I’ve been noticing the recent tweet-backs between Curt Monash, Lance Walter, and Seth Grimes on the topic of what constitutes an IT analyst vs. an IT journalist. I thought I’d replay their tweets for you (stripped of time-sent and reply-to dimensions...sorry ‘bout that, but I’ve kept, per each tweeter a sequence from most to least recent). Then I offer my summary commentary of all that:
- @CurtMonash: "That's the main benefit I see to being categorized not just as an analyst, but as a journalist too." "I want companies to be supportive if I pick a news-cycle approach to publishing on some specific story or topic." "Not sure I know when I'd want a big analyst firm to view me as a journalist. What am I missing?" "Exactly. I break news now. And a lot of the commentary published by the trade press is subcontracted to working analysts." "I don't mind being categorized as both press AND analyst. (And increasingly that's happening.) It's the either-or that causes trouble."
- @lancewalter: "I think a lot of "pure" analysts are also blurring the journalist line (good thing) cuz of blogs, syndication, death of print..."
- @SethGrimes: "I suspect some analyst firms don't want to legitimize rival, independent analysts so they ignore us as journalists."
There’s no such thing as a “pure analyst” and never has been. IT analysts and IT journalists play the same role in the industry ecosystem. There’s no clear demarc between the two fields.
We all publish or perish--that’s our primary business model. We’re all essentially reporters--in other words, we research, analyze, publish, and speak on the new things that are going on in the IT world. Clearly, there are many distinctions among us: some “reporters” (analyst/journalist) have more specialized beats than others, some report on a more regular basis than others, some go a bit deeper and broader in the research than others, some do more consulting and speaking than others, some have bigger firms marketing their offerings than others, some are better known than others, some have better access to the movers/shakers than others, some have more industry/vendor background than others, some have more corporate IT background than others, and so forth.
The working relationships among IT analysts and journalists are entirely symbiotic. One open secret in this industry is that many IT analysts began as journalists, and many have essentially stayed journalists by continuing to publish widely in the trade press. Another is that IT journalists are often excellent analysts; if they weren’t, their reportage would be subpar and they wouldn’t stay in that line of work for long. Yet another is that IT journalists often rely on IT analysts for perspective setting, information, leads, and quotes. And, of course, analysts “market” ourselves in great part on our ability to be featured prominently in journalists’ stories.
As I said above, we all play the same basic role in the IT industry ecosystem. From vendors’ point of view, analysts/journalists are a key channel for getting their go-to-market messages out to customers. From users’ point of view, analysts/journalists are a key channel helping them to make sense of those messages. Clearly, as an intermediary in this flow, analysts/journalists, as a community, provide an “information brokering/filtering” role that is indispensable.
Some analysts/journalists have more influence than others--no one denies that. We’re a huge community of many voices. Each of us, analyst/journalist (individually and/or as firms, large and small), is in a constant struggle to get our viewpoints out and to strengthen our brands. Hence we turn to blogs, podcasts, Twitter, and other channels to underline those brands. Each of us is in business as well--these are our careers. None of us is “the final word” on anything.
That said, I’m a huge fan of most other analysts/journalists in the industry. There are lots of smart people who do excellent work, and I’m constantly learning from everybody else. This is an extraordinarily stimulating line of work to be in.
Curt, Lance, Seth: Tweet’s back in your courts.