Meet Roy Klabin, PolicyMic's Inaugural Pundit of the Week

Meet Roy Klabin, PolicyMic rockstar and 'Internet Diplomat.' As part of our new 'Pundit of the Week' blog, we'll spotlight one writer to interface with all of you, and talk about his/her personal experience with the PolicyMic platform. Plus, each Pundit gets to pose one never-been-asked question of a PolicyMic staff member. Next week it could be you!

About Roy: He lived in 4 countries before he was a teenager and has always worked in some form of communications – be it film, television, disaster-relief or tech start-ups. Roy cites the news industry as a personal fascination and has a strong desire to contribute to whatever manifestation comes next.

Caira Conner (CC): First things first, when and why did you join PolicyMic?

Roy Klabin (RK): I joined PolicyMic in January of this year. I recently finished my applications to graduate school, and wanted to study as many online news platforms as I could before classes began. PolicyMic struck me as distinct, because of its ability to bring in diverse ideas, streamline the news in an uncluttered way, and encourage real people to contribute without the veil of anonymity.

CC: You've had significant success on the site in a relatively short amount of time. How has your experience been as a PolicyMic Pundit, and how are your supporters, both on and off our platform, responding?

RK: The site does a great job of rewarding effort and encouraging participation. I originally signed up just to comment on some articles I found interesting, but the “mic” reward system quickly helps you feel like your contributions are being read and interacted with by real people.

Some sites prefer user anonymity, and some sites consider comments an irrelevant afterthought. PolicyMic’s eagerness to include the audience in the story is what made me want to write for the site – the future of journalism has to account for the online conversation that surrounds each piece of news. People are very much becoming part of the story, rather than just an audience.

As for supporters – I’ve enjoyed debating, arguing and even (somewhat respectfully) disagreeing with people over the topics I cover. Offline – my parents couldn’t be happier.

CC: What is something about your experience with PolicyMic that's surprised you?

Tom McKay’s freakish editing skills, seriously. For the most part, editors give you space, let you pitch ideas and offer guidance when it’s needed. But Tom is like a weird ghost in the machine that’s always around, catches every mistake and torments me over Gchat. I have to assume the man functions on a steady stream of Red Bull and black market speed pills.

CC: If you could pick the best thing to come of your using PolicyMic, what would it be?

The life of a PolicyMic contributor could easily be compared to that of a Hollywood celebrity – except for the whole annoying fame, wealth and mansion routine. But the best thing for me has been the opportunity to be educated by my opposition. It seems for every position I’ve taken, some passionate individual will fill the comments sections with well researched counter-arguments within an hour. We live in a two-party country, and most media sources lean one way. It’s nice to have a healthy gray zone debate, on issues otherwise dominated by black-and-white fanatics.

CC: Let's go offline. What do you like to do when you're not PolicyMic-ing?

RK: I enjoy skiing, old arcade games, music festivals, cinema, running and rock-climbing. I’m also a Burning Man fanatic, and would be happy to write a Culture section piece about that incredible environment.

CC: Your turn. Anything you'd like to ask one of our esteemed Editors? They're an honest bunch.

My question is for Christopher Altchek: "As PolicyMic continues to grow as a news source, will you ever consider investing in originally produced content – like video interviews with public figures or short investigatory documentaries?"

Chris Altchek:  Roy, great question. One of our top priorities is to continue to increase the quality of PolicyMic's news and analysis every single month. Along with publishing more articles on a wide variety of topics, we are constantly increasing our publishing standards and helping our pundits tell better stories. Recently, we've invested in two great new editors, Laura & Tom, who along with Chris Miles are ensuring higher quality across the site. 

In terms of investing in original reporting, both written and video – this is something that we are definitely considering. We have already started small experiments by providing stipends for our pundits to do original reporting. During the elections, we helped several pundits attend the debates in person. Next week, we are supporting a pundit at SWSX. Looking ahead, we want to increase our focus on original reporting that incorporates more video. Over 2013, we are figuring out new advertising strategies that will provide us with the capital needed to invest in our pundits and support their creation of more incredible content. In 2014, we hope to have a formal program for our top pundits to support investigative reporting and video journalism.

CC: Roy, you rock. Thanks for being our inaugural Pundit of the Week, and for helping make PolicyMic great.

For more news on Roy, follow him on Twitter: @RoyKlabin