so rudely… and not my mother.

  • http://www.ConnectivHealth.com Steve NeSmith

    FROM JEFF: At the end of it all, I have no doubt that Lacy is an experienced and talented journalist,

    Jeff, I agree with everything in your analysis except the portion I excerpted above. No matter how many stories she’s covered or people she’s interviewed Lacy demonstrated yesterday that she is NOT an experienced and talented journalist. She was given the a dream opportunity and she didn’t just blow it, she destroyed it. It’s event like the Zuckerberg interview where a journalist is truly tested, because it is very public. I understand that you were simply trying to end on a positive note and I appreciate that but Lacy is NOT ready for primetime.

  • http://www.mostlymedia.wordpress.com SpaceyG

    And for those who think that sexist crap doesn’t still happen, it does. Unconsciously mostly, but ALL THE TIME in social media.

    I witnessed Jay Rosen’s citizen journalism pal, Leonard Witt, again at the Computation + Journalism Symposium recently at GA Tech, introduce one of the very few women panelists at that particular conference, Ms. Culver from Pownce, by talking throughout the entire introduction time he was allotted ONLY about Twitter… fer chrissake, and barely once mentioning Ms. Culver’s own product or work! And the sad part… he never even realized what he was NOT talking about.

    Shame again.

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  • http://kosso.co.uk Kosso


    Here is some of it, which appears to have been taped (poorly) off one of the screens.


    The fact that she mentioned her book at the beginning made me cringe.

  • http://sepidehsaremi.com Sepideh

    I wasn’t there in person but watched the video online. I didn’t find it very Mrs. Robinson-y. It felt overly familiar, but not necessarily in a flirty way. I think Lacy made mistakes and came off as condescending, but Zuckerberg seems like a horrible interview and the crowd was rude. More than the weird tone of the whole thing, I was really distracted by how Z addressed the crowd instead of speaking directly to Lacy.

    It was a boring interview, but I’m still not convinced it warrants as much criticism as it has received. I’d be interested to read what someone like Kara Swisher has to say about this, because a lot of the analysis (not yours) smacks of sexism.

  • Radio Interviewer

    Those who can, do …

    The people who really fucked up here were SXSW. If SXSW wanted a geeks only interview, they should have hired someone who does those types of interviews. Otherwise, they should have made a note in the program to inform attendees what to expect. Has there been a press release yet, apologizing to Lacy for their – yes, *their* – fumble?

    Ms. Lacy was conducting a live interview in front of an audience, an interview of a person with better programming and coding than social skills. Even without a live audience right in front of you, that’s a trying situation.

    Next year, when the professionals decline, perhaps one of the keyboard commandos can fill in.

  • http://kosso.co.uk Kosso

    After she asked if someone could send her a message later on why she ‘sucked so bad’, I’m sure I could hear the person at the mic say something like ‘it’s because you’re wearing a dress’

    I could be mistaken though.

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  • http://www.BillKosloskyMD.com/ Bill K.

    Jeff, there are plenty of bad conference interviews or panel discussions where they don’t consider the audience. That’s why there’s such a need for “un-conferences,” ie, the people on the stage must follow the lead of the audience.

    You can see Sarah talking to Dvorak about her “insane amount of access” to Mark for a BusinessWeek article which eventually led to her book on this episode of Cranky Geeks:

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  • Rick Ellis

    While I agree with a lot of your points, it seems a stretch to translate this horrible interview into another “wow is the msm out of touch” post.

    She did a terrible job of preparation and deciding what was really important. Her failing wasn’t opening up the interview process to the audience ahead of time, or anything else new media related. That wouldn’t have helped her, since she obviously just wasn’t capable of seeing what she needed to do.

    And part of her failing was also due to ego, a failing which is just as likely to be found online as offline.

  • Dr P Miller

    “She pulled some basic mistakes in interviewing. She interrupted him. ”

    How horrible! So Lacy didn’t show enough deference to the Boy God, Mark? She didn’t assume the supine posture expected of American journalists? How awful, Jeff – simply awful!

    “She didn’t stand back and remind herself that her job was to enable a conversation not with her but with the crowd about what they found interesting.”

    Without excusing the dreadful Ms Lacy, how can you condone bullying in real-time, Jeff?

  • http://techleaders20.blogspot.com Alex Hammer

    Very thoughtful overall analysis.

  • http://www.BillKosloskyMD.com/ Bill K.

    I was watching Scoble’s QIK coverage of a future of consumer electronics panel, and he said that the zuck would be doing another session just to answer questions.

  • http://www.BillKosloskyMD.com/ Bill K.

    Scoble via Twitter: “Mark Zuckerberg wants a redo. He’ll be doing an open Q&A today at 4:30 at Pangaea.”

    Maybe he should be given an undo as well.

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  • http://www.timbru.com/ Gabriel Radic

    Wow, I never thought of this when I’ve read the stories about the interview, but watching bits from the video it’s kind of obvious: there’s a lot of sexual tension between the two. Not sure who’s hot for whom, but it’s there.

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  • http://jensenrf.wordpress.com Rob Jensen

    thank you for the overview and reflection of the event. I am just now starting to read up on this and not being able to go to sxsw I really didn’t understand what the twitter buzz was about it. great advice and observations.

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  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    “Dr” P: Not when he’s in the middle of saying something you want to hear. That’s the most basic interviewing technique. The most basic.

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  • Jenny

    It sounds like she flopped, but who knows–she could have drank a huge cup of coffee beforehand, and that coupled with nerves, plus a feeling of familiarity with Zuckerburg that made her sort of detach from the audience, could have been her downfall. Being up on stage can be a freaky experience and make you do/say things you wouldn’t normally do. (But yes, they should have gotten someone more experienced for this huge opportunity!)

    I’ve seen terrible interviews given by men, with the “let me talk about my knowledge of what you do instead of hearing from you…” I really liked the river analogy someone gave earlier. Interviews are all about letting the other person talk and really listening to pick up on cues of where to take it next. This girl needs a PR coach and fast!

  • Liz

    “At the end of it all, I have no doubt that Lacy is an experienced and talented journalist…”

    I’m confused. Based on what you just wrote, I don’t see this take-away. It sounds, in fact, as though she’s a pretty poor journalist and more to the point, that she should be much better considering her background. Why the platitude? To soften what is a pretty honest and stark critique of a widely criticized performance?

  • Steve

    Jeff, you don’t get it.

    The audience was full of Web 2.0 fanboys and fangirls. You’re criticizing Sarah because she didn’t please the fanboys and fangirls.

    But Lacy failed, not because she interrupted, but because she can’t write about Facebook from a social, economic or moral standpoint.

    You’re a good evangelist, you use every media opportunity you have to blow the Web 2.0 cause. But you can’t be an evangelist and an honest journalist too.

    Watch Zachary and Markoff here, you might get what I think the Doctor is talking about.


    I don’t want the “journalism” you want, because it isn’t journalism – it’s suck-up PR.

    Is this so hard to understand?

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  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    That you don’t have the balls to use your name tells me everything I need to know about you and your opinions. I devalue both. I stand by mine. You’re chickenshit and lob your little water balloons. Is that so hard to understand? You want to talk about integrity. Have a little.

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  • http://www.sparkmediasolutions.com/ David Spark

    This is not the first time we’ve seen an interview, panel session, or presentation go south. But this was so darn high profile. In fact, more times than not, people are not prepared or self indulgent.

    I actually got so frustrated going to so many bad panel sessions that I wrote an article entitled “More Schmooze, Less Snooze: How to Deliver ‘The Most Talked About’ Conference Session.” It’s got advice for moderators, panelists, and even attendees. Give it a read and let me know what you think.

    Online: http://sparkmediasolutions.com/conference.html
    PDF: http://tinyurl.com/2nkfn4


  • http://dishymix.com Susan Bratton

    This interview really stuck in my craw too. I ended up with four posts about it. The first was my perspective on the keynote. We draw similar conclusions. Then I thought I’d better be helpful and tell Sarah how to fix her reputation and do a better job interviewing in the future IF anyone ever asks her again (doubtful).

    Finally, I posted a bit on my take between SXSW and TED and used your SXSW session as the best of show. Your Sucxorz Viral Marketing panel with Henry was terrific.

    Here are my posts,

    The Sarah Lacy Fiasco – The Bratton Perspective.

    Sarah Lacy – Here’s How to FIX Your Reputation

    How to Conduct A Live On-Stage Interview

    SXSW vs. TED – The Value of Preparation and Maturity

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  • http://www.sparkminute.com/ David Spark

    OK, this whole debacle got me to thinking about my former stand-up comedy days. And it inspired me to write something about how to deal with unruly crowds. So for those of you who might be faced with a similar situation in the future, I wrote the following post:

    How to deal with rough crowds: A stand-up comic’s advice for Sarah Lacy

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  • http://secondthoughts.typepad.com Prokofy Neva

    Excuse me, but…the backchatters did not have any interesting questions EITHER. If they did, they could have *asked them* instead of heckling! When you read the Twitter logs, you don’t see anything intelligent. If these geeks need a fanboyz game-god conference, they got one, but they can’t expect a professional journalist to behave like a GM, which is all the want.

    Zuckerberg was insolent and defensive and his non-answers are very troublesome. The entire enterprise cries out for a serious journalistic probe. Lacy did her best, given that she was facing a lynch mob and a completely uncooperative subject who was openly mocking her.

    At this point, Zuckerberg has said the same thing so many times, so fakely, in so many interviews, that it’s absolutely right for a serious journalist to interrupt him and get him off his canned spiel. The idea that he can look jerky and try to make it seem as if she’s asked a “trolling question” by asking him if he is really worth the billions is just plain nonsense. Of course a good reporter has to ask him this and see what he says. If he was the savvy businessman he’s supposed to be, he would have said, “Yes, I’m worth that, and here’s why.” Instead, he snickered.

    And given that you’re a journalism professor, I’m surprised you aren’t asking the largest question here about the entire set-up, where all the parties to this staged event betray the public trust:

    SWSX *paid* — hired! — this Business Week journalist to perform this interview — perform, as a kind of multi-media event during a games conference. Paid! Aren’t you troubled by what the means, what it says about the cynicism of the gaming and social media industries, that they think they can just buy old-media journos and wheel them out for entertainment? And if they need a Christian to throw to the lions, they can do that, too? Did those hecklers get XP and gather up some game loot after it was over?

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  • http://www.pressthink.org Jay Rosen

    SXSW is a gamers conference? I thought it was a music, film and interactive media conference.

    Fascinating argument that the way to deal with an insolent and uncooperative interviewee is to get tough with him. Does that usually work? On 60 Minutes maybe; but that’s an artifact of editing.

    On the tape, the crowd has no opportunity to ask questions until hecklers interrupt and demand it, and that’s when Sarah relents and tells the crowd it’s become a Digg-style mob, but, okay, go ahead with your questions….

    Susan Mernit: “In this day and age of real time interactivity, unconferences and bar camps, everyone in the audience wants to be the interviewer–and, in a way, they should be. One could argue that Sarah Lacy’s mistake was in not realizing she was just the vessel to channel the crowd–that she didn’t engage enough in participatory media–and that failure made her irrelevant to the audience, who then leapt on her cruelly as she became non-relevant to their agenda.”

  • Sara Summers

    Thank you for articulating this in a way only a fellow journalist could. I knew it was all wrong…the crowd was feeling betrayed. Maybe someone could send Lacy the “Wisdom of Crowds’. And while we are at it, to your class. Why stop there? She may want to head back to school for many more hours of study.
    Oh, one last thing, that repulsive, narcissistic ego should go, far far away.

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  • Steve

    “You’re chickenshit and lob your little water balloons. Is that so hard to understand? You want to talk about integrity. Have a little.”

    Wow. Instead of insulting your readers, why not address the points they raise?

    Here’s that link to Markoff and Zachary again –


    Technology needs to be written about intelligently and critically. Handing the mic to the audience doesn’t cut it. A Twitter feed doesn’t cut it. Can you put your evangelism to one side for a moment, and address this point?

    Try again, Jeff. The people formerly known as the audience would love your input on this conversation!

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  • http://www.buzzmachine.com Jeff Jarvis

    You insulted me, remember. What rules say you can act like a lout and I shouldn’t? Apologize for your insinuations and I may have the conversation with you. But nobody says I have to talk to the people who spit in my face. I do hit my limits and you hit it, mate.

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  • http://www.derekscruggs.com Derek Scruggs

    Any allegations of sexism are just laughable. One of the most popular speakers year after year is Kathy Sierra. No one cares about her gender, just her amazing content. That’s why her blog was so popular too.

    They do these kinds of interviews every year — last year they had Dan Rather, two years ago they had Craig Newmark. Sometimes they’re good, sometimes they’re so-so. This one was easily the suckiest one I’ve ever seen.

    The problem was not the audience or the interview subject (though sometimes it is – Dan Rather was pretty boring). The problem was the person asking the questions. It was obvious to any one who was there.

    @Dr. P Miller – she didn’t just interrupt him, she hijacked the conversation and often answer on his behalf. I bet the ratio of words between them was 50/50. A good interviewer should shoot for 90/10 or 80/20. She wasn’t just off her game, she was in the wrong ballpark.

  • http://mediaflect.com Dorian

    I like Jeff’s idea of (chat(or twitter or ICQ or other conversational) screens, to make a more three-dimensional discussion. I’ve seen this a few times, but not often enough. I’d also like to see more attempts at leveling the room … not sure if having the speaker in the center of the room, or what … This kind of forum still a linear one-on-one, but I’d love folks to brainstorm how to make an “interview” with a Zuckerberg at a conf like this become more of a conversation, an interaction, without it becoming a worthless free-for-all.

    I’m wondering aloud here if the whole “speaker on stage being interviewed” set up is very different than it can and should be. Perhaps there’s a way to have Twitters “DIGG”ed so the most-tagged questions or comments could float to the top, showing a consensus (at least among those using the technology) and have to be answered.

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  • http://goinglikesixty.com mark van patten

    “If I were up there, I’d have blogged a week before asking SXSWers what I should discuss with Zuckerberg. And if things still went sour with my own questions, I’d have opened up the discussion to the floor with the simple question: What do you want to know?”

    Easy for you to say now.

    I don’t know how you know the audience in a situation like this. It’s so diverse, and certainly more outspoken than any other audience. This is why the “conference” setting is so useless, and the BarCamp approach isn’t.

    Not listening is just so bad, and fairly typical. Some people just want to be with the cool kids that they try too hard. Intimidation does strange things to people.

    Since you’re a journalism teacher, why is this even important to you? Will your journalism students be doing an interview with billionaire in front of techies? No.

    Cuban wrote about how bad newspaper bloggers are for the business. Hopefully you’ll address something your students can benefit from.

  • http://markvanpatten.com mark van patten

    Correction on my URL: the one above is personal, this one is my business blog. My bad.

  • Steve

    Calling for intelligent technology criticism obviously touches a nerve with Mr Jarvis.

    Can you tell me which part of my post feels like a spit in the face for you? And which part is over the line?

    The audience was full of Web 2.0 fanboys and fangirls. You’re criticizing Sarah because she didn’t please the fanboys and fangirls. But Lacy failed, not because she interrupted, but because she can’t write about Facebook from a social, economic or moral standpoint.

    You’re a good evangelist, you use every media opportunity you have to blow the Web 2.0 cause. But you can’t be an evangelist and an honest journalist too. Watch Zachary and Markoff here, you might get what I think the Doctor is talking about.


    I don’t want the “journalism” you want, because it isn’t journalism – it’s suck-up PR.

    Is this so hard to understand?

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  • http://www.jenniferjones.com jennifer jones

    Jeff, I was not at the interview but having watched it on video I have to agree 100% with your thoughts. She did not listen and the interview she felt involved her presence and she was just there as a key journalist who should have prepped more. I am surprised that she flopped so badly and would have thought Business Week would have ensured she prepped enormously given this great opportunity for her to shine.

  • Jack F.

    Ouch… I could barely watch enough of the video to understand how well you nailed this analysis of it. Tragic (in the Greek sense) for Lacy. Even if she’s a good reporter, she still shoulders the responsibility for flubbing it here. As you’ve pointed out.

    The interviewee wasn’t easy, but she should have known that from the pre-interview meetings she alluded to. And yes, her bizarre flirtatious angle on this was a big part of the problem too. For parts of the interview, she was looking at him aside, twirling her hair, even looking at the floor and talking barely audibly as she swallowed whatever she was saying. Which was always too much to be saying since, no, she was not supposed to be the focus of all this.

    But here, I think, is the one real mistake you didn’t directly name — she failed to become fascinated by the subject herself. If there’s one attribute across all great writers and interviewers that stands out, it’s that they are insatiably curious about almost any topic that can be opened up and explored. In short, the writer cares much, about everything. And that passion plus the skill they develop for asking the right questions is what makes them great.

    Throughout this whole thing, she didn’t seem to care much at all… about anything but herself and the “hip” impression she hoped to make. In the end (here comes Greek tragedy again) that was the very thing that denied her what she’d hoped for.

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  • http://mybackchannel.blogspot.com Linda Ziskind

    I was at the interview and it was indeed excruciating to watch. People in my section of the audience kept looking at each other in confusion, as if they expected Ashton Kutcher to jump onstage an announce that we’d all been Punk’d. However, in the end, Sarah may have done us a huge favor. The tsunami of Twitter that her debacle caused was a seminal moment in understanding the impact of this technology on how we communicated. Maybe someday, we’ll look back and call this the Lacy Effect.

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