Just about every week, I regret my decision to leave journalism. Although my bank manager may disagree, few jobs are more fulfilling. Getting paid to write pretty much what you think (as opposed to blogging it for free) has to be one of the greatest pleasures known to man. Writing press releases about Tiger Woods is not.
Being a technology journalist in the UK is even better. Most news announcements are dropped late-afternoon (which is 08.00 Silicon Valley time), US press trips allow for shopping and there are plenty of suppliers willing to loan you the latest smartphones and netbooks. Incredibly, despite this, most of the UK’s fourth estate do not behave as badly as the ultra-contrite System Integrator’s former favourite golfer. Most ask the odd impertinent question, doubt every word of every press release and do a great job keeping the IT buyers of the UK informed about the latest developments in an industry which is vital to this non-manufacturing economy.
Last week however, one of my erstwhile colleagues made me doubt why he and I worked in the same industry. On pitching a perfectly solid customer story, which will shortly appear on a rival (much more widely-seen Website) I was emailed the following:
“We only really talk to execs from the biggest vendors due to their influence.”.
A bad point poorly argued, you might think, but there was more:
“..if something changes at Microsoft, for example, it is going to affect a lot more businesses than if a smaller player does“.
Staggering by this crassness, I briefly wondered if I was corresponding with a writer in the insurance or pension funds market, not the innovation-rich industry I have worked in for two decades. This is the sort of unabashed small-mindedness that presumably ruled at IBM as a fresh-faced Bill Gates left the building with a smile and contract for MSDOS. Lazy thinking like this would have been welcome in the heyday of Enron, Worldcom, or latterly AOL. Thinking like this means Status Quo get medals.
In short, I despaired for the profession I love and wondered how this individual, who for now will remain nameless, gained employment as a hack, a newshound, an uncoverer of scams and trends and well, news. I wondered why someone prepared only to be spoon-fed by companies whose press releases are literally broadcast, would bother to show up at their keyboard each day. Then, I sunk to the depths and realised, that such individuals would not even make PR executives. The horror.
Then it struck me. I realised I had never read a single article by this writer. Now I knew why. So, fortified by this thought, I carried on with my day job, publicising some of the most entrepreneurial, innovative and newsworthy clients in the technology field.