Source | LinkedIn : By Maheshwer Peri
A journalist friend asked for my opinion on journalism of Startups and I said “where is the journalism? It is mere reportage and reproducing press releases”. He asked “What is your grouse?” And I said “Rahul Yadav is not the poster boy for startups. He doesn’t represent the ethos of most startups. Media created him only only to shoot him down at the first opportunity and this hurt all startups”.
I feel the biggest undoing of startups is the failure of a media to dig deeper, probe, analyse and look beyond the bytes and press releases. They made heroes out of non-entities with the real gems mostly ignored. Most startup founders are young and susceptible with little maturity to deal with the media. Not being in news is as much a need as being in the news. PR and Media are like dope for some of the founders who are rarely capable of differentiating between being in the news and letting your success be the news. Many think that media hype will lead them to funding, which is a fallacy. It may lead you to a few VC meetings, but funding is only a function of the organisation you created. Many love the social status that comes with media coverage but it has its own pitfalls. Startup founders are riding a tiger with the media and VCs controlling the leash. In fact, the title ‘Founder’ is in itself intoxicating.
How would I cover Startups? What is my advise to journalists covering Startups? Here is my two piece bit from my experience of being a publisher for a news/business magazine. This has nothing to do with my current status as founder of Careers360.
1. Journalists are putting the cart before the horse. They are more focussed on funding, valuations and carry press releases which border on bloated claims and often lies and rarely analysing the business itself.
2. Most startups are noticed because of PR-formance and not performance. An excel sheet and a good PPT don’t make a successful business. The commitment, conviction, integrity and desire of the promoter to solve a genuine problem Is paramount. Journalism has rarely uncovered a startup that VCs have missed out. That should be the biggest failure of start up journalism.
3. There must be detailed follow up stories for those covered already. Compare them to their claims an year back and let your audience know. This will ensure that start up founders are careful about their claims and get realistic.
4. Investigative reportage is almost absent in startup journalism. Barring MINT, no media organisation broke a story or carried an expose. That is a sad report card on startup journalism.