Q&A: Greta Looks Back at 10 Years of "Blogging With Friends" on GretaWire
For 11 years, you've welcomed Greta Van Susteren into your homes every weeknight as she's brought you the news from here and around the globe on On the Record. And for almost just as long, you've followed her on the web as she's blogged about everything from her prized pets to the horrors happening in Sudan. Now, Greta's celebrating 10 years of Gretawire ... and we wanted to ask her firsthand what she thinks makes the site so special.
The Insider caught up with Greta yesterday to have a candid convo about what's in store for the blog, what she's learned since its launch, and why she calls the GretaWire loyalists "some of her closest friends."
Fox News Insider: When you started the blog, you truly were embarking on something that not many people – anyone, really -- were engaged in or understood the importance of. Why did you start it?
Greta Van Susteren: I’m pretty sure I was the first person [to really do this], and I’ve been the most active and the most hands-on, and I obviously have had the most carry-through. You know some people start them and never stick with them. It’s for a really simple reason. Look, I’ve got a great job, don’t get me wrong. Being on TV is fun ... but you talk to a camera! You really don’t get to interact with people.
The best thing about GretaWire is that I actually get to interact with people [...] and so it actually did make the show much more interactive. So, I didn’t feel like I was talking at people but having a conversation with people. Whether we disagreed or whatever, it was just for fun and it’s just a more effective way to communicate and get feedback.
FNI: Why have you maintained it and kept at it all these years??
GVS: I do it for one reason – it’s really fun. It’s that simple. I have a blast doing it. I know the bloggers [...] I have some brand new friends who I consider some of my best friends, but I’ve never even met them. But we blog so much together that I feel like I know them. I know them, they know me. On my birthday, they’ll send me fudge. Or, I’ll send them something. It’s just a club! It’s like some people join the Kiwanis Club, or some people join the Rotary Club - I’ve got GretaWire.
FNI: I can only imagine that with all of the technology changes, and as the audience changes along with that technology, you’ve probably learned a great deal!
GVS: Yeah, but I also get frustrated because for the one thing that I want to do, the technology still isn’t there yet. What I want is to do live reports straight to GretaWire from the field. I do a lot of field work - I was just in Florida this week; I’ve been to Korea; I’ve been in the Sudan, Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, all over the world reporting for On the Record - but while I’m there, there’s so much more I could be doing if I could do live streaming right to GretaWire. And it’s kind of a complicated process, because we’re not quite there yet .. almost, but not quite.
But that’s what my goal is - to basically take my iPhone and report from anywhere in the world live to GretaWire. As well as, I might add some of my aggressive blogger internet colleagues - like Adam Housley out in California - because Adam and I are both gadget nuts. Adam does a lot of field work, so I’d love to have him stream live. Because in between your hits on the air, you don’t have anything to do. So it’s a perfect opportunity.
FNI: So is that what’s next for GretaWire?
GVS: Yes! And I have more … I’d like to do a morning show, a radio show on it.
FNI: What do you hope your viewers' experience is when they visit GretaWire?
GVS: Friendship, engagement, discussions about serious issues, light-heartedness. You know, it’s a club. We have tough issues sometimes; sometimes they get really mad at me. Some of them. [...] And the other thing is that I’m a lawyer by education, and for years I used to represent protesters and demonstrators at the White House, and I’m a big strong believer in the First Amendment - it’s not absolute; you can’t yell 'fire' in a crowded theater - but I don’t have any big moderator out there who’s moderating anything, so it’s pretty loose. [...] It is a ma and pop operation, and with the First Amendment, it’s pretty much say what you want. Everyone may complain about it and run you off it if you’re nasty , but other than that it’s pretty open.
You know, it’s so different, what’s happened with TV. Years ago in the early 1960s, it was three men in New York who’d decide what was going to be on the news - ABC, CBS and NBC - and in 22 minutes, they delivered it. And then along came Ted Turner about 1980, and he has a great idea of 24/7 cable news and everyone thought it couldn’t happen. Turned out he was actually right. Then as time has progressed, the internet came around in the mid-1990s and people have become more involved in the collecting of information and in reporting and in discussing. So it’s sort of a natural progression that we would be doing this now, because people want to be more engaged. People don’t want to be talked at anymore like they were in the early '60s, where three people decided what 22 minutes of news you were going to hear. On GretaWire, they are active participants; they’re not just sitting there. They are involved, and so that’s sort of fun.
I guarantee you that the GretaWire bloggers know more about the horrible, rotten, evil President Bashir of Sudan than any other group of people in America. I’ve traveled there and I’ve taken pictures of people who are starving to death because Bashir is bombing them to death, and they’re hiding in caves. So, what GretaWire has enabled me to do [is] create causes among the group. You know, they’re all appalled and they all keep up with it. So, what it does is those stories [that] cable news doesn’t really cover because we have other things we have to cover, it allows me to have important projects out there that I can [...] really fire up people to be interested in and motivated with and concerned with.
(NOTE: Greta has also been able to grow awareness on GretaWire about Greta Home and Academy - a charity located in Haiti named in honor of Greta and with which she and Rev. Franklin Graham work to provide housing and education to those in need. Go here to learn how you can get involved. Plus, click here to visit another of Greta's favorite charities - Pet Connect Rescue.)
FNI: What's been the most rewarding part of having GretaWire?
GVS: You know, the companionship with the bloggers is the [most rewarding] thing. We put up a video on GretaWire yesterday - one of the bloggers sent me a mug for the 10th anniversary, and [in the video] I said, 'I don’t mean to be sappy, because I’m not a sappy-type person, but it’s like these are my friends.' I like them.
A big congratulations to Greta on 10 years of GretaWire, and we for one can't wait to see what's in store! Plus, for all of you tech-savvy folks out there, did you know you can chat with Greta while "On the Record" is happening?! Well, you can. Click here to visit the GretaWire Live Chat and interact with Greta during the show, weeknights starting at 10p ET.