I've been mulling this one over for a while and whilst I haven't made a final decision yet I think my mind is almost made up. I'm probably going to stop publishing the info I am able to get through my various contacts in the tech industry. Rather than just make this decision quietly, I thought it deserved an explanation as there is some degree of reasoning behind it.
Firstly, I'm not a big time writer. I'm just a one man band who has access to the kind of info some technology journalists could only dream of. I don't publish all of it. I'd say 80% of the time it turns out to be spot on but I know people will concentrate on that 20% that is wrong. I try to keep it under my hat until I'm able to confirm it with a few more sources to give me piece of mind.
Secondly, sometimes people risk their jobs to tell me this stuff. I do my utmost to protect those people because they aren't coming to me because I'm a writer, they are coming to me because I am their friend. I'd never compromise my sources for anybody nor do I share them with anyone else.
Thirdly, there's no confidence in doing things this way. I don't write for a well known site so my info is often disregarded by most people. I have a comparatively small following that has grown to learn over time that my info is good, more often than not. I appreciate those people very much and some of them have afforded me opportunities to work elsewhere that I am very grateful for. I know this makes me sound like an attention hungry knob but if you're publishing online, you're doing it for attention. There are other valid reasons for writing and attention isn't my priority but it is part of what I do whether I like it or not. I'd rather embrace it that emptily deny it.
Lastly, it's starting to piss people off. Last week I tweeted about some info I got regarding Amazon. A few tech writers from a few different sites got in touch about this to chastise me for breaking an embargo. I want to stress I wasn't under embargo. All my communications from Amazon are as that of a customer, never as a writer. Some were polite enough just to ask where the info came from, others were quite rude about it. This isn't the first time this has happened and I don't need that kind of hassle. Some people think disrupting the tech reporting industry is a good thing but if I continue alienating people, whether it's colleagues or companies, it's going to eventually come back and bite me in the arse.
I could, of course go underground. Transform myself into a Macalope type character and share my info like some sort of superhero with an alternate identity but what would be the point in that?
I could also just give the info to the 'good guys' of the technology industry. Those who just work their butts off every day and who would be able to write a decent news post that would get a lot of eyeballs but again, what would be the point? My value would only be to one person and whilst there would be a degree of obfuscation, I don't know that I could guarantee a steady stream of information because friends wouldn't be helping me forge a career anymore, they'd be helping someone who already has one. So no, if the info I'm working to get is going to be used, I want it to have my name in the byline. It's only fair that if I do the legwork, I get the credit. I do too much uncredited writing elsewhere to take a step back and do it in this arena as well.
I could pitch this info and articles to publications but they don't know whether I'm being honest or making it up and I can't blame them.
So what does that mean for the site? The majority of my content isn't "rumours" or "insider info". Traffic is fairly evenly split between opinion based items and reporting so I'm confident I can still be valuable to my readership. If there's a big drop off then I'll accept that and deal with it when it happens but I doubt it will.
My decision isn't final yet, I'm still going to mull it over, I just wanted to share with you the thought process that went in to making the decision, whatever that ultimately is.