Post 26:08 Whys Up

I did an interview yesterday that lasted six minutes.

The brevity is explained by the fact that I had heard all of the interviewee’s arguments before, from others.

That’s not unusual for me these days, because so many interviews seem to me to have very little “why” to them.

Let me explain.

Journalism 101 says that journalism is all about the Who, What, When, Where and Why.

Now the Who, What, Where and When are often anodyne in the kind of journalism I practice, because it is mostly about vendors releasing products. This happens a thousand times a day so unless the Who and the What are very important for some reason, the deciding factor that makes something news or not (for me) is the Why.

Whys that interest me, I should add, will almost never have anything to do with corporate strategy. So if the why is “to find new markets” or something like that, it’s not stuff I cover. Hardly anyone does cover them, these days.
The Whys I DO cover are Whys that explain why my readers should care about the product/service/announcement being offered to me.

Of late I feel the Whys are tending to clump around certain subjects, with these notable for their current frequency:

  • Lower electricity consumption/green
  • Virtualisation
  • Streamlining of compliance processes and
  • Easing of administrative burdens that flow from never-decreasing quantities of digital data generated by business
  • Improving productivity of IT staff
  • Mobile workers are better workers
  • Security is a never ending battle now that criminals, not hobbyists, are the main population of hackers

I list these Whys because I hear them so often that, frankly, anyone saying them to me is late to the game. Followers are not agenda-setters and are therefore not newsworthy. I think this list may also be worthwhile because it is, I feel, pretty damn shallow. These Whys all describe very horizontal, generic business concerns. It’s not often (if ever) that I hear the Whys broken down to a level where they actually describe something that could take place in an executive’s or an IT professional’s day, rather than the kind of treatment you would probably read in a business magazine.

I don’t know if businesses want to or feel the need to communicate more specific Whys. And I will admit that the Whys sometimes go over my head (apologies to some recent security industry interviewees). But it seems to me that when all sorts of folks are piling in on the same top-level Whys, differentiating oneself makes it necessary to come up with some more, different and deeper whys. Otherwhys I suspect I will be doing a lot more six-minute interviews.

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