Security? News to Me

A look at Dark Reading's philosophy on news, from the guy who's editing it

10:30 AM -- I've been in the IT industry for 22 years now, which proves that I'm old. I've been a journalist for 28 years now, which proves that I'm a masochist. Now I'm the site editor for a brand-new online security publication, which proves that I'm insane. See? You can teach an old masochist new tricks.

After all those years of studying and writing about technology, I often still feel clueless -- and there are plenty of folks who'll tell you I'm right. But one thing I have learned -- thanks to years of stupid mistakes and corrections by editors like our own Terry Sweeney -- is how to identify news. I mean real, I-didn't-know-that news, doggone it. And despite the proliferation of newsletters, blogs, magazines, and streaming video, it's something that's pretty hard to come by in IT, especially in the security space.

Y'see, people in the security space are, well, sort of tight-lipped. I don't mean just, "Oh, I'll tell you later" -- I mean, "I've got my cyanide capsule here! Ask me another question and I'll take it! I'll take it!" These are the people that the CIA wanted, but couldn't afford.

And it's all across the board. Enterprises don't want to talk, because they don't want attackers to know their plans and they don't want the public to know that they might actually have security problems. Attackers don't want you to know what they're doing, at least until they've done it. Law enforcement agencies clam up, because they don't want to give criminals any ideas. Heck, even the vendors don't want to talk -- I had to beat the last guy with a rubber hose just to get pricing and availability dates.

With sources like this, it's no wonder that other IT information sites on the Web cover security with an almost uncanny sameness. Do a Google search on security, and include today's date, and you'll get ten stories that offer a different spin on the same press release. It's sort of like "The Stepford Wives," only without Katherine Ross.

Here in Dark Reading's news organization, we're going to try it a different way. We're going to look for stuff you don't know, stuff you haven't heard, stuff you haven't already thought about. This is the strategy that made Light Reading a big hit in the telecom industry, and we're pretty serious about it. Yeah, we'll still cover the big announcements. But even then, we'll try to help you by cutting through the crap and giving you what you really need -- or at least is fun to read.

So what's news? Well, here, in a nutshell, are the criteria we'll use to judge whether something fits into our news hole. (Note to PR folks: If it doesn't have at least one of these things, think about whether you really want to call us an hour before deadline.)

Importance: When a zero-day worm wipes out 2 million hard drives, it might get our attention. Maybe. Only if it's a really ugly worm with lots of teeth and a hairy back. If it's release 7.5 of a product that has three users, it's not news. There's a nice spot on our site where we post press releases and that sort of thing, and we're happy to do it. But our staff writers won't tackle it unless it matters a lot to a lot of security pros.

Interest: OK, my life wasn't affected when the VP shot his buddy in the face, or when Brad dumped Jennifer for Angelina. But a lot of people did care, and so the news organizations did, too. I hope we'll never overplay trivial issues like Brad and his girlfriends. But if you care about a topic, you should let us know. Your voice matters. If it's important to you, we want to be on it.

Entertainment: I've been reading IT trade pubs -- and now Websites -- for more than two decades, and I still can't figure out when exactly God handed down the 11th Commandment: "Thou shalt make thy trade rags as boring as possible." Who says it can't be fun to read about triple DES or patch management? We've got a bunch of bloggers who say it can. And we'll try to make your news reading less painful -- if not out-and-out fun -- as well.

This is Day 1 for Dark Reading, and we know we've got a long way to go to make the site the way you need it to be. But we're committed to doing something truly different here, and we want your help. If you've got a news tip, an interesting fact, a pet peeve, or just a good joke, let us know -- either on our message boards or via [email protected].

It could be news to us.

— Tim Wilson, Site Editor, Dark Reading

Editors' Choice
Evan Schuman, Contributing Writer, Dark Reading
Tara Seals, Managing Editor, News, Dark Reading
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