A Rant: No, journos, I will not talk to you about your favourite billionare bad boy.

Press
BBC Scotland HQ, summer 2020

Although my days as a media contact through my jobs seem to be well behind me, I’m still on a lot of journalists’ contact lists. This has turned into an interesting experiment, as I’ve come to learn what it is they want to contact me about, thinking I am someone or something that I am not.

Now, anyone who has read my words or followed my professional advocacy work will have a fairly good idea of what I’m about – as well as what I am not about. There are issues that I clearly feel very passionately about which great journalists are aware of; in fact, here’s a piece I contributed to last week.

There are also issues about which I clearly DGAF, but when did that ever bother not-so-great journos?

So naturally, in weeks like this, it’s the stuff IDGAF about that not-so-great journalists contact me for.

And by that, I mean: they contact me when they want colour for a piece about a bad boy American billionaire tech bro.

And it’s not just that: it’s that they contact me because they’re seeing stars and want to ride a celebrity bandwagon.

šŸ¤© MAAAARK ZUCKERBERG!! šŸ¤‘ EEEE-LON MUSK!! šŸ˜ JOE ROGAN!!

(gonnae wipe that stain off your screens, lads?)

In case it wasn’t obvious, I’ve had to put up with a lot of this shit this week, from journos who have put in a heavy shift of Googling looking for “experts” to come on and talk about Elon Musk.

Nota bene: they don’t want me to come on to talk about the issues at stake from a political, technical, legal, or social perspective.

They want me to come on to talk about the billionare bad boy. Phwoar!

I even joked about it inevitably happening. It happened.

But here’s the thing: these are American bros stirring up American dramas impacting American people.

This is not America.

This is a country which has plenty of problems of our own around tech, and policy, and people with high profiles and a lot of money and bad intentions.

This is the only country I live and work in, on those issues.

This is the only country where I have been working my backside off on these issues, for several years.

And I don’t do that alone. There are thousands of qualified professionals, in this country, working on those issues, in ways that centre the people and users and human beings who are impacted by technology. People who were fighting the good fight all along, and never once sold out. People who, for what it’s worth, could do media spots half asleep and upside down.

All of those people would love to be able to speak about their work anywhere that would have them, much less through the microphone of national broadcasters and media outlets. Any one of these people could also speak truth to power, rather than fawning over it.

But nope. All any of us are good for, apparently, is playing up American celebrity prestige. Stuff our own work, and stuff the people we’re looking out for.

And if you’re a woman? Know your place. And that, in the minds of too many journos, is in a rich man’s shadow.

So get this straight, googling journalists of the sunlit uplands. Women in tech policy do not exist solely to provide colour for your fawning stories about American bad boy billionaire cel-eb-rit-eees.

In fact, we have so many stories to tell.

If only you’d ask.

Header photo by me, June 2021, heading into a media place to not talk about a celebrity

The Author

Iā€™m a tech policy wonk based in Glasgow, Scotland. I work for an open web built around international standards of human rights, privacy, accessibility, and freedom of expression. The content and opinions on this site are mine alone and do not reflect the opinions of any previous employer. On that subject, I am on the market again; usual rules apply.