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Tech journalist will be the most demanded profession in 2014

14 December 2013 / 00:12:59  GRReporter
7363 reads

Ivan Petkov

I have a special attitude towards tech news websites, which was formed as a result of some circumstances in my life. In the late 1990s, when I had no computer and smartphone, the only way to be informed about what was happening in the world of technology was through specialised newspapers and magazines which I would buy regularly and follow with great pleasure and passion. So, I had piles of paper that I had to submit for recycling if I did not want to be buried by them. At one point, I got a PC and my passion for print editions faded over time, but not because I had replaced them with electronic ones. I had to graduate, find a job and life problems took me in a direction in which I did not have the time and desire to follow news.

7-8 years ago, I still had only my old computer and a telephone, one of the cheapest models, but it had perfectly met my only requirement, namely that the battery charge should last for at least a week. The smartphones that had appeared seemed to me as expensive toys, I had no TV, I was not interested in any tech gadgets. At that time, I had to replace my old computer and it turned out that I needed help from friends, because I was not abreast of technological developments. I made an account on popular tech forums and, a little later, I found the already nonexistent Google Reader, through which I made my own stream of news. So, gradually and imperceptibly, I started to select my favourite tech websites and the pleasure of following tech news had returned.

Today I cannot imagine what I would do without the smartphone in my pocket, which I usually use to synchronize calendars, notes, events, thus turning it into my personal assistant. The reason for this is largely due to articles and tips that I have found in the tech media.

The wave of the mobile revolution that began in 2007 swept me away, along with millions of other people, throughout the world, and the tech media were the main barometer by which I measured what was happening. At first, the speed was not very high and the information about what was happening all over the world was late in reaching the Balkans. At that time, you could obtain a new and modern mobile widget only if someone had brought it to you from abroad. Otherwise, we had to wait for months until it was available through the official channels. At that time, tech media were again the only source of information, photos, videos, reviews, discussions and rumours... They were a way to make us at least slightly aware of the latest developments in the industry that were promising to change our perception of the World Wide Web, to communicate with one another and share content, and all this while we are on the move.

Why are tech media and news so important? It is because technology has intertwined with our way of life, thus creating a specific style. Believe it or not, today you can give a woman a tablet or smartphone and she will be so happy as if you are giving her one of the traditional gifts. Something that was not so likely a few years ago. The fair sex has begun to perceive the tech gadgets not only as a sign of social status but also as useful and practical things that help them in everyday life. And here I see the result of the activity of the tech media that have successfully reached and entered ordinary people’s lives, thus becoming part of it. In this way, they have changed the attitude of the general public towards the world of high technology and have turned the mobile gadgets into some of the most preferred gifts.

On the other hand, these media usually follow the development of some of the most profitable companies in the world today. The way they do this, the image they create is of great importance for the companies themselves. Tech media overseas are becoming increasingly important. Vala Afshar, who is considered one of the pioneers in cloud technology, customer relationships management (CRM) and corporate intelligence, has shared on Twitter that the creation of content related to the new technologies will be among the five most important marketing skills in 2014. Moreover, the journalistic skill in terms of reflecting the technological developments, analyzing trends and presenting interesting information from the world of technology will be the most important of these five skills.

I think that he is totally right. When some time ago Oprah Winfrey appeared with the current iPhone on her show, smartphone sales hit the highest levels. Of course, not every journalist or media are so influential but it is undeniable that media influence sales.

Here is my personal list of U.S. online media, which I think are some of the best in the world:

C|NET

An American tech media, publishing articles, news, reviews, blogs and podcasts associated with consumer electronics. The media was established back in 1994 and it is a true veteran in the world of tech news. Currently it is owned by CBS Interactive and is associated with the software catalogue download.com

ZDNet

This is a business and tech website, founded in 1991. It is part of CNET Networks and is owned by CBS Interactive. It has focused on business tech news and it has divisions worldwide.

Mashable

This tech website offers news about social media, technology and web culture. It is not necessary to be an expert to understand or enjoy the content offered by the website. You can find reviews, articles and a lot of web-related and other technology news.

Wired

Wired is a monthly American magazine that has an online edition, Wired.com. The topics covered by it are related to the impact of technology on culture, economy and politics. The content also features news about design, science and tech gadgets. It is owned by the publishing conglomerate Condé Nast Publications and published in San Francisco, California.

Engadget

Engadget is a multilingual technology blog network that offers daily news about mobile gadgets and consumer electronics. In its development, the form of the website is getting closer to that of an online magazine. The website is considered as one of the best tech blogs. It is owned by AOL.

Lifehacker and Gizmodo

I am presenting these two blogs together not only because they have a common owner in the face of Gawker Media but also because they perfectly complement each other in my opinion. Lifehacker covers topics mainly related to software and lifestyle, often presenting articles taken from Gizmodo when it comes to tech gadgets. Gizmodo gained great popularity in 2010 when a scandal broke out in connection with the loss of the iPhone prototype in a bar. The phone had fallen into the hands of Gizmodo’s editors. We know how sensitive Apple is regarding the protection of all details relating to iPhone.

The Verge

It is an American tech and news media network operated by Vox Media. Although it started operating in 2011, it has managed to gain popularity and to establish itself. The media offers news, product reviews, podcasts, broadcasts and an entertainment show.

The Next Web

This blog offers tech news and covers all topics related to new technologies, business news and tech culture as well as news related to the latest tech gadgets.

Digital trends

The website has set the goal of building up your lifestyle, of course, with the help of tech news and mobile computer technologies, gaming devices, home theatre equipment and more. It contains information about cars, music and photography.

NY Times' Bits Blog

It is a blog to one of the most popular newspapers covering news related to start-up companies, tech leaders like Apple and Google, corporate news, government initiatives in the field of high technology and everything related to how the Internet is changing the way we are living and working.

CNN.com Tech

This is a place for tech news without specialised and complex terminology where technology meets the life of the ordinary reader. Its content presents in plain language a wide range of topics related to computers, innovative technologies and the Internet.
 
I do not claim that the list presented above is finished and complete. It only raises the curtain to a world which, as is clear, will become even more important in our lives next year. It is clear that the items of tech news are taking leading positions and media that we mostly relate to social and political news are starting to present them.

I will briefly introduce you to two popular journalists. One of them is known for his publications in specialised editions and has his own successful tech blog and the other is writing and making reports for a large media that is not specialised in tech news. I will present them through their own interesting and topical publications.

Tom Foremski



In 2004, Tom Foremski was the first journalist to leave a major newspaper, namely the Financial Times, to start living as a blogger and freelance journalist. He launched the popular blog Silicon Valley Watcher, which analyzes and covers the rapid development in the high-tech valley.

In one of his recent publications, Tom deals with the commercialisation of social media and with the fact that Facebook and Google are tending to sell traffic to company pages within the respective social network. When money buys traffic, user experience is of poor quality and very mediocre, as concluded by the journalist. It is interesting to note the prediction that the World Wide Web, as we know it, built of multiple pages, is gradually disappearing. The content carried by social media and mobile applications is changing the nature of the Internet due to the expansion of mobile technology in the face of smartphones and tablets.

Dan Simon

A CNN correspondent in the Silicon Valley, Dan Simon aims to inform CNN viewers and readers on the latest developments in the field of technology. Dan began his career as a freelance journalist and then subsequently joined CNN and has been its correspondent in San Francisco for five years already. In 2011, he turned to tech news.

Here Dan Simon talks about Amazon's plans to use flying drones for delivery to its customers. The publication, in addition to the technological dimensions and innovative thinking, makes us think about the displacement of people by robots, a fear we have faced mainly in fantasy novels and films.

The dark side of tech media

I have previously mentioned that the journalists and the media that cover tech news have the power of influencing the interests of consumers and, respectively, the sales of the products they write about.

The companies producing tech gadgets clearly understand this, which makes the relationship between them and journalists, let us say... interesting.

Did you know that Apple maintains a media "black list," a list of journalists who are "shunned", "ignored" and punished for being disloyal to the brand? The journalists and media on the "black list" do not have access to information, products and events of the American giant.

"Once you are on the list it is almost impossible to get off it (I have been on it for more than a decade)," writes Mike Elgan from 9to5Mac. Note that 9to5Mac is a media that covers mainly Apple products and events.

Elgan writes in a lengthy article about how the black list "works" and why.

Some articles about Apple are related to human rights and environmental issues, things that people want to know. The easiest way to be blacklisted by the company is by writing about any of these topical issues, as stated by Elgan.

In the majority of the cases, one enters this list through a combination of criticism, cynicism or by covering specific topics and breaking specific rules, including the ban on live streaming at some of the company events. Criticizing Steve Jobs or Apple’s history, culture and products will ensure lifelong inclusion on the list. Being speculative or writing with too much certainty about Apple rumours is not recommended either. Apple is much crueler to tech media because they influence the mainstream media that are more easily controlled.

How does Apple punish the media groups? It just rewards their competitors. The same thing happened when The New York Times published a series of reports, revealing the working conditions in the factories producing their products. Apple responded to this by allowing The Wall Street Journal to conduct an exclusive interview with company's CEO Tim Cook.

Another way to deal with the problem is by constantly giving early access to products to all pro-Apple journalists. The worst consequence of the blacklisting by Apple is that it is leading to self-censorship among the not so popular bloggers, writers and editors. If a young person wants to have a career in tech journalism and to take advantage of greater access to information from Apple, it would be better for this person to write mainly positive articles about Apple and to avoid writing negative ones. Greater access brings good news and this paves the way for a better career.

The difference between "black" and "white" journalism is small. Those who have been blacklisted can read the publications by those who enjoy Apple’s approval. "Of course, we do not receive test products and exclusive interviews from the bosses, but we still read the same information," says Elgan. It is important to note that the majority of the journalists on the "white list" are not actually corrupt or unethical. Most of them just like writing positive things about Apple or they simply have not had an occasion to criticize the company, which does not mean that they are lying, as a strategy, or that they are resorting to self-censorship.

Similar is the situation with Microsoft, which has folders containing information about the interests, priorities and preferences of some journalists. Journalists say that the company is often aware of their preferences in terms of reviews and invites them to write reviews in compliance with them.

According to Elgan, Google is an exception. "If you criticize Apple harshly, the company will never reply to your e-mails for the rest of your career. But if you criticize Google harshly, and request a Nexus 5 review unit the next day, they will cheerfully overnight it to you like you never said anything."

Is it interesting to follow and cover new technologies? The answer for me is only positive. Every morning I look through the innovations that my favourite online tech editions have collected and published. As you can see, often it is not easy. And bearing in mind the increasing influence that technology has on every sphere of our lives, the role of the media that present the world of technology will continue to grow.

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