Time and time again, it’s the same ol’ story.
A white man has a dream, investors support that dream, propel them to new heights, the press jumps in for the dance, and then either we all ride the rays into the sun or melt from getting too close. There have been so many busts, winters, and bears from these recurring events that it starts to feel like a requirement for the game. If anything, it makes for a good story.
When I started out in business and tech reporting, I realized quickly that there was a lack of intersectionality in coverage. I’m not talking about 2020, when every publication started backtracking to highlight minority communities. I mean that the natural way of business and technology reporting is generalized for the white understanding. Diversity is a separate article, if not separate expertise.
Diverse perspectives are rarely legitimized as sources for topics other than diversity, and said communities are often reported on once a year — or once a tragedy. It’s never routine, never guaranteed. This produces work without nuance, far from being as intersectional as the actual business and tech audiences are. Such reporting is more than just the numbers and the latest gear; rather, it’s the regular awareness of the past, present, and future of how classism, racism, and gender discrimination have economically intersected to shape the world we live in today.
This often means more scrutiny, more challenges, and more asking hard questions. It’s asking the top names at those big venture firms those big questions while they sit on on those big stages for their quarterly diversity investment reports. It’s covering Miami’s crypto boom alongside the increased housing challenges that result from it. It’s thinking more critically and doing more work; it is understanding how redlining in Silicon Valley contributes to an opportunity gap for aspiring Black entrepreneurs and connecting how a new era of startups could service the needs of the historically overlooked.
It’s more stories from the depths of #BlackTechTwitter. It’s the idea that business and tech verticals should look as intersectional as the audience they want reading them. Reporters need to be doing more work.
Next year, I want to see the hiring and retention of diverse staff reporters — and I don’t mean just white women — who are then given platforms to not only cover the news of business and tech but also give opinions and analysis. The key here is putting these reporters on staff and granting them the same rights, opportunities, and privileges as white business reporters. This is not just for the sake of their own communities but for the sake of these industries overall.
I believe this will help bring business moguls and tech barons to account more often. White business reporters tend to softball the white men in power, who make up most of the people they cover, and not until they’re forced to or it’s too late do they start to backtrack. It’s this benefit-of-a-doubt understanding that reinforces unchecked power. Furthermore, the same perspective is always chasing the same type of story.
At times, it feels as if there’s a lack of accountability; that issues minority communities point out are either not taken seriously or take too long to land on the radar of those who make of the mainstream. Opening up a bit more will inspire new audiences and reach new hopes and dreams.
It will also help us fight back more against the powers-in-Allbirds who constantly try to devalue the work we do. The power of the press is for the people, and we need not wait for bear markets to show the outliers and outward liars. Having more diverse reporters and editors will also help ensure adequate coverage of minorities in power, because staffers with knowledge of non-white and even non-American communities can better frame societal issues free of stereotypes.
There will be an increased need for such diverse reporting, if not just for the fact that it makes for good storytelling. Tech and entrepreneurial audiences have expanded, and as a result, the mystique of the industry is fading; people see through the smoke and want to keep those hiding in the shadows on their toes. There’s an appetite for more insights dedicated to helping diverse communities understand the way technology and businesses intersect with their lives, as there is for commentary reflecting the perspective many minorities hold.
Journalists are the craftspeople of power, politics, culture, and privilege. Changing the face of journalism starts by changing the tastemakers who curate our stories. Can you name, right now, five Black business and tech editors at any of the top publications? Ten names, right now. Then name five more Black reporters on staff covering the same thing.
Look at even the new media startups who claim to want to tell new stories, to reach new readers. Look at their masthead and then read their work. The lack of diverse insight, analysis, and segregated coverage seems intentional — like a form of editorial redlining. Next year, I’m hoping the next generation of business and tech reporters break through.
Dominic-Madori Davis is a senior reporter at TechCrunch covering venture capital and startups.