Kara Swisher of re/code, Alexia Tsotsis of TechCrunch, Jemima Kiss of The Guardian and Martin Bryant of The Next Web sat down to discuss the topic and came to two big conclusions:
- Because tech journalists are terrible
- Because Snowden did not release the documents to a tech journalist
While their second conclusion was seemingly obvious, the conversation turned to a deeper issue – how the PRISM story affected tech journalism as a whole and how it’s likely to change.
The fact is, the vast majority of tech publications are not equipped to break this type of news. Most tech journalists are not trained in/have experience in investigative journalism at the national security level and the protocols needed to do it safely – not to mention these publications do not have staff to even cover the beat. They are also not prepared (or want to) shoulder the burden of upsetting the government to facilitate change. (Glenn Greenwald left the US and now constantly carries a backpack with the documents on USB.)
In fact, also here at SXSW, Julian Assange said national security reporters are “a new kind of refugee,” making a case for a new golden age of national security reporting.
But they all conceded that their job has been to be cheerleaders of the tech industry and their readers come for that news – whether it’s funding, new products and apps, intercompany memos, etc. – and since the PRISM story, they have been thinking more about unearthing news that can truly affect change.
While it might not be national security news – where they will likely remain unequipped to cover – it may be in the form of more hard-hitting, critical coverage of the companies they watch.
Keep an eye out…