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September 29, 2005

Penenberg Moves to Slate

New York University journalism professor Adam Penenberg, who first gained prominence in 1998 when he exposed serial fabricator Stephen Glass, is moving from Wired News to Slate, where he will continue writing columns about technology. Gelf first talked with Penenberg a few months ago when he was asked by Wired News to look into stories written for the site by Michelle Delio. (Gelf had questioned the authenticity of some of Delio's sources.) Now that he's leaving Wired News, we caught up with him over email to ask him about the next step.

Gelf Magazine: Are you going to be writing the same column you wrote for Wired News?

Adam Penenberg: No. Wired News Media Hack was about media and technology. For Slate I'll be focusing on the impact that technology has on culture, politics, and business. It's a broader beat, offering a wider variety of material. Besides, Slate has plenty of terrific media columnists, so they don't need me for that.

GM: Have you always been a fan of Slate? Do you like the contrarian style?

AP: Yes, I have always been a fan of Slate and appreciate the quality of writing and editing. It's a very writer-friendly publication, and the editors encourage you to be creative, take a stance, don't be afraid to ruffle feathers. I can't think of a better environment for me.

GM: At this point is Slate more prestigious than if a major newspaper or magazine had come calling?

AP: Ah, the old web vs. print question. I'm equally at home in both worlds but am very happy about joining Slate to write about issues I care about. For a columnist there is no better job than the one that allows you to write about the things you care about. So my answer really has to do with the nature of the job than the nature of the medium.

GM: Did you enjoy your time at Wired News? Did your Delio inquiry rub anyone the wrong way?

AP: Yes, I enjoyed writing a column for Wired News and, I think, the editors appreciated what I had to offer. The editors supported the Delio inquiry and I'm not aware of it rubbing anyone the wrong way at Wired News.

GM: In the press release we received, the lead is your investigation into Stephen Glass. How do you feel about that always being the lead? Would you like to see something different in a press release 10 years down the line?

AP: I don't care one way or the other. I have no control how people refer to me. Slate didn't hire me because of Stephen Glass. I was hired because Jacob Weisberg believes I can write columns that would appeal to Slate readers—a high compliment, if you ask me, because Slate already has a lot of talent on staff.

Carl Bialik contributed to this post.

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