A New Year's resolution for tech journalists

Here's a New Year's resolution I'd like to see made, and kept, by all tech journalists:

Report first, then think, then write. Don't skip the first two steps, and don't get them out of order.

Computer, networking and mobile technology is changing all of human society. Journalism about tech is important. But tech journalism today is a vast wasteland of plagiarism, rumormongering, empty snark, fanboiism, trolling, unfounded assumptions and whole-cloth invention.

It's damned hard to find any actual reporting. Actual facts, when they are to be found, usually from PR handouts and spec sheets. That's not journalism. It's churnalism.

These failures are not unique to tech journalism, of course. Mainstream journalism, especially cable TV news, falls into the same traps. But you should have learned by third grade that "everybody else does it" is no excuse.


I generally follow these rules in my main freelance gigs writing about telecommunications and computer technologies. I work for titles targeting trade and business audiences, so my readers aren't looking for colour (we use UK spellings here in New Zealand). This approach has served me well. However, I suspect the competitive pressure to score eyeballs among the hundreds or thousands of on-line tech news outlets targeting consumers and individual users means editors and publishers DEMAND the kind of intellectual wasteland you worry about. While some journalists can take responsibility for they way they approach their job, I see publishers as the guilty party here. And in some cases we are talking about publishers working for some of the largest and best-known media empires.