What has gone so wrong with European technology journalism? Milo Yiannopoulos bemoans the lack of gifted writers turning their hands to technology.
This post originally appeared on our Editor-in-Chief’s personal blog: it was the first step toward the creation of The Kernel. We are reprinting it here for posterity, but please note some details are now out of date.
Because the emerging technology industry is small, there’s a shortage of brilliant, opinionated writers with the wit and intelligence to make people smile, and, more importantly, think. The ones who are out there, for whatever reason, are not getting jobs. Instead, we have a glut of rather embarrassingly illiterate bloggers who, in their competitiveness for pageviews, feel pressurised into churning out rewrites of press releases and other people’s posts, occasionally over-reaching themselves to pen opinion pieces.
Start-ups have become conditioned to this cult of the mediocre, but it’s time to snap them out of it. Entrepreneurs who aspire to refashion the world around them deserve writing just as audacious and thought-provoking as their own ambitions. Unfortunately, as the technology sector in Europe has expanded, the quality of commentary around it has failed to keep up.
Depressing, isn’t it. Where are the columnists, the brave iconoclasts? The people who can make insightful links between technology and other disciplines, draw distinctions, see revealing connections? Why aren’t they being given platforms? And who is providing founders and venture capitalists themselves with a platform to share their expertise in pieces whose appeal reaches beyond the tech blogosphere? (Such an endeavour admittedly requires a patient editor. I’ve tried to do it once before, and it went down exceedingly well, but it was for a one-off project.)
Where, too, are the sketch-writers, the gossip columnists, the people writing about the people, places and events that shape the headlines? Fundamentally, people are interested in people, and we don’t hear nearly enough about the faces behind the technology that is so rapidly changing our world.
One of the reasons I’ve been writing slightly frivolous features recently is that I had wrongly concluded that there was no appetite for anything better. But when I put my mind to it, I know more than enough articulate, intellectually curious people who would devour more thoughtful pieces. Plenty of VCs would too. But, at present, almost everything these guys read and enjoy, beyond the basic task of keeping abreast of what’s going on in their local market, is from America.
What do we do about all this? Well, first, I’m signing up to write more, better content myself, for a variety of new places. I’ll share these new gigs with you as and when I can. An immediate consequence for me is fewer catfights on Twitter and more time spent thinking and writing – a development that is sure to come as welcome news to everyone I know!
Second, I’ve been toying with the idea of starting something of my own for a long time. The sticking point, predictably, has been the economics. But while I’m toying with business plans, working out what, if any, of this kind of content can make money, there’s a blossoming technology scene urgently in want of compelling magazine and broadsheet quality writing. Perhaps obviously, I don’t think anyone else out there is getting it right.
That’s why I’m about to embark upon the mother of all soft launches: I’ve no idea what it might eventually become, but the new publication I’m about to flip the switch on will showcase only the very brightest and best original writing, particularly from entrepreneurs themselves, but also from journalists, academics and big thinkers looking to share fresh ideas: visionaries who want to inspire, educate, enrage and amuse others with their experiences, opinons and insights. People who can place what’s going on in technology in a much broader context. This is your opportunity to articulate a vision of the future at length and to people outside the technology world.
The economics can wait. I’m primarily interested in the editorial content right now. What I do know is that we will include fewer but better pieces from anyone who chooses to contribute. I’ll be happy to publish as little as two pieces a week to start off with. But they will be two pieces you will not want to miss.
We don’t care who you are, only that you can write well and that you have something interesting to say. Everyone who writes for us, including me, will be free to write wherever else they like: I’ll continue to share amusing gossip, call out the charlatans and generally fight from the entrepreneurs’ corner in my columns for other people. This new site is a place for longer, more academic writing. And, yeah, OK, the occasional bit of frothier stuff too.
We’ll be there for you when you have a weightier piece that other websites, who want to chop up your paragraphs and dumb down your arguments, decline to step up. Submissions will be edited by someone who not only understands your subject area, but is also a gifted and judicious wordsmith in their own right.
New contributors will normally be unpaid. We want these ideas to spread, and our writers’ contributions to be read as widely as possible, so most of our content will be free to read and indexable on the web. (I’ve seen what Paul Carr is doing and that’s not what we’re about.)
We will, however, experiment aggressively with ways to financially reward our writers. We may, for example, have subscription-only premium content or one-off article fees for the really thrilling stuff – such as our Special Reports, the first of which will be a comprehensive survey of the European tech PR industry.
There will be no pageview-chasing; no annoying multi-page articles. Our only target will be excellence and originality in quality of thought and writing. We will have a mix of regular columnists and guest writers, and we will aim to become the destination for intelligent – initially European – commentary about the way in which technology is changing our lives, run by a crack team of the sharpest young writers and thinkers around. (I’ll be sharing the names on our editorial and tech team in the coming days.) I see this as complimentary to, rather than in competition with, current players.
This is the technology industry explored, celebrated – and sometimes, yes, debunked – for those who work in it, but perhaps more crucially, for everyone else too. This is the sassiest, smartest and most compelling content to explain why all this tech stuff matters, presented as a gorgeous online magazine. The Vanity Fair of European tech. So: who’s with me?