The Rush To Publish

“academics: yes, let’s meet in 7 months and 6 days, at 2:08 PM ¶ journalists: hi can you comment for this article, it’s due in 47 seconds. also i’ve left you seven voicemails” – @eveewing, a sociologist of education and a writer from Chicago.

  • I know Dr. Ewing is not referring to startup media in particular, but the last-minute nature of most press interactions is especially pronounced in the end of the media pool I currently occupy.
  • The prisoners’ dilemma between startup/venture PR and the press results in stressed-out reporters and dissatisfied founders, who wish that writers would do more than just crib quotes from press releases.
  • This last-minute rush to coverage would be entirely ameliorated by just seeding embargoed information with decent, ethical reporters ahead of time. The problem is, there’s so much incentive to break embargo and publish first, so PR reaches out on short notice. This is a huge, huge problem in startup finance reporting. I wouldn’t reach out at the last second, requesting comment, if information wasn’t disbursed at the last minute.
  • In this context, I totally understand why founders and their PR representatives would want to focus their attention on more asynchronous forms of media, like podcasts or long-form profile-type coverage. I wouldn’t reach out to news reporters either.
  • Also, when I have my journalism hat on, founders either want to exploit me for access to an audience, or fear me because I have insider information. (I don’t disclose sources or methods.) It’s not a healthy relationship for anyone involved. For the record, this is one of the primary reasons I don’t really like journalism as a profession.
  • It’s, like, the better I get at my day job the less relatable I become to the folks I feel most comfortable around. I suppose venture investors with prior founding experience have similar feelings about the founders they interact with. But y’all are already accredited, just sayin’.
  • This doesn’t even get me to the problems with breaking news using open data sources like SEC filings. At the point a filing drops into the public domain, we’re in a Hobbesian state of nature. But that’s probably a note for a later day.

Author: Jason D. Rowley

As I mentioned elsewhere, I wear a lot of hats. Currently, I'm interested in VC data, early stage startups, and journalism. Previously I've been a blogger, designer, researcher, startup founder, (temporary) college dropout, connector, occasional branding designer and amateur chef.

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