I’ve been discussing this with fellow journalists, entrepreneurs and some of my VC friends over the past year– how the mainstream media has discovered startups and lapped up every little thing that they do as front page news. They have good reason to do that- after all gobs of investor money has gone into consumer internet companies, how do you ignore the gold rush? I really can’t be griping about this considering I’ve written so many of those stories myself, but now is the time to start asking some tough questions to these same startups.
Over the past few months, I’ve noticed the bigger and well-funded startups have been feeding journalists only things that they want to and gotten away with more favourable pieces than critical ones.
I started reporting on this space (consumer tech) sometime in 2010-11, I remember fund raise stories involving Myntra, Flipkart and others would go at best as a single column. I’d explain to people that these folks will become billion-dollar companies sooner than what we think they will. And it did not take long for that to happen. However, the fun was in pushing for those stories then and not now.
I’d think what’s happening now is that entrepreneurs— big and small–have realised that startups are getting phenomenal space in media and they are smart to take advantage of this boosterish phase.
It’s still great to celebrate that budding startup, break that big scoop on a billion dollar fund raise, but I hope this year we also see a few breakthrough and hard hitting pieces on this new breed of companies. I realise a lot of reporters want to do these kind of stories but then the pressure of a newsroom is not easy to deal with, what if you miss that big fund raise news? There’s increasing competition with so many publications starting to cover this sector but then somewhere we as journalists need to put things into perspective. I face this dilemma everyday..
People in the ecosystem tell me the honeymoon period will end once the funding bubble bursts but I say why wait for that to happen?
Let me know what you think…happy new year everyone!