hira Lazar is the host and executive producer of the daily news program / weekly live show What’s Trending. In early September 2011, Shira Lazar found herself surrounded in a controversy after a CBS staffer unintentionally retweeted a rumor that Apple’s late chairman Steve Jobs had passed away. Despite her retraction of the tweet and issuing a formal apology, CBS immediately severed their ties with the 26-years-old online journalist, sparking a debate over whether the broadcast company overreacted to the fiasco. During our brief exchange over e-mail, we asked Lazar about her background in the blogosphere and though she didn’t have any comment on her recent fallout with CBS, she shared her thoughts on the legacies of the man.
Q: For our readers who may not be familiar with your blog, can you tell us a bit about yourself and What’s Trending blog?
A: I’m the the host and executive producer of What’s Trending, we’re a weekly live interactive talk show for the digital age involving your favorite influencers and celebs who are making and sharing the news online. We also have a daily blog that keeps you updated on the top trending stories. We’ve had everyone on the show from Lupe Fiasco, Common, will.i.am to Chris Hardwick, Mark Cuban and Terrell Owens. It’s a fun and eclectic mix.
Q: When did you first take interest in the world of Internet news?
A: I’ve always been a news magazine and talk show junkie. With the growth of social media and news online over the past few years, it has allowed me to connect with the stories and people behind them more than ever before. The first moment I realized the power of the individual as a storyteller is probably when I was running around with my cell phone during the writers’ strike in 2008. I just stopped and started shooting and interviewing Norm MacDonald on my phone and uploaded directly to my site 5 minutes later--No publicist or official outlet.
Q: You also run a YouTube interview series called “Partners Project.” How did that come about and who have you interviewed?
A: We like to describe it as “Inside the Actors Studio for YouTube stars”. I was doing interviews for the vlogbrothers at the first ever Vidcon. Seeing the fan reactions to these YouTubers blew us away. They were lined up trying to meet these people like they were about to meet The Beatles. We felt we were witnessing history in the making and someone needed to archive and tell their stories. That’s when the idea for Partners Project began. We launched in December of 2010 and have produced over 43 weekly episodes since with individuals who are making their careers on YouTube. Their stories are so inspiring! We’ve interviewed everyone including Annoying Orange, iJustine, Jenna Marbles, Freddie Wong and Fred.
Q: Needless to say, many online journalists and technology bloggers were devastated to hear that Steve jobs had passed away. How did you react to the news?
A: Steve Jobs is a huge inspiration to each of us at What’s Trending. I’ve grown up using everything Apple. We’re so fortunate that we have an incredible community supporting us that has allowed us to push forward and continue to record numbers. After Steve Jobs’ sudden passing last week, we had to figure out how we were going to cover and react to the outpouring of emotions and support from around the world. We decided to create a special live stream the following day that included tech influencers over skype and in studio sharing their stories about Steve Jobs. We had Robert Scoble, Chris Pirillo, Ben Parr Editor-at-large Mashable.com, Drew Olanoff from thenextweb.com and Amber Mac among many others. It was incredible to see the community come together like that so quickly to share how he impacted all of their lives. It was one of our most watched livestreams ever.
Q: What is your favorite Internet meme?
A: Besides Keyboard Cat, there are two that will always have a special place in my heart--Antoine Dodson and Double Rainbow. I was the first to interview both of them online just as their videos were getting big. It was crazy to see them “go viral”, and to connect and tell their stories before they blew up. You always have a connection to people when you’re the first to share their story with the world.
Shira Lazar is an Emmy-nominated web series executive producer and blogger behind the daily Internet news blog What’s Trending and her writing has been featured in a number of news media outlets including CNN, CBS and Huffington Post. She currently resides and works in Los Angeles and continues to write and produce for her blog. This interview was conducted via e-mail on October 10th, 2011. Photo courtesy of ShiraLazar.com.