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Tech journalism? Yes!!!

Answer by A Quora admin: Michiel van Blommestein

I’ll try to generalise between working as an editor on a contract (which I did in the past) and as a freelance contributor (which is one of the things I do now). This is hard because being on a contract and freelancing have their own quirks. Also, my experience is that I worked in The Netherlands, so some things might just be typical for that part of the market. Mind you: I have worked for B2B-publications.

– Even compared to main stream journalism, the pay is modest. I started out as an editor for a Dutch tech news site. When I compared wages to other colleagues who just started, they got about 15 percent more than I did, before taxes. One was making as much as I did working for a University magazine, but his contract was part-time. I suspect it goes for other countries as well, as I am now freelancing for a British branch of a tech network, and their pay per word is lower than most of my more mainstream clients

– More so than in other branches of journalism, you get inundated with mails from PR agencies. Tech journalists are dealing with large, closed corporations, and whistle blowing is rare.

Also, you are much more likely to contact PR agencies to get details for your stories, to get a talking head or (if the story is scathing to a certain company, and yes, we do revel in that ;)) to get a response to something that has happened. Core of the job is to resist the urge to take the easy road and just write the story the PR people want you to write.

– Each company has its own reputation among tech journalists as being cooperative or uncooperative in dealing with the press. Apple for example is a butt of many jokes among tech journalists about how anally retentive their PR policy is and how non-responsive they are to journalist queries, even on things that are hardly a secret.

– The best part of the job is that you get to attend trade shows, often in far away places. They tend to be quite intense, but ultimately rewarding as you get the chance to talk with insiders and analysts you would normally have little access to. Rare exceptions aside, these trips are usually paid for by the organizers, which is a weak point in tech journalism. Most tech journalists I know do take themselves sufficiently serious in order not to let this cloud their judgment though.

– Sometimes, companies try to use the trip to ‘buy’ you though, and on occasion they’ll try to bribe you with some sort of goodies (luckily, most serious publications have strict guidelines on that kind of things). It is a sad reality though that a negative article or even a ‘premature’ scoop (in the eyes of the vendor) can bar you from attending the next few events. Which, by the way, tech journalists brag about amongst themselves.

– During normal office days, it all depends on the amount of news on how hectic it becomes. The less breaking news there is, the more hectic it becomes: Sites and magazines need to be filled no matter what, and the news you do get on slow days comes from hearsay or dubious sources. That means more vetting and more calling before you publish something, and even then it usually has less meat on its bones.

– In the end, you are covering a niche which most colleagues from more general media would not touch with a ten-foot pole. It can become very tempting to show an arrogant smirk when you read a tech related piece in a general publication on how shallow or full of mistakes it is.

What’s life in general like working in tech journalism?

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