Good morning, it's Tuesday and we might have a vaccine from Pfizer who's early vaccine trials have shown great promise, and as a result we saw some interesting movements in the market (Air Lines ⬆️, Zoom ⬇️). Last week, there was a news story released that ticked me off quite a bit so I thought I'd use this week's column to talk about the state of Indian tech journalism and my thoughts on it.
➡️ Last week, Inc42 decided to release the list of the Indian companies who have made it to the latest batch of Y Combinator- the popular Silicon Valley Accelerator. This is notable because the program starts in January of 2021 and companies are still interviewing to be a part of the batch (the list also doesn't include several companies who have gotten through and haven't yet disclosed their participation).
➡️ In my 4 years of following YC companies I have never seen a news publication release a list of participating companies before the program has even started, and most publications wait until YC's Demo Day to do so (there are always a couple of companies who often have already broken out who decide to announce their story before Demo Day). It's also a terrible thing for the founders as they don't get to control the narrative of the first time they're being announced in the media as Inc42 has beaten them to the punch. And moreover, it has the potential to distract both them and other YC interviewees (who are now even more anxious about their own interviews).
➡️ In India we also seem to put YC companies at a high pedestal and some these companies are currently not ready to announce themselves in the public eye, which the publication has ruined for them. But in a time where very few Indian tech publications are admired and respected, I don't think this comes as a huge surprise.
➡️ The larger Indian Tech journalism landscape can be separated into a couple of different segments. On one end you have the Ken & Morning Context- paid subscription driven high quality stories on Indian startups and businesses. And as much as I dislike some of the Ken's stories, I would never say that they lack journalistic integrity and that they actually spend a lot of time researching their stories & building a narrative around it. Then you have the Startup sections of the mainstream India & global publications- The Economic Times has ET Tech, and Forbes India & Mint also report on startup news. And lastly you have the startup-only publications namely Entrackr, Inc42 & YourStory.
➡️ The news reported by the latter 2 segments is roughly the same and largely is centered around funding announcements of companies without much context on the companies and the business itself. I think a couple of publications do a really good job of being the first to report an announcement in India- I've usually seen it to be ET, Entrackr or TechCrunch. While I think it's quite evident how the other publications decide what to write about.
➡️ I think the problem that I personally see with some of these publications is that I don't see what the value in a lot of their reporting. If all your stories just about every single startup raising capital, does it even make sense to be an independent publication vs being part of a larger media organization? Even in America, a lot of the tech publications are now owned by larger media orgs- The Verge & Recode (Vox), TechCrunch (Verizon Media).
➡️ I also can't name a terrible amount of stories or journalists from these publications who's stories I still remember to this date- the only ones I can recall are probably the ones by Ashish K Mishra (Ex-Mint & Currently The Morning Context), Rohin Dharmakumar (Ex-Forbes India & Currently The Ken), Pankaj Mishra (Factor Daily) and Samidha Sharma (The Economic Times).
➡️ Covering funding announcements & uncovering scoops will always be important in the startup world, but I am becoming increasingly skeptical of the future of Indian tech publications where the stories aren't adding any value to their readers. Who knows what the future of Indian tech journalism really looks like, I'm just glad we're getting more people who aren't journalists and understand these startups writing about the space more.
Feedback & ❤️ always appreciated BONUS (Tweet of the day): https://twitter.com/kunalb11/status/1325658590800089090
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