Casey Newton is The Verge’s new Silicon Valley editor, the technology publication announced Wednesday. He previously covered Silicon Valley as a senior reporter, with editors at Verge HQ in New York overseeing his work. “What I realized was that Casey had been actually in charge for some time,” Verge Editor-in-Chief Nilay Patel said in a phone call with Poynter.
Newton will be charged with taking on “the culture and the companies of Silicon Valley,” Patel said. He doesn’t want The Verge, which he took over three months ago, to approach Valley coverage as a “trade publication” — he named Re/code and TechCrunch as examples of those. “It’s the difference between Variety and Vanity Fair,” he said.
“The decisions that are being made here in Silicon Valley are affecting billions,” Newton told Poynter. “We’re thinking of new ways that we can tell those stories.”
Patel said his publication had 31 million unique visitors in September, and that audience is something Newton plans to leverage when dealing with Silicon Valley’s formidable PR apparatus. (Lucia Moses recently interviewed an anonymous tech reporter who said PR people in that sector “can remember who was always positive” and will mete out interviews accordingly.)
“I think if you look at The Verge’s coverage we’ve never been afraid to take on companies,” Newton said, citing a story from August about how Uber tried to undermine competitors. “That might mean that I don’t get invoted to the Uber company holiday party but that doesn’t matter to us,” Newton said. “Because we serve such a large audience, companies feel like they have to talk to us.”
“We’re not going to do the rote funding story, we’re not going to do the rote investor meeting story,” Patel said when asked how The Verge would differentiate its coverage. The publication has “never been afraid to identify heroes and villains,” Newton said. “I think The Verge winds up being this emotional publication in a ways others are not.” When Tim Cook came out, for instance, Newton wrote a personal post about why it was important to not just “move on” after the news.
Newton’s appointment is immediate, and he said he plans to hire some journalists — no numbers yet — and maybe start a podcast. Patel said his plan for the publication is to “less be a tech blog and more be a chronicler of cultural change.” Rolling Stone, he said, used to use music as a lens to do that, but it “missed hip-hop.” Wired, he said, used personal computing as such a lens, but it “missed the Internet.” The Verge is “using the Internet and mobile and social to explore the incredible amount of change right now.”