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Inside the Media Mind of CIO’s Grant Gross

We previously welcomed Grant Gross to Inside the Media Minds in 2018 when he was working as a freelance journalist covering the progression of election security, artificial intelligence (AI) and technology-influenced trends. With those topics increasing in relevance today, and Grant’s new role, we figured it was a great time to catch up! Today, as a senior writer at CIO, Grant is focused on the challenges and trends that are affecting CIOs and related C-suite executives.

On this episode of Inside the Media Minds, Grant dives into the massive rush for organizations to adopt AI, 2024 trends for CIOs and the recent European Union (EU) AI Act.

EU AI Regulations and Today’s Top Trends

On the heels of the April 2024 announcement of the EU AI Act, which sets forth regulations for any providers, deployers, importers and distributors of AI systems in the EU regardless of company locations, Grant discusses the challenges that companies around the world are facing as they work to integrate the new guidelines into their business operations. Grant points out that this is particularly challenging for some organizations to accomplish, as they themselves are unclear as to how the business is utilizing AI in their offered products or services.

Other top trends Grant is keeping an eye on? (Hint: they also touch on AI.) Since it is an election year, he’s paying close attention to conversations surrounding election technology security, as well as how AI could be used in the creation or proliferation of disinformation and deep fakes. He also anticipates seeing greater discussions around the use of unauthorized AI platforms by employees who are sending sensitive business information into the ether.

To hear more from Grant on today’s top AI topics, the importance of PR professionals building relationships with journalists and more, tune in below or read the full transcript here!


0:46 – Updates From Grant Since Our 2018 Conversation

1:33 – Differences Between Grant’s Roles at IMSG 

3:38 – Most Interesting Topics Grant is Covering 

6:22 – CIOs’ Reactions to EU AI Regulations 

9:35 – Trends in the Spotlight for the 2024 Election Cycle 

13:41 – Identifying a Deep Fake 

15:42 – How to Pitch Grant 

21:24 – New Trends Grant is Hearing From Experts 

23:50 – Grant’s Lessons Learned 

28:27 – Grant’s Love of Gaming, Guitar and Baseball 

Want to go inside more media minds? Find all of our past episodes here!


Intro: Welcome to Inside the Media Minds. This is your host, Christine Blake. This show features in-depth interviews with tech reporters who share everything from their biggest pet peeves to their favorite stories. From our studio at W2 Communications. Let’s go Inside the Media Minds.

Madison Farabaugh (MF): Welcome, everyone to this week’s episode of Inside the Media Minds. I’m your host MF filling in for Christine Blake and I’m here with my co-host, Luca, and we’re excited to welcome back GG, senior writer at CIO Magazine, where he covers enterprise technology, cybersecurity, tech policy, all of the goods there. So welcome back, Grant.

Grant Gross (GG): Thanks. Thanks for having me.

MF: Course. And since you’ve been on the show, before, I know last time we interviewed you was back in 2018. And you’re working as a freelance journalist. Can you give us a rundown on what you’ve been up to, you know, the past few years and where your career has taken you since then?

GG: Yeah. Most of that, the time since then, I’ve still worked as a freelance journalist and writing about other things in technology, some marketing, writing, some PR writing some white paper kinds of things. And then I worked for about a minute I was at a cybersecurity company as a writer in the marketing department. And then, now I’m back to better serve journalism at

Luca Pagni (LP): So I guess this, you know, would be the natural segue, what has kind of been the key differences between your previous role at IDG? And your current role? And you explain were your main focus area is for us?

GG: Yeah, so or, most of my time, last. The last round at IDG, I was preparing Technology Policy writing about Congress and the FCC, and FTC and, and Department of Justice and all that, as they, as they related to technology, lots of tech policy stuff. This time around, I’m focused mainly on the CIO role and related roles, you know, Chief Data Officer, Chief AI officer, things like that. And kind of what the challenges they’re facing kind of trends and technology that impacts CIOs, and related C-suite people. Enterprise software, AI is big right now, of course. So the things like that, so not focused a lot on tech policy, I write every once in a while, because that’s kind of a subject that I care about. And I’m interested in. So once in a while I’ll write about a tech policy issue that that, you know, CIOs might impact CIOs, but it’s kind of broader, more about the CIO role and what what the challenges they’re facing what what the trends are impacting them.

LP: Gotcha. Yeah, that’s definitely an interesting intersection to be at. And with all the numerous technologies, as you mentioned, AI have played a huge factor into what affects everyone in the C-suite. You know, everyone has their take on it, their view. So, and as you mentioned, because of AI being this hot topic, I know, you’ve covered it a ton along with virtualization, enterprise software regulation, policy, as you mentioned, what’s been the most interesting of those that you’ve covered? Or is there been one, you know, item within one of those categories that has really caught your eye?

GG: But I think, I mean, there’s, AI is really interesting, right? Now, there’s a lot of hype, and a lot of a lot of organizations are rushing to adopt it, and in some cases, not knowing what they’re going to use it for. And so it’s interesting to me, interesting to me, is kind of this hype cycle in which, you know, everybody thinks they have to have AI but they don’t quite know what they’re going to do with it yet. In some cases, not in all cases. There are some very good examples of people using AI well, but it seems like a lot of people are kind of just bumbling yet in terms of what what they want to use it for, how they’re going to use it. I think the AI market is still very young and I think we haven’t really seen what all it can do yet. And so watching that mature and watching how people find interesting things to do with it, I think is a topic that will be around for quite a while.

LP: Definitely that makes sense. And yeah, I guess you know, AI was maybe about a year ago, maybe even longer was overnight just became this, you know, popularity term or like, like it became hype, as you said. And so I think, yeah, we’re now getting into that point of time where, okay, the hype has died down, let’s see the execution, let’s see, you know, if the proof is really in the pudding in this, and how are we going to use it? How are we going to regulate it? How are we going to control it and, you know, move forward as a industry and as a country really even to make sure that we can effectively use it.

GG: There are a lot of challenges around around, you know, kind of ethical uses of it. And and, I mean, there will be certainly attempts at regulation, and how do we make sure that people are using it in a way that benefits humanity as a whole and not. And AI can be used for a lot of things like disinformation. And so it’ll be interesting to follow that as well.

MF: Yeah, I’m glad you brought that up, because that’s a great segue into the question I wanted to ask next, which was the EU AI Act, which came out this year, first of its kind for kind of what regulations around AI and the use of it, the deployment of it, what that could look like. So for, I would love to hear your thoughts on how CIOs have been reacting to this, how they might fare with implementing some of those guidelines. And then, you know, the follow up there is if you’ve heard anything interest, interesting from CIOs from the industry about what maybe changes with the pros and cons of it, you know, just wanted to hear your thoughts on that.

GG: I mean, it’s been coming for a while, and the EU is pretty good about and here’s what we’re working on here. Here’s the direction we’re headed. And so a lot of people have kind of known that it’s coming and known, generally what it’s going to look like. And so I think there will be some organizations that have some trouble implementing it. And I think, for some people, the transparency requirements, and the back kind of thing would be a little tough to figure out. There’s some reporting requirements. And for I mean, that will add some work for a lot of organizations. And, you know, the, the other thing is that, even though it really is aimed at AI, being used in the EU, it’s, it’s any AI that any EU resident uses, and so in some ways becomes a worldwide standard. And so, so even countries like the U.S. that are not moving as quickly on that kind of stuff, many U.S. companies that have to deal with those transparency and reporting requirements. So there’s been some kind of complaining about those things in in that it’s gonna make more work for companies to to issue these reports about their AI usage and things like that. And there’s some transparency requirements that that, that users will be able to access. And so and so some of that will be, if not maybe difficult to do. It’s just extra work. I think for some companies, they may not exactly know what they’re doing totally with AI. And so, I mean, in different parts of the organization. And for some organizations, that may be a little difficult to kind of get a handle on what everybody’s doing AI in their companies do to comply with those reports.

LP: Definitely makes sense. And so I guess, pulling on that thread a little bit further and tying back into your previous comment of how AI can be used in disinformation. You know, we’re constantly hearing about disinformation being a point of concern for this year’s upcoming election. So I’d be curious to hear your take on within another election cycle taking place this year. What trends do you anticipate will be in the spotlight? Do you think disinformation is going to be the top of that list? Do you where do you think there’s some other topics of might or other concerns might outrank that?

GG: No, I think, I think disinformation and and whether it’s, you know, being done by AI or being done by, you know, these huge warehouses people in Russia, you know, I think that’s going to be a really serious issue for this upcoming election. I mean, I think there are a couple other tech issues that can both be bubbled, that can bubble up, I don’t think tech issues are going to be at the top of the agenda at four, four for this election cycle. But you know, I think President Biden will talk about kind of infrastructure and funding chip plants, that’ll be one of his kind of campaign, campaign points to make. Um, and then I think, depending on how the election goes, there may again be a focus on election technology, and whether it’s safe and secure, and all of those things, but I don’t know that, you know, things like the TiKTok ban won’t be a major issue, maybe among young people, but that Biden in Trump’s thoughts on TikTok are not all that much different. But, uh, yeah, disinformation is going to be huge. I think there’ll be a, a, the election technology will be closely kind of monitored. And, and, you know, some of its some of the complaints about the last election morning, or even about technology, but more about the, like, early voting and stuff like that, but, but there were enough complaints about some voting machines. And I think most voting machine, people have now kind of figured out how to secure them for the most part, but, but we’ve had issues demonstrated in the past. And so I think that could continue to be an issue.

LP: Definitely makes sense. I mean, yeah, definitely, it will be one to keep an eye on just given that. AI. Now, as you said earlier, it’s become this hot topic over the last year, and now it’s drawing eyes to election security, I feel more so than a years past.

GG: Well, and, you know, like deep fakes, too, like, I like videos and stuff like that, we’re going to, at some point, we’re gonna see, you know, a candidate, I don’t know, if it’s a presidential candidate or candidate in a video doing something, you know, not good. It’s gonna be a deep, deep fake video. And then how do you explain that to people? You know, I see feed stuff on my Facebook feed all the time. That is obviously AI generated and people are falling. Yeah. Yeah. It’s obvious to me. Not to most people out there. For some people.

LP: Yeah, it it definitely requires a keen eye and I guess a little bit of cynicism. Whenever you go on the internet of “Don’t believe everything that you see the first time around, look into it a little bit more.” Yeah, I think is a good way to go about things in general don’t always believe what you see at first, do your research.

MF: Yeah, Grant, I actually have a follow up question that that so because you said you can tell sometimes of oh, this is clearly AI generated, what are some of those, you know, first things where you see it, and it’s obvious to you, but

GG: I don’t know how these things get on my Facebook feed, but I ever get pictures of people. And like celebrities and people like that. And you can go that, that looks that doesn’t look like a real picture that looks a bit animated. You know, and there’s there’s it’s pretty close. But it’s Yeah. And so I don’t I don’t even know what the what’s the business model is there? I mean, you get 1000 likes on this AI generated picture what what does that help you with? But But yeah, but some of its pretty good, you know, depending on the AI some of its pretty good. And I worry a little bit about you know, people who aren’t super ethical, manipulating elections that way.

LP: It’ll definitely be one to keep an eye on because, you know, as you said, sometimes it is very obvious you know, when someone has six or seven fingers on their hand or whatever that it looks completely obvious? And then yeah, there are other ones that you have to sit there and you go, Oh, I don’t know.

GG: Well, and we all have selection bias, right, we all see things we want to see, we want to believe that that candidate is doing something bad because we don’t like that candidate. Right. And so it becomes easier to believe something, when, when you want it to be true.

LP: Makes sense? So getting into, you know, we’ve talked about a lot about what you’ve reported on and what you’d like to report on. But looking at the other side of that token is, you know, getting you information. And we’d really like to hear about, you know, how do you prefer to be pitch? And how has this changed over the past few years? Are there any best practices for organizations or PR, folks like ourselves that are looking to work with you that, you know, any tips or tricks, and I’m looking forward of, are the resources that you’re looking for the next six to 12 months that you’re like, hey, I really am looking for this.

GG: I mean, my preference to be pitched is still by email, that makes me feel old. I certainly are not to be called or text texted with my, my texts tend to be just personal stuff. So. And, I mean, I used to get pitched a little bit over Twitter X, or whatever it’s called now, but you know, I don’t even use it that much anymore. It seems like it has become not a super great place to hang out. So email is preferred. That said, it’s easy to ignore email. So I don’t know what to say about to PR people about that. I, I, just since I’ve started working this job, in particular, I’ve tried to be better about answering email and say, “Hey, that looks interesting, but I’m not not that’s not something I’m working on right now. Or, hey, maybe in the future, I’ll have a story idea that you guys.” I try to be fairly responsive to email. I mean, I think the best PR people, to me are people who develop a personal relationship with reporters that kind of goes beyond just sending pitches. And I think some of the best PR people I speak of are people who are kind of high touch. You know, hey, what you’re working on yourself, but, you know, who, who, in some cases, I’ve become friends of mine, but it doesn’t always have to be that, that but, but people who know reporters who are covering certain beats that they have, they have people that they can can supply to supply quotes or to, you know, add commentary to stories or whatever. So I think my advice is to be very targeted with with your PR pitches and with your, with your conversations with journalists. Because, you know, nothing was journalist more than getting getting pitches that are really, really, really off topic. Yeah, yeah, getting pitched about it, you know, I don’t have a specific example that I remember, but, like, if I got pitched a story about skin cream, you know, and those kinds of things happen. There have been other examples like that. So, you know, what the journalist know, what the journalist is working on, or what the journal what kind of stories with journalists, what kind of stories a journalist works on and, and I mean, that’s, it’s, and that’s not super easy. That’s, that’s time consuming. So, so it’s not, it’s not always for the faint of heart either.

LP: I mean, that definitely makes sense. And that’s something that we, you know, frequently hear is, you know, really making sure that you’re in tune with the reporter that you’re pitching and their beat so that way yeah, you’re, it’s a two way street that you want to be mindful of their time as much as they’re gonna be mindful of yours. You do the legwork on the back end, and that’s going to help you further build that relationship, as you mentioned, and, you know, have that long relationship between You and that reporter or the order on your SME or whatever the relationship is.

GG: Right, right. Yeah. And I mean, reporters still get on to super off topic, you know, emails and stuff like that, but its gotten maybe a little better in the last couple,

MF: I hope so.

GG: Technology has gotten better.

MF: Isn’t that funny? That is something AI might help with is just reducing, reducing how many mass emails you get that are exactly the same? Maybe it’s helping some people be more personalized in there. It’s like, Hey, can you go look up GG before I pitched him and see, see if this is in line. But, yeah.

GG: The other thing I had mentioned is that I find really helpful and services like, what once was Help a Reporter Out, Quoted now that I use a lot that, especially I’m fairly new in the job, and I’m fairly new covering and a CIO issues. And so I will, you know, say, here’s the story I’m working on, I’m looking for experts, and you’ll get files with people writing back to you some of it on topic, so that not, yes, those things are.

MF: Yeah. So and you mentioned, you know, pitching, getting pitches of, maybe they’re not related, maybe you get a lot that are on exactly the same thing. I’m curious if there’s anything you’ve heard, recently, from any experts, perhaps that were pitched to you, where you had a conversation with an expert or with a source, or with a CIO, that was particularly new or interesting, like anything that really stood out to you lately, whether that’s new trends, that they’re seeing anything, maybe they’re particularly concerned about in the near future. But yeah, just any, anything that stood out to you from an expert perspective?

GG: I’m trying to think of I have thought about this question before and and I’ve had a tough time thinking of something specific. think one of the things that kind of stood out to me lately, and we got a survey about how many people are still using AI organizations and not using an authorized versions of it, and kind of phantom phantom technology, and putting, putting, putting their own company information into these AI, these broad AIs that everybody else is using, and then that type of information gets kind of sent out in the ether, that the numbers don’t shock me all that much. But but it has the potential impact is is to accompany can be fairly, fairly dry. fairly bad. I mean, I mean, I get a lot of pitches about AI products, that looks super interesting. And we don’t write a lot about product stuff. But I mean, people are doing some some fairly incredible things with with with AI tools, and it’ll, as I said, it’ll be interesting to see how that all shakes out. That’s probably not a great answer.

LP: No, I think it was. So, and this kind of goes to Madison’s point of you’ve definitely had to speak with a lot of people over the years, you’ve filed tons of stories. What has been your biggest lesson learned throughout all this, whether it’s come with how you engaged, you know, prospective SMEs, just with your writing just anything, or navigating a newsroom, anything that you’ve, you know, what’s been your biggest take?

GG: Um, yeah, I thought about this kind of from my journalism perspective, but I didn’t really think about this a whole lot from a public relations perspective. I guess. It’s been a you know, as you guys know, it’s been a tough road for journalism for many years now. And I’m kind of around it’s just by sheer stubbornness and luck, I think why I’m still business. So I think what kind of when the personal and the same thing I’ve learned the most is that you have to have a job that like, and don’t do your job because because, you know, it’s gonna pay you a lot of money. If you’re, if you’re, it’s gonna make you miserable. So that’s it. kind of one of my big lessons to learn during my career. You know, from the, from the perspective of journalists looking at the PR industry, I think, you know, I’ve learned over time that that PR people are not the enemy, either they’re, they’re trying to do the job, a job. And this is, like, I’m trying to do a job and, you know, 90s, some 95 plus percent of them are, are, are good actors, right? And, and they’re not trying to trying to feed you bad information or whatever, whatever. I mean, sometimes, these old old journalists tend to think of PR as the enemy. And I don’t think that’s the case at all, it’s just coming at something from different.

MF: Well, definitely glad to hear that. And also, because that’s definitely our goal, at least here is to build those personal relationships that way. Something big for me lately that I’ve been trying to be good about is like having those conversations having those relationships that aren’t just transactional. And it’s, it goes beyond that. Because I think that then it’s a working relationship, and you can feed off of each other, and there’s a lot more that can be built off of that versus just, hey, here’s a report, here’s the findings. Good luck pulling a narrative together out of this, like without us helping you guys out. So Right.

GG: And to be fair, you know, a lot of that feels transactional over the years. You know, I mean, I think a lot of my interactions with PR people is transactions are transactional. Right. But I think the best PR people go beyond it.

MF: Yeah, I know, we’ve covered and just being mindful of time here, we’ve covered a lot about or just now about your kind of biggest lessons learned from a looking to the future perspective, are there any future plans for, that you’re a part of that you could share with our listeners, whether it’s, you know, strategy wise, editorial wise, anything that you’re excited about in the remainder of this year?

GG: It’s interesting, because we have a company, a company called big meeting tomorrow. So if you ask them tomorrow? Yeah, I don’t have a good answer for that. I’m fairly new here. And in. You know, I think strategy here is to try to put out good journalism, and don’t keep keep going keep at it. And I mean, I think, um, I like I did to current version of IDG, because I think they’re focused on on their refocusing on the editorial aspects of their business. And I think that’s a good, good direction.

MF: Great. Well, we will definitely be following up with you to get some more some more information on that after the meeting, of course. But cool, our final question from our listeners was just to get to know you a little bit more. We’d love to hear about what you do outside of work. When you’re not writing when you’re not researching your sources. Is there anything that maybe our listeners don’t know about you that you could share?

GG: Well, let’s see. I play a lot of video games. That way. I played bass guitar and play and that’s Richman regularly. Oh, my are my family’s life right now is really wrapped around my my son, baseball career. He’s a junior in high school, and he’s being recruited to play college baseball. And so we’re baseball tournaments, we’re going to baseball showcases that we’re going all over the country this summer, to have him play baseball and show often for his college status. So that’s fun, and exhausting, and exhilarating, and all that stuff. And the college search, it adds all kinds of complications to the college the college search so it’s fun, but, but it’s work.

LP: That’s awesome. Yeah, I I didn’t play baseball very long. I played in sixth grade, but I had one of my family friends like he was in that same situation of was playing tons of showcases, and you know, having to show off in front of all the different college coaches and yeah, it’s definitely a it’s gonna be a very busy busy summer for you.

GG: Yeah.

LP: But hopefully it takes you to some cool Other places, okay, all warm, maybe a nice little, you know, vacation while you’re out there.

GG: We’re trying. We’re trying to make that happen.

MF: Awesome. Well, I think that wraps up all of our questions today. Thank you so much again, grant for rejoining us on our podcast. And for everyone who wants to hear more about Grant’s background feel free to tune into our last interview with him. But yeah, thank you all for joining in and stay tuned for next time.

Outro: Thank you for joining us on today’s episode of Inside the Media Minds. To learn more about our podcast and hear all of our episodes, please visit us at and follow us on Twitter @MediaMindsShow, and you can subscribe anywhere podcasts are found.