What's it like working for a gadget website?
October 11, 2007 7:11 AM   Subscribe

What's it like working for a gadget website?

This is for a work of fiction I am developing.

I'd like to know what it's like to be a writer, admin, tech support person or other role at a major gadget website - one that conducts reviews and research, breaks stories and leaks, and the like. Do these folks work a 9-5? Is there even a single place of business for such a site or is it decentralised to the home offices of the writers? How are gadgets for review solicited and dealt with? Is there any resource that can give me insight into what living this life is like?
posted by By The Grace of God to Computers & Internet (4 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
If you wrote to one of the people at Gizmodo they might be willing to help. Good site, too.
posted by DMan at 7:59 AM on October 11, 2007

Best answer: I was the sole writer for a minor gadget website for a while and can offer a bit of perspective.

No, they do not work 9 to 5. AFAIK, they are paid by the post, constantly getting email with tips, questions, rants, offers from Chinese electronics manufacturers, whatnot. If something is postworthy (and the bar for postworthiness is very low) comes along, you post it immediately. There would be competition to post first both between the other editors on the blog and other blogs (gizmodo vs. engadget). Also, there is probably regular pressure from higher ups to post more and post more about the current sponsors.

No, there probably isn't a single place of business. Engadget/Gizmodo/etc. are just weblogs, so a new post can come from anywhere at anytime.

WRT to getting gadgets and reviews, I dunno.

Also, here's a story about what happened between a major and minor gadget site that might give a glimpse inside:
posted by turbodog at 12:10 PM on October 11, 2007

Best answer: I was an associate editor at Gizmodo last year and turbodog has the experience exactly right, except we were never pressured to write about our sponsors. Gawker Media pays by post, and you have a minimum amount of posts that you're required to do per day; you can take off for the day once you've done them, or write more and make more money. They have an office in SoHo that you're strongly encouraged to come into if you live in New York, but it's not required, as they'll hire talent wherever it lives. Writing a lot of items every day, as fast as you can, is really hard work, surprisingly hard; the turnover rate is much higher than you'd get at a magazine or newspaper.

If you were a full-time writer, you were expected to have stories up by about 8, so there'd be a few stories there already by the time people got into work and checked their morning reads. In practice this means you're up by 7 or 7:30 at the very least to read through the zillions of sites you have to follow and the zillions of emails you got from readers and shills. We were offered gadgets for review by companies and their PR firms, but also sometimes we'd email about stuff that sounded cool to us to ask if we could check it out.

The funny thing about doing that job, for me at least, was that thinking about gadgets almost every waking hour was the nail in the coffin of me being the kind of person who wants and needs to have every latest greatest thing. It's very strange to have to professionally obsess that way, over things that for the most part don't really mean very much in the grand scheme of things, and it put me off being a total gadget freak. I still keep up with Apple launches, big things like that, but I don't follow gadget stuff every day anymore (I do still read about 200 or so sites a day).
posted by lia at 1:16 PM on October 11, 2007

I have written reviews of tech gear for a minor magazine. It is a grind to chase folk for a round up of digital cameras, for example. Lots of trundling stuff back and forth, nagging receptionists and not much fun.
My favourite bits were more feature/opinion based articles.
posted by bystander at 2:33 AM on October 15, 2007

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