One Tech Journalist’s Mission Statement

The day I was asked what motivates me and I didn’t have an answer

A few months ago I took an hour long call with an entrepreneur and angel investor. The call had no specific agenda, but is the kind of thing I try to do as a way of establishing sources and for background on future stories. In fact, the angel investor was doing that slightly annoying thing of calling from his car during the long commute home.

We discussed a range of topics, from how he became an angel investor, how he was going to make a decent chunk of money, the startups and entrepreneurs he was bullish about (and those he wasn’t), and industry contacts we shared in common.

However, the part of our conversation I remember the most was when he suddenly turned the tables and asked: “What motivates you, Steve?”.

Disconcertingly, I didn’t have an imediate answer. The tech blogging treadmill is often just that: a treadmill. Unless you take a moment to step off it, you never slow down enough for much introspection. It had already been a few years since I had failed at startup life and returned to writing for TechCrunch almost full time.

“I don’t really have one,” I said. “In the big scheme of things, I don’t really care too much,” before adding rather flippantly that, unlike him, I didn’t have (financial) skin in the game.

I was lying, of course. On most days, I care deeply about the work I do and the subjects of my writing. I also strive to make my latest pool of work some of the best I’ve produced and always know I can improve.

But at the time of our call, I was more acutely aware than ever that there are often more important things than the technology industry and news cycle, and work as a whole, such as falling in love, friends and family, and fighting the terrible things the U.K. government is doing to disabled people.

Then just the other day, I tapped a usually helpful source for information on a recently dead-pooled startup that was making headlines.

“To be honest, I feel sorry for them and the press is brutal so not keen to participate,” the source replied.

I was surprised as I always try to be fair not brutal in my reporting. Besides, integrity is the only currency I trade in as a journalist. Lose it and I’m spent.

But it got me thinking again about that phone call with the angel investor and the question he asked about what motivates me.

And then I remembered that a while back I had in fact crafted a personal mission statement regarding the work I do as a journalist, but until now had never written it down:

To shine a light on the important tech stories, startups, products and topics of the day. And, in doing so, strive to make the European tech industry a little more open and accountable.

Admittedly, I don’t always achieve that mission but it’s a good reminder of why I do what I do. (Aside from making rent of course. As I get older I realise that making rent is kind of a big deal.)

As always, I welcome your feedback.

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