BREAKING: Tech Journalists May Be Overworked, Underpaid

drunk writerWe’ve mentioned former TechCrunch journalist Jason Kincaid a couple of times on this blog in the past. In 2009, TC fell for a Facebook PR prank regarding a fictional “fax this” option, and almost exactly a year ago Kincaid left his main gig to become a PR consultant for startups.

You may be shocked to hear the reason behind the move: in many cases, tech journalists are even more burned out and underpaid than the PRs who pitch them all day.

In September, Kincaid published The Burned-Out Blogger’s Guide to PR, and yesterday Kira Newman reviewed it for the Tech Cocktail blog.

We’ve yet to buy the book ourselves, but it might just be essential reading for both industries.

Some key points from the review:

  • After hearing about “the next big thing” dozens of times a day, one tends to discount such claims and the buzzwords that go along with them.
  • Fake flattery is obvious, so don’t bother connecting to someone on LinkedIn when you really just want them to cover your client.
  • For tech stories, it’s all about exclusives…as long as they’re truly newsworthy. Hyping a “big thing” that isn’t can be just as counterproductive as sending a release to TechCrunch after you send it to The Verge, Digiday, The Next Web, et cetera…

Finally, writers can sometimes be less than polite:

“They live and die for the story…Anything they hear you say is fair game.

Reporters can be tremendous assholes who believe they can invade privacy and shrug empathy because they belong to the high-and-mighty institution of the Press.”

Note that Kincaid is only writing about some of the many bloggers/journalists who cover tech. Most are not jerks, they’re just people who get lots of low-value emails every day and work under intense pressure. We’ll also mention that online harassment of journalists is far too common, even if they don’t cover party politics (here’s a horrifying screenshot from Christina Warren of Mashable, for example).

That’s not to say that tech writers and their PR equivalents should pretend to be best buddies, because that would be kind of weird. But Kincaid’s book might inspire some to recall that we’re all just people with specific jobs to do and that the balance of power between the two parties is not as clear as it may seem.