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Last week, the Huffington Post won the first Pulitzer Prize given to an online news service for investigative journalism into the lives of veterans returning from war. The New York Times won Pulitzers for journalism of racial profiling in New York City or profiles of conflict in East Africa. We are missing the same level of journalism in technology.

I’ll be the first to admit that the gravity of the situations winning Pulitzers aren’t often touched by technology. But it’s inevitable that technology will become a cornerstone to Pulitzer Prize winning journalism in the next ten years. Investigations into broad personal privacy breaches including the equivalent of wiretapping (imagine Woodward and Berstein’s Watergate in 2012) or the booming business of corporate/government espionage will be those prize-winners. At the moment, most publications aren’t focused on providing this level of journalism.

Make no mistake, there are great sources for analysis. Asymco performs deep inspection of mobile market trends. Hacker News forums provide some critique of technology standards and platforms. BetaBeat covers the New York tech scene with an attitude. And Daring Fireball provides a running commentary on the Apple ecosystem. Of course, Twitter is a loose editor/curator. But all this content is in a thousand different places written in millions of different voices without clear commitments to journalistic integrity, fair characterizations or pursuit of the closest thing to the truth.

I’ve been readingthe The Economist and the New Yorker for years. Recently, I’ve been introduced to The Week, a very different kind of publication.  (The iPad edition is currently free and is well worth reading.)

The Week is a weekly magazine which summarizes the major events of the world by relying on the journalism of others but it is edited superbly. It is set apart by its analysis of the different positions taken by the media on a particular stance. Take for example the current top story, “The ‘Reprehensible Photos of US Troops Posing with with Afghan Corpses.” The Week has highlighted the three best analyses (the NYTimes, a blog called the EmptyWheel and the National Review) linked to them, and compared and contrasted their analyses, giving readers a deeper and broader understanding of the issue and a context for the voices making arguments.

We need a forum like this for technology. We need an editor whose goal is to elucidate and enlighten. We need a place where true journalism about issues and forces in technology can be celebrated. I’m not certain who will provide it, what the forum will look like, or when it will come. But I’m certain we need it.

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7 thoughts on “What we need in tech journalism

  1. Pingback: What we need in tech journalism « ex post facto | Brand Journalism: A Practical Guide to a New Medium

  2. Hi Tom,

    It seems like you are looking for one person (or a set of persons) to curate and provide context around technology topics on a weekly basis in a digestible format, sort of how The Economist does it? Perhaps it would be The Technologist?

    I definitely agree in your assessment of the problem, was hoping to dig into what a solution may be from your vantage point.

  3. Hi Tom…so, assume someone finds the right editor-in-chief and that person assembles a great cabinet to overlook software, hardware, and other big broad areas — assume the team is in place. Do you envision this being what The Economist is for business executives, geared toward those in high-technology but accessible to an educated audience broadly? Also, what format is this delivered in? So much of what makes The Economist durable is that you can pay a lot to get it in your hand and read it on the plane when uninterrupted.

    • Hi Semil, yes, I think the analogy with the Economist holds. They are generating about $75M annually in subscription revenue. Ideally it would be a web/tablet publication only. And it would be a subscription service which would have the feature, longer form content behind a subscription, and the shorter blurbs free.

      What do you think about the go-to-market?

  4. You’re asking a lot. Not only are we nowhere near that level of journalism in tech, we have plenty of “tech reporters” that don’t even understand the technology they report on. Watching TechCrunch Disrupt, I saw the hosts lack comprehension of middleware. Middleware may not be exciting (not sure I would take on a client like that if I couldn’t find an exciting angle) but a tech reporter that watched an entire presentation on a middleware startup should be able to explain what it does. Given, I practiced law and worked at several startups on the tech and on the client-management sides but you shouldn’t need that much experience to understand middleware.

    • I am asking a lot. And I wish I had the time to start something along the lines of what I suggest. At this point, I can only say that I’m willing to pay for such a service.

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