NewsTracker Blog 4: What Makes WIRED Tick?

As discussed in a previous post, the creators of WIRED have likened the magazine and website as the tech version of the high-octane, culture-kaleidoscope that is Rolling Stone. But what exactly makes WIRED a unique outlet? 

This week I’ve selected three pieces to analyze and figure out exactly what makes them a WIRED story. 

From climate change and manipulating dreams to art forgery: here’s what I found. 

The first article is a story that has hit the home pages of virtually any outlet with a strong science section. The lede revolves around a study released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) that contradicts (not shockingly) everything Trump and his administration have said about climate change. But the timing of the report’s release by the federal government is suspicious, and many outlets and experts have put forth the idea that the Black Friday date was picked in order to bury the story. 

This shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone familiar with the Trump administration’s efforts to censor scientists. But here’s the catch– NOAA is an incredibly capable agency that is full of stellar scientists, and the federal government pushed the release of the NOAA report a full week early. 

What separates this piece from other outlets running with the same topic is the level of sass exhibited by the journalist in reporting the article (cue the WIRED/Rolling Stone personality mash-up). In fact, it almost seems like an op-ed disguised as a news story. 

Next, I took a look at a wildly different feature that discussed lucid dreaming. We’re talking Inception level stuff here. 

This piece was WILD and I can’t really imagine it running on many other sites other than WIRED. The article is an excerpt out of a first-person narrative of the author Alice Robb’s journey into manipulating her dreams through active experiences at lucid-dream retreats and interviews with lucidity experts (it’s a thing). 

But it’s not just a crazy pseudo-science fairy tale. Robb talks to neuroscientists, online lucidity gurus, retreat specialist, pharmaceutical companies, and more. 

Even though the excerpt isn’t a Wired original, it’s appearance on the site plays right into WIRED’s appeal as the place to go for unique content that other outlets won’t publish–or rather might be afraid to. 

Last but certainly not least, I’ve included a WIRED video story to conclude this mini-investigation. 


Honestly this is just fun. It’s light fare that’s entertaining but ultimately rooted in science and analysis which is what excellent science communication should be. The production values are pretty good, with a nice mix of shots and angles and no freakish VOX-like rapid-fire editing. The video uses primary sources and clearly illustrates its point, meaning that you actually learn how art experts can spot a forgery.

I’ve been hard on WIRED in previous blogs, but to give them credit, they really are one of the best science communication media sources out there. They don’t shy away from stories that could considered odd or too complicated. They’re unique in a way that doesn’t seem to be too forceful, and for the most part, their work is rooted in research. 

WIRED isn’t a traditional news source, but it doesn’t want to be. And that’s what makes it great.


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