It all started when Shira Lazar lost her personal video camera. The broadcast journalist and hobbyist video blogger decided she wasn't going to fork over a couple hundred dollars for a new Nokia n95. So she called up Nokia and made her plea—more journalists should be shooting video on the go and she would help with the outreach. One free camera later, Nokia asked Lazar to be the first official vlogger for the Webby Awards summit. A hybrid journalist was born. "That was the tipping point," Lazar remembers.
After the camera incident, along with a few red carpet connections, Lazar became the go-to MC to "glamorize" tech events. Most recently, she glammed up the PayPal developer conference in October, and before he was the king of Twitter, Ashton Kutcher crowned her social media maven after she won his social media challenge at Sundance in 2009.
"We need to know not only how to tell stories, but how to listen, share and respond. Traffic, comments and social media conversation around a story are the new Nielsen ratings," Lazar says. "That's something that some traditional folk might fear, the loss of that control over its audience. For me that's empowering and is why I do what I do."
Lazar recently launched the Partners Project, a YouTube talk show where she interviews YouTube celebrities, such as iJustine and Mystery Guitar Man. She also blogs and vlogs for CBS News about social media and pop culture trends and contributes to The Huffington Post. While technology can be confusing for some, Lazar aims to be a humanizing agent in her work.
"When you bring out the human stories, not just the specs and the numbers, that's powerful," Lazar says. "Whether it's telling about a reunion on Facebook or how it mobilizes people for a cause, that's the power of social media. That's when you make people understand what it's about and you get them doing it. It's not just about being an observer."