Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Joe Fay takes control of The Register as the UK IT news site seeks to increase US readership

Posted by Tom Foremski - January 25, 2005

by Tom Foremski for SiliconValleyWatcher.com

Joe Fay leaves San Francisco at the end of this month to take up his new position as editor of The Register, the pithy, witty, acerbic, and very popular UK online IT news site. Joe’s former job was US Editor of Computerwire, a more analytical and far somber news service, operated by Datamonitor, the market research firm.

It’s a good move for Joe, even though he, his wife Jo, and infant son Gabriel must move back to London after living here for more than four years.

“I’ll still be around and talking with my contacts on a regular basis, just as before,” Joe told me recently. The new and the old jobs are certainly similar in many ways, and with his direct contacts into Silicon Valley companies, it will improve The Register’s access to the local movers and shakers.

The Register’s motto is “biting the hand that feeds IT,” and it relishes opportunities to write in a pugnacious, tabloid style. This is hugely refreshing to an American audience more familiar with a US trade press that is more serious, much more respectful of the companies they cover, and thus more bland in comparison.

Silicon Valley will take The Register more seriously now that Joe is at the helm of the news site. It is viewed in some quarters as entertaining rather than informative, often favoring the easy cheap shot over analytical depth. An unfair categorization, but one that Joe can help dispel and add to its already sizeable US readership.

The Register is ready for the next phase, and so too are its founders, Drew Cullen and John Lettice, who will be working on expansion projects. The Register's chief investor is reportedly keen to step up the pace of growth. Mike Magee, the other co-founder, split-off several years ago after an acrimonious dispute that has not been easy to forget. Mike publishes The Inquirer, a rival news site with very much the same look and feel -- not copycat but rather demonstrating the strong influence Magee had on The Register's editorial style.

Joe is not revealing any plans for big changes at The Register, if indeed he has them. What I would expect to see is that he would seek to sharpen the editorial team’s analytical teeth. After all, sharper analysis makes for a deeper bite.

Oh, and it wouldn’t surprise me if Joe decides to bring The Register into the new century and ask Andrew Orlowski, his SF bureau chief, to start writing a blog. I bet Andrew is chomping at the bit to get one started . . . and would only need the slightest of nods. And I think Joe should give Andrew his own blog, and encourage his vibrant enthusiasm rather than ignore it.

The Register’s motto aptly sums up a long standing tradition within the British computer trade press of living the life of a VIP at the expense of computer companies they write about. Taking multi-day excursions to other countries while staying at the finest hotels, quaffing the finest liquids -- brewed or distilled -- and developing a finely tuned gastronomic sense usually reserved for those in far higher tax brackets. All paid for by the computer/software/services industry.

Here in the US, reporters at many publications are not allowed to accept what often amounts to several thousand dollars in travel, accommodation and entertainment costs that British and other European journalists.

Links:

The Register can be found here: http://www.theregister.co.uk/

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