Tech journalism has become tedious product journalism where printing the spec sheets for mass produced consumer products is celebrated as a great story and where there appears to be little understanding of bigger picture stories about how our digital technologies are transforming our industries, cities, and our societies, at a pace and scale that’s never been seen in our history.
While tech companies, including Intel and Apple, are partly to blame for the rise of product journalism, because their news releases are essentially product spec sheets, there’s also another factor at work. The impact of digital technologies on the media industry is causing a massive disruption in its business models.
While I was at TechCrunch Disrupt last week, I spoke to a ton of interesting companies (from all over the world) who were doing cool things with technology. As I browsed through e-commerce apps from Peru, I wondered what it would be like to cover this sector. If you go to the author pages of major online tech publications, you’ll see the kinds of stories an individual has to cover.
I was bummed. Who wants to deal with the subject of technology in this way? Who wants to deal with any story that way?
The problem goes beyond product journalism though. In cases where journalists or columnists do take a stand, it is on topics too lazy to even comprehend taking a stand on. If it isn’t a doomsday prediction for a company, it is a light understanding of the laws concerning tech issues or a weakly framed argument that will help attract fan boys from all sorts of tech camps to drive conversation on awful topics.
Tech personalities who raged against this laziness now actively participate in it.
And yet, it feels like the same thing we’ve talked about in a lot of areas of journalism: how do you change it? Is there a market for a more thoughtful tech media outlet? And if so, who can help bring it to market (or transform one of the existing publications)? I have to believe that one well-funded tech outlet that does things the right way would help raise the bar a bit.