Mini-Profile: Laurie Kretchmar

Laurie Kretchmar is the managing editor of Women's Wire (http://women.com), a hip and intelligent interactive magazine. Spike Gillespie recently talked to her about her job, women online, and the future of the Net.DESCRIBE YOUR JOB AT WOMEN'S WIRE I assign, edit and produce content with a team of editors, freelance writers and Web people. We currently feature daily headlines, health news, advice galore from biz shrink to drill sergeant to sexpert and others, a backtalk area where we ask a hot question of the week (we've asked about everything from Barbie to Bosnia, and that's just the B's), profiles about top execs like Geraldine Laybourne, who built Nickelodeon into a major force for kids' TV, and entrepreneurs like designer Nicole Miller; a ton of links to other Web sites and more. The goal is to inform and amuse. And that's what people tell us they like -- that we're both useful and entertaining, not just one or the other.WHAT DO YOU DO OFFLINE? Go to movies, Rollerblade, think about the Web, make myself jog.HOW DID YOU GET STARTED? Women's Wire, which is based in the San Francisco Bay Area, recruited me from Working Woman magazine in NYC where I was an editor. Before that I was a reporter at Fortune and a freelancer for the Wall Street Journal (highlight: I wrote several "orphans" -- those offbeat features that run in the lower left-hand corner of the second section). I've also worked at daily and weekly newspapers and dabbled in radio and TV. The Web is by far the most exciting and addicting medium I've worked in.WHAT'S THE HARDEST PART? As anyone who works on the Web knows, you're in a constant state of revision and refinement. Since the product of your efforts doesn't just "air" at a certain time like a TV show or get zapped by satellite to a printing press at regular intervals, you're never really finished; you can always try to make it better. It's what the Japanese call "kaizen," constant improvement. (I learned that term when I covered the NUMMI auto plant, the joint venture between GM/Toyota. It makes for good cars. I think it makes for good web sites, too;-)).WHO IS THE TARGET DEMOGRAPHIC? Young-minded women -- and men, too (if they're cool). Wired (January, 1996) described our Web site as "one to bookmark, regardless of your sex" and we agree! People with a sense of humor and an appreciation for cheeky, substantive information, whether it's about fashion (yes, fashion, check out "fashion plate," our style expert, she's hilarious) or how to pursue a hot career.WHAT KIND OF RESPONSE ARE YOU GETTING? We launched Aug. 1 and we were soon getting 1.5 million hits a month. So far, in 1996, traffic is even higher, and we expect it will grow as more people hear about us.PREDICTIONS FOR WOMEN AND THE INTERNET? It will take women to turn new media into a mass media. We're a great influence. Think about it: A lot of us are demanding, we don't have time to waste, we want things to be accessible and easy to navigate, we want friendly, not snotty service, and these are all attributes that will make the Internet far more successful as a medium. Surveys vary in how many women are online; some say 35%, but whatever the exact figure, we like to point out that it's going in the right direction -- up. To help boost the numbers and spread the joy of e-mail, ask yourself -- is your mom online? your sis? your best friend? If not, encourage them to give it a whirl and see for themselves what all the hype is about.

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