Charlie White – Senior Editor, Mashable
By Amy McElhaney
Charlie White has a few notable achievements under his belt: He has won an Emmy, piloted an airplane, spotted a UFO (twice), played saxophone in a marching band for President Nixon and driven a Corvette through the desert at 100 mph.
So what does it take to lure this internationally acclaimed author, television producer, recording artist, journalist and blogger from his position as technology editor at NBC Universal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies? It’s called Mashable, one of the most popular and frequented social and digital media sites offering today’s entrepreneurs, social media influencers, technology journalists and gurus up-to-date news and analysis on Web culture.
“It’s a huge megaphone to showcase my favorite tech, gadgets and social media innovations. It’s a dream job,” White said.
While he recognizes the great progress he was building at NBC working on the consumer electronics site Tech Goes Strong, White could not ignore the fact that Mashable “is one of the hottest sites on the Web.” Therefore, in December 2010 White accepted the position of senior editor there, and before long the Milwaukee-based journalist found himself handling the site’s consumer electronics reviews and weekend coverage. His goal is to shape the weekend coverage and create a one-stop shop for readers.
“I’m in the middle of making weekend coverage more entertainment-oriented, focusing on devices and technologies that people would use to enhance their enjoyment of their leisure time,” he said. “So far, I’ve made progress toward making Mashable even more of a fun weekend destination for our readers, and added an extra dimension to the weekday coverage at the same time.”
White also cleverly offers his own spin on each of his posts, constantly searching for the “wow factor” that will open readers’ eyes to things they might not have considered. After all, he isn’t your typical technology blogger. He credits the famed jazz saxophonist John Coltrane, literary author Malcolm Gladwell and the awe-inspiring Abraham Lincoln amongst his many influencers. As a child he devoured the pages of Consumer Reports, dreaming of one day writing his own product reviews.
It’s no surprise that the same guy who has climbed mountains, played in bluegrass, jazz, salsa, big band and rock bands and designed a house aims to not only provide readers with product reviews, but to entertain and offer an outlet where readers can leisurely learn about what’s new in the tech world.
“I want to show them stuff they’ve never seen before,” White chimed. “My goal is to build up Mashable to a point where it’s also considered the top source for technology and consumer electronics news and reviews.”
White started his career in television, producing for PBS and NBC where he developed a knack for directing and editing videos. Soon enough he was reviewing video technology for various magazines and sites which eventually led to a three-year stint with Gizmodo. He wrote more than 4,400 blog posts for the site in two years; no small feat for someone who still found time to make regular editorial contributions to publications such as Wired, Popular Science, Maximum PC and the now-defunct I.D. Magazine.
Having worked in the digital media space for more than 16 years, White has had the unique experience of having witnessed first-hand the media shift from print to online.
He explained, “I think of online media as a delivery method, and journalism happens in both print and online. It’s like the Wild West out here. The market niches of magazines have exploded into niches of niches on the Internet. Even people who are experts at only one topic can succeed here. It’s a great expansion, and I think we’ll look back at these days as the golden age of the Internet.”
White’s enthusiasm for digital media is evident throughout the Web and social media world.
“I am a Twitter user,” he said. “I love the way you can just microblog something, broadcasting a thought to hundreds of followers with very little effort. Sometimes a blog post can be effectively whittled down to 140 characters, and that’s why Twitter is such a perfect delivery medium for such kernels of information. I built a specialized feed that shows me some of the best sources on Twitter, and that’s getting to be a more consistent place to find breaking news. It’s so immediate; it’s a newsgatherer’s dream.”
And as a newsgatherer in the new media age, White is the perfect fit for Mashable.
“Journalism revolves around gathering information, and social media lubricates that information so that it’s available quickly and to everyone,” he explained. “It’s up to us, as journalists, to analyze that information and organize it into forms that illuminate. My job is to experience these products and services, and to write about them, injecting my own first-hand experience into the gigantic ocean of information.”
White’s coverage focuses on gadgets, ideas, future products and any consumer-related technology news. He looks for exclusivity in pitches and likes to hear about topics that haven’t been covered elsewhere.
“Tell me why a product or service is different from anything that came before, and why I should care about it,” he explained.
He shies away from products that have already saturated the market, “such as yet another point-and-shoot camera that’s no different from all the thousands that have come before it.”
E-mail is the best way to pitch him and always send along pictures as attachments.
Find White on Twitter @charlie_white.