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Spotlight Q&A with Joe O’Halloran, Networking Editor, Computer Weekly and Editor-in-Chief, Rapid TV News

As part of our regular Spotlight interview series we recently spoke to Joe O’Halloran, Networking Editor at Computer Weekly and Editor-in-Chief of Rapid TV News.

The relationship between PR and the media and how tech companies should – and should NOT – communicate with journalists came under the spotlight. …as did O’Halloran himself, revealing his lockdown highlights and giving us his hot tech topic tip for 2021.

The below Spotlight was published in our monthly newsletter, which also features industry and client news, moves and newcomers in the media industry and the latest content from the Babel team. Sign up on our homepage.

What makes for a good PR/journalist relationship in your view?

In tech journalism, detailing what technologies are, why they were launched and how they are being deployed are the key focuses. But perhaps the least appreciated aspect of trade journalism is ‘who’. That is knowing precisely who the key person is who covers an area and knowing for whom they are writing.

Errors tech companies make when trying to communicate with the media?

Tech firms by their nature are the domain experts on the tech so that is never the issue; the thing is always getting what is relevant to you.

What made you become a journalist?

Absolute accident. I was in engineering in an oil refinery before I saw an ad in The Guardian in 1988 for a CAD/CAM expert required for a trade title. That was my background. I was going to give it a couple of months to get me settled back in London and then decide what I really wanted to do…

How has journalism changed in the last year?

For me, covering networks and collaboration, it really has been a sense that the time has come for what I’ve always regarded as an essential tool, even if that had not been universally regarded until last March. The one thing that has changed is that with no face-to-face meetings and trade shows, the really essential human interaction with the people who drive innovation has been a little missing. We still have all the facts in front of us but actually seeing in the flesh those making the technologies and understanding why they’ve made them and for whom has diminished things slightly. Zoom calls are not the same.

Hot topic of 2021?

Networks and collaboration of course! Seriously, the latter, as hybrid working becomes the default mode for businesses. In that regard I’d predict a sharp uptake in secure access service edge (SASE) technology to make it all happen securely and effectively.

Highlight of your lockdown (1, 2 or 3!)?

Shared lockdown with my wife and two 20-somethings: I feared that having all four of us in the same house for the first time since 2013 would be ‘challenging’. Was the very opposite. I took on the role of house IT and networks manager and installed no end of extra tech including wireless access points and upped bandwidth. No issues to deal with – no bruises to prove it.  So, in addition to better familial relations, I’d add the ability to do more exercise and read more. And watch far too much football from around the world.

I became my own case study. My home broadband that previously really did the odd bit of streaming video for the iPlayer and Netflix was transformed into four people’s work infrastructure with almost constant use of video collaboration, in particular Zoom and Teams, from nine to five. I had to make this happen! And my respect for service providers shot up.

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