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.