Hari Sreenivasan, 31, has been an anchor and correspondent for 'ABC News Now' since February 2004. Before ABC, Sreenivasan was an anchor, senior correspondent and reporter for CNET, a technology media company based in San Francisco. After leaving CNET in 2002, Sreenivasan founded OMpower Media Inc., a company that provides reporting, anchoring and producing services to TV and radio stations. Early in his career, Sreenivasan was a technology reporter for the NBC affiliate in Raleigh, N.C., WNCN-TV. Sreenivasan graduated from the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. He has won numerous broadcast journalism awards from the South Asian Journalists Association. He spoke with JournalismJobs.com via e-mail about the emergence of podcasting.
JournalismJobs.com: First off, the death of Peter Jennings must have been a great shock to everyone at ABC. You've had the chance to work with him several times. Do you have a favorite anecdote?
Hari Sreenivasan: Rather than getting to the inside baseball of conversations he and I had, I'd rather recount a story of the first time I met him. It was probably '97 or so when I was waiting alone in one of ABC's lobbies for a round of job interviews. There he was just walking by. He noticed me as he was opening the door and bothered to introduce himself and asked who I was. I was in awe at this point -- watching one of my childhood broadcast heroes address me directly. It was early in my career and I was star struck. I didn't know what would become of my interviews so I told Mr. Jennings that he was partially responsible for my ability to speak English -- that I used to watch him when I was a young new immigrant and would work on my accent by watching him. He graciously accepted the compliment. We exchanged a few words and he did what he always does and asked where I'm from. When I responded that I'm from Mumbai and that I'm here for a job interview, he said we need a few more Maharastrians (people from the state Mumbai is in) and smiled off through the doorway. It's just one of those moments that I'm sure so many people have had where they experienced that certain unquantifiable charisma that he had.
JournalismJobs.com: You co-host a podcast for ABCNews.com called "The Shuffle." For those not familiar with podcasting, what is it? Is it simply a video blog?
Hari Sreenivasan: It's not video -- just audio (so far :-) But it's a way to create and distribute audio clips that can be downloaded from a website and played back on a computer. Or more often, played back on a portable mp3 player like an ipod.
JournalismJobs.com: Is podcasting a new form of journalism?
Hari Sreenivasan: Not necessarily a new form, but a new method of distribution. The story still has to have a beginning, middle and end. It's also a way for people in the proverbial garage to start sharing their thoughts much they way they do in text form with web logs or "blogs."
JournalismJobs.com: How do you think podcasting will affect radio news in particular and journalism in general?
Hari Sreenivasan: I'm not a Nostradamus for broadcast, but I think like most new technologies it'll supplement the existing radio medium. The advantage of podcasts are of course that you can play your favorite programs when you want not when the radio stations want you to listen. The disadvantage of this time-shifting phenomenon is of course that you aren't hearing the information in real time.
JournalismJobs.com: Podcasting seems to part of a trend toward on-demand programming. Where does news fit in?
Hari Sreenivasan: News should be accessible to a consumer in any way, at any time they so choose it. For example, you could wake up and watch the local ABC morning team or 'Good Morning America' before heading out to work, catch "traffic and weather together" on an ABC News radio station on the commute in, get to your desk and have a streaming news channel like ABC News Now running in the background throughout the day, or head over and check out the day's stories at ABCNews.com and have the day's podcasts downloaded into your mp3 player for your run in the park at the end of the day.
JournalismJobs.com: In addition to this podcasting, you anchor live breaking news and hourly news briefs for ABC News Now, a 24-hour news channel. Where can you watch it and what makes it different from the cable news channels?
Hari Sreenivasan: For starters, our shows are 15 minutes long. They range in substance from focused newscasts from the Middle East or South America or Asia to gossip, entertainment, style or technology. It's a variety of programming that includes the breaking news stories of the day, and its attitude is a bit more casual and laid back. We have shows where you get to hear what else the reporter has learned on the story besides what will make air on 'World News Tonight,' etc.
JournalismJobs.com: ABC News delivers programming via multiple media platforms including broadcast, cable, satellite, broadband and wireless. Looking ahead, which platform do you think will prevail?
Hari Sreenivasan: At the end of the day, the strength of all of this working depends on how good the stories are and how good the storytellers are. I think they will all succeed in different ways -- one doesn't have to beat the other. Podcasts won't be a failure if more people watch TV -- it's just about getting people the information in the method most convenient to them.
JournalismJobs.com: Before going to ABC News, you were a senior correspondent for CNET News.com, a business and technology show CNET Networks (an Internet company) produced for CNBC. You also worked for other CNET shows during the dot.com boom. What is most memorable about this experience?
Hari Sreenivasan: I had a front row seat to watch the bubble grow and burst. It's something else to do a story about a 19 year old paper millionaire one year and two years later do another story on the same individual trying to get out of a massive alternative minimum tax burden because their company has busted and they are left with nothing. It was an exciting time to be alive in the valley -- dreams were funded (some inappropriately), but anything seemed possible.
JournalismJobs.com: There are not many South Asians, or Asian males for that matter, in journalism. Does that bother you?
Hari Sreenivasan: Yes, I work with the South Asian Journalists Association and the Asian American Journalists Association to try and encourage more men of color (Asians even more so) to enter the business. I'm rather realistic to help them understand the ups and downs of the business, but our communities are better served by ideologically/racially/ethnically diverse storytellers.
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