What It's Like To Be A Tech Reporter – Megan Rose Dickey, Senior Reporter at TechCrunchFeatured

I’m a senior reporter at TechCrunch focused on diversity, inclusion and social justice. I also cover the on-demand economy, AI and transportation.Before joining TechCrunch, I covered tech startups at Business Insider. There, I focused on the shared economy, IoT and the music industry. I hold a BA in Broadcast and Digital Journalism from University of Southern California.Ask me anything about diversity, inclusion and social justice in tech, a career in journalism, or something else!
I'm really curious to hear about your journey as a journalist/reporter. How did you get your start at Business Insider and then TechCrunch? I recently left my role at a Y Combinator startup in Canada to be a freelance journalist and writer, and your career is super impressive! What have been the biggest hurdles for you along the way, and do you have any tips or advice for someone trying to make it as a journalist in the tech industry?
Hi! My career has been as follows: received a tech blogging job after applying via craigslist > left job to take paid internship at BI > internship turned into a full-time job > took some time off > returned to tech journo after a former BI colleague introduced me to my now current boss at TC! I'd say the biggest hurdles have been sourcing. I generally consider myself to be a good storyteller but also a pretty big introvert, which makes it hard for me to want to be out and about at events, constantly meeting people. I'd suggest showing up to lots of industry events and talking to as many people as you can.
Thanks so much for your advice and career journey! I'll try to put it into action with more events! It's always tough getting out there but it seems so worthwhile!
Since Diversity & Inclusion has been thrust into the mainstream in tech, many companies have been criticized for overly-focusing on PR-friendly, "feel-good" efforts. What do you think is tech journalism's role in this, to ensure actually *meaningful* impact of this work?
It's important to continue to hold companies accountable. Diversity reports are useful to a certain extent, but it's more important to look at what companies are doing on a day-to-day basis to ensure fair, inclusive practices. That means asking specific questions about hiring practices, pay/promotion processes, etc.
What makes a startup compelling & worthy of writing about? And how do you feel about this new(ish) wave of PR-agencies that promise buzz to help with funding? Thank you!
I wish founders would not rely so heavily on PR firms. I'm generally more receptive when founders reach out to me directly than when they have a PR firm on board. PR firms cannot guarantee coverage, let alone funding.
Thank you! (and I'm *so* glad you said that).
Do you think that the situation with female lead startups is getting better (regarding getting investments)?
maybe a little? but there's still not nearly enough investment. case in point:
A fellow Meg(h)an here and a former reporter. I covered health policy on Capitol Hill during the Affordable Care Act battle/implementation. Reporting in Silicon Valley has, in the past, had a reputation for being too friendly to companies. Do you think that reputation is deserved? If yes/no why? And why do you think that has happened?
I'd say that's valid. I think that's happened because reporters want to remain in the loop regarding big product launches, executive changes, etc.
Is there a topic/type of stories you'd like to do more investigative work around than you currently do?On the flip side, what area would you like to do less work in?
definitely more about criminal justice reform and policy. i'll probably eventually want to do less around electric scooters, but i'm not burnt out just yet
I love that TC has someone focused on diversity and inclusion. How do you think that the lack of diversity of companies featured in TC influences where investors end up deciding to put their money towards. For example, if you have 1000 articles with the "typical" company+ founder and only 10 articles with diverse founders or "atypical" companies. Also, how can I (a person who is not an investor or a founder) help promote more diversity for start ups?
I'm sure it has some effect. I've heard stories from founders that investors have reached out after TC published a story about them, so it's definitely something that happens. We generally try to cover companies from diverse founders, but as you know, that doesn't always happen.For you, I'd suggest looking into some orgs like project include and kapor center for social impact
What topics/stories are you super tired of right now? What would be your #1 absolute dream story to write about instead?
I am definitely having some diversity fatigue, so I've been doing less coverage around that topic. I'll have to get back to you about my dream story -- it's a great question.
Love that you are covering diversity, inclusion and social justice for Techcrunch! A few questions:- How do you think the tech industry is performing here? - What do you think they need to do to be better at it? - And any examples for those (people, orgs, etc) who are? - What can women in tech (e.g. the Leap community and others) do to help make it better?
depending on the week, the tech industry is doing better. in terms of overall representation of diverse people, some companies are doing better than others, but it seems that the industry is quite a ways away from achieving any real success around d&ithe leap community and the masses can continue speaking out about what's not working for them in the tech industry. i think it's really promising what's happened at google over the last couple of weeks (walkouts --> some changes at the comapny) but there's a lot more work that needs to be done across the industry as a whole
Hi Megan, Thank you for doing this. I met you at one of the Tech Disrupt parties 2 months back. In any case, my question, is how do you select what companies/startups to write for? Also, do you recommend any publications, influencers, blogs that are willing to write an article on a startup that is still early but would like to get some free publicity to get consumers?
Hi! I like to write about companies that I think are solving real, interesting problems. Generally, those problems affect marginalized people in some way.
Couple of questions:1) I think it is really cool that TechCrunch is focusing on writing in particular about diversity, inclusion, and social justice. I do have a nagging concern in the back of my head that wonders if this would silo D&I from the other reporters/leadership at TechCrunch. Kind of like the idea that having a Head of Diversity and Inclusion at a tech company means that they are never going to make any meaningful improvements since the other leaders don't have to focus on it...does that make sense? How does TC avoid this amongst the reporting team(s)? Or how do you make sure this doesn't happen? 2) What has been the most _______ interview/reporting you have done? (I want to say frustrating or rude, but unlikely you are going to spill the juicy details...)3) What has been the most surprising interview/reporting you have done? Why? Thank you!
1) that's a fair concern! it did feel that way when i first started, but other reporters have def stepped up to cover issues pertaining to diversity and inclusion. and that's been super helpful as i've personally grown a bit tired2) one story comes to mind. i'm publishing it next week, but basically, some white dude founder of an electric scooter company body-shamed me, so that was pretty fun. 3. a recent story i did about kairos, a facial recognition startup, comes to mind. just lots of bizarre things happening, mostly that the chairperson of the board trying to oust the founder:
Hi Megan! Thanks for your time. I am Panamanian. As a female, latina and international founder, getting media attention for my startup from American journalists is extremely difficult. Any advice?
Unfortunately this AMA is already over. If you post your question on leap though I bet you’ll get some solid advice.
What's the best approach for a new product in the hardware (consumer) to get press and attention in SV and in TechCrunch? Product very well received by corporate and consumers, however since we are not Peloton level (yet) I'd appreciate your input!
send me an email with more deets! if i'm not interested, i can see if someone else on the team wants to learn more. [email protected]
Hello Megan, so great to meet you! I'm planning a conference in San Francisco focused on international born female tech founders in order to inspire future leaders (and minority women in particular) and give direction to take action in building meaningful technology-enabled companies by shedding some light on hardships in overcoming barriers to and challenges of entrepreneurship and rewarding outcomes as a result of perseverance. Do you think this is actually too exclusive by focusing on foreign born female entrepreneurs? I thought their stories would be worth sharing since they had to overcome a lot more challenges.
Unfortunately the AMA has already ended. I think this would be a great question to post on Leap though.
Great to know you're focused on diversity, inclusion and social justice. Would really appreciate your answer for the following:If you were to personally mentor a startup or be responsible for their PR and media relations, what would be your step by step strategy to: 'make the company newsworthy, get regular positive coverage and build a great brand image.' (irrespective of the domain or let's say for a social media startup)
oof that's just not something i ever want to do
A few questions:1. What do you consider a Tech company? I am so confused on this matter because some people have referred to the platform i founded (a media brand for millennial women) and I recently heard Jen Rubio founder of Away (Luggage companu) refer to her company as a Tech company.2. When growing a media brand that focuses more on written content, what is the best way to grow the audience with non paid methods? Is getting press a great tool? 3. Best startegies for PR outeach
heh I feel you on that. just about anything that uses tech in some way can be considered a tech company these days. But you also have a say in how you want to position your company.
What do you think would help create more diversity at companies -- especially at the top? And what do you think is necessary for lasting change?
I always semi-joke that big companies just need to fire everyone and start over. But given that's never going to happen, I generally think ensuring X number of underrepresented people are considered for each executive role is a good place to start
Hi Megan :) Thanks for doing this! Since there are a lot founders on Leap, perhaps you could share a couple of your pitch-pet peeves --or-- helpful advice about subject lines and pitch length?
Thanks for joining us, Megan and thanks to everyone for asking her great questions.This AMA has now ended!
Great to see you here! 👍🏽
What are the most forward thinking micro funds who invest in pre-revenue startups, which look to disrupt a cateogry?. Our technology is IAAS, big data play with a B2B2C ecosystem.
Thanks so much for joining us, Megan!As a reminder – this is part of our ongoing series of conversations with experts in the community.
I'm a Canadian, who has a start up based in Silicon Valley, and you would swear I can vote, as I've been watching the midterm elections very closely :).The country seems to be becoming polarized, and there is a rise in the amount of racial incidents that is happening across the country, that it seems many leaders of the country are normalizing. My question to you is, do you think that this rising division has a negative or positive impact on the tech world, especially for female founders and founders of color?
Welcome! We chatted through Leslie back in 2016 about you reporting on Workit Health. Would love to pick up the conversation again if you're up for it :) Otherwise welcome to Leap it's a great community.