We cannot understand the future, if we don't understand the past. That's why Jessica Lessin, Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Information is up on stage with two heavyweights of tech journalism, John Markoff, Senior Writer of the New York Times and Steven Levy, Senior Staff Writer of Wired to talk about the transformations of tech journalism within the last 20 years.
"Everything is different but everything is also the same", John Markoff tells us. "In the beginning, we were all hobbiest, but it feels actually similar to things that are going on today in some ways." Steven Levy adds, that back in the day, it was a smaller community. You would put your telephone number under an article. People relied on each other. And then, during the 80s there was a huge boom and people realized there's money in it. But essentially it wasn't much different.
However, the audience has changed. It was much more vertical, today the field is not a niche anymore. "It is very confusing to figure out who is our audience today. However, it seems to work writing with the same audience in mind than 20 years ago", John points out.
Have metrics changed?
Being the first one is still not the only metric that matters. It's worth to develop long-term relationships and do in-depth reporting to provide more details and background information. There's certainly an opposed trend to just repost news calling it 'curating' or 'framing' content. Search engines could pay more attention to where the original story came from. There could be technological solutions for this.
"When we started", Steven notes another change, "there were no PR people around. You would just go and talk to Bill Gates." These days you have to speak with a PR person scribbling everything down you are saying for a 19-year old startup founder.
Regarding the development of tech, the panelists agree there are important new developments that are partly being covered like AI, sensors everywhere, mobile access from gadget to NSA surveillance, but what is missing is connecting the dots.
Steven refers to William Gibson to wrap it up: "The future is here, it's just not being evenly distributed."