Considering 2018, engineering for 2019

Above: 2019, by @JEGAS_RA/DepositPhotos

A TechNewsTT report to readers

We didn’t do anywhere as much reporting on technology as we would have liked to in 2018. This project is one of the things that I do and also happens to be the one that earns the least direct cash.

The year 2018 started with a flourish, our second invitation to attend CES in Las Vegas, this time as part of the Samsung Latin American contingent of media professionals.

The reporting thrust then was very much enchanted with the idea of video, and two videos produced on the show floor were the result of our efforts to translate the focus of TechNewsTT to a visual medium.

With a face made for radio and a voice that works best in print, the productions were low-keyed and perhaps nowhere as effective as they might have been in the hands of professional video segment producers.

That’s something that’s going to deserve more attention in the coming months, though out first efforts are to maximise distribution of promos for freshly posted stories and to deliver the reporting that both existing and potential readers are interested in.

Revenue is, of course, something that is top of mind.

Income from TechNewsTT would fund more coverage of events that have been simply out of our reach on the basis of return for time spent.

Few media houses will release a reporter for the entire run of a technology event and those are people on staff. The challenge of reporting for TechNewsTT comes down, sometimes, to whether I can afford to stick around.

Sometimes the answer is no to a whole event.

This isn’t terribly helpful to the developing local technology sector, since many of these events aren’t covered for longer than it takes the line minister to make its speech in the daily news cycle.

We’ve been nursing some ideas along for a bit about how to turn that around and 2019 seems like a good year to start pressing some of that pedal to the metal.

We remain committed to the idea of eating a little to live long, as our elders would warn, and avoiding the temptation to seek funding for growth until it’s clearly sustainable.

There are also challenges working with businesses and multinational companies who sometimes get confused about independent journalism being upheld in a small online publication emerging from a Caribbean nation. This is not a haven for influencers, though we aspire to be influential.

We are as committed today as we were in September 1995, when the BitDepth column was launched, to the idea that readers deserve truth and an honest interpretation of the fact and reality of the technologies they are interested in using.

While there are a few affiliate ads gently salting the website, they are there because I admire the companies, use their services or software and like suggesting their products through advertising as well as reviews and evaluation.

Readership has held steady year over year after our initial growth surge, though our best annual performance numbers since the publication was founded in 2014 have been driven by outsized numbers for specific stories with wide national interest.

Our biggest story for 2018, an exclusive report on an email scam that I considered not writing at all, has drawn 4,583 readers from across the world.

Overall readership for 2018 clocked in at 32,315 readers who opened 48,542 views. In 2018, we recorded 34,066 visitors who were responsible for 49,696 views.

This seems to represent a core readership, who found our reporting overwhelmingly through search engines and Facebook, which continues to be an increasingly unreliable source of readers for publishers.

As a curious aside, my best-viewed stories on TechNewsTT fall far short of my two big stories (RBCBlack Panther) on TriniGoodMedia, the other online publication I am supporting.

My contribution there is the editing of OpEdTT, an opinion leadership section of the feature and commentary focused publication that’s part of a media initiative by former Guardian Features Editor and BBC producer Franka Phillip and radio commentator Ardene Sirjoo.

I’ll be following the lead of Franka and Ardene who have been talking to Civil, which has taken on nothing less than the task of building a new, more viable economic system for modern journalism.

Last week we launched our third effort for the year at a weekly update newsletter and will be examining ways to improve our communication and direct engagement with readers, and anyone interested in the local technology sector.

The majority of our views come from people who visit the website to read a story, and we’ve worked hard to optimise that experience for readers, who we also know are overwhelmingly viewing these stories on smartphones.

Further to that, we’ve made two efforts at implementing Google’s fast-loading, SEO-favoured AMP technology before settling on a solution that meets the parameters of the search company’s lightweight website deployment tech while preserving the basic feel of the website’s design.

More technology changes are in the immediate offing. We will be making the move to WordPress 5 and the Gutenberg editor early in the New Year, after waiting out the first weeks of a major change in the way websites are built on the popular CMS.

We are grateful for the growing acknowledgement of TechNewsTT as a journalism resource serving the technology sector of Trinidad and Tobago among the companies and professionals who constitute the industry locally or have a presence here for business.

We are also pleased to note the support of tech sector individuals, including Shiva Bissessar, Kwesi Prescod, Taran Rampersad and others who have contributed either directly or by challenging our understanding of subject matter and reporting on critical issues of the day.

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society allows me to continue to quietly mooch off their experience and talent in the local industry, some of it reaching across decades of local development in the sector.

These are all a lot of words to say thank you for reading our work and viewing our occasional video efforts, for voting with your views, bookmarking the site and using our RSS feed to keep up with our reporting.

Your presence and participation provides the foundation for a publishing project that informs me as much as I hope to inform you.

Our 2017 report to readers is here.