Unscripted and unfiltered: Recode's Kara Swisher talks tech at Turner

Turner, along with Ladies in Tech at Turner (LiTT) and the company’s Global Technology & Operations (GTO) organization, teamed up to host tech journalist and entrepreneur Kara Swisher at an event in Atlanta last week.

Once described as Silicon Valley’s “most feared and well-liked journalist,” the “Recode” co-founder chatted with Jeremy Legg, Turner’s Chief Technology Officer, about a wide range of topics – from diversity in the tech industry to her admiration of “Rick and Morty” to what Atlanta, an emerging tech hub in its own right, can learn from Silicon Valley’s successes and mistakes.

Swisher says having a variety of viewpoints is immeasurably valuable in business, but leaders must make diversity a priority.

“People think it’s a meritocracy in Silicon Valley. It’s not… it’s a mirror-tocracy. They’re looking at each other and then they get the same result,” she says. “Really good managements have an ‘irritant’ in the system to get that diversity of thought… Not just diversity of age, color, or gender… but a diversity of everything.”

Since major tech companies – chiefly Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft – wield so much power and influence in the tech world, Swisher is calling on them to take a stand. She says it’s time for those companies to start looking at themselves as more than mere platforms, but also as thought leaders.

“Define your values and stick to them. Not because it’s P.C. or because you want people to get along… but because in a diverse environment, better ideas always come out,” she advises.

Many tech companies are moving in the right direction, she says. Swisher heralded Google and Sheryl Sandberg’s foundation for moving the needle via mentorships and training programs but says much more needs to be done.

“Talent is everywhere. It’s just the opportunity that’s lost,” she says. “Everywhere in the world there are people who are just missing the opportunities because of their circumstances.”

Legg also asked Swisher about the responsibility of the media with the content it produces and the careful balancing act it must play to help the public differentiate between fact and opinion. According to Swisher, change can begin with a simple format fix.

“The screaming fests on cable TV are damaging… The press is under siege, but they’ve been under siege since the beginning of time,” she says. “The media has to stop being reactive… Don’t foment the hysteria.”

Turner would like to thank Kara Swisher for sharing her own life experiences and shedding light on some of the biggest challenges facing the media and tech industries, especially as it relates to diversity. At Turner, diversity and inclusion is the backbone of our fans-first strategy and our commitment to making the company a great place to work. Turner is committed to becoming an authentic reflection of our audiences and creating leading-edge development opportunities for our employees and leaders.