When Disney announced last week that it was launching a streaming service to compete with Netflix, Financial Times tech reporter Tim Bradshaw couldn’t get to the story.
The former Londoner was busy unpacking boxes in his new apartment in Los Angeles, where he’d moved from San Francisco to cover the intersection of tech and entertainment — exactly the kind of story that was being announced.
“We don’t have an office here at the moment,” Bradshaw said. “…It’s entirely possible I’ll be working out of a coworking space or coffeeshop-hopping or just working from the kitchen table, which is where I am right now.”
Bradshaw’s move to Los Angeles is the latest example of a growing convergence on the tech and media beats, which increasingly is taking technology reporters into the realms of publishing and entertainment and putting media reporters on the phone with sources at Silicon Valley giants like Facebook, Amazon, Apple and Google. In the last two weeks alone, Disney has announced a streaming deal, Facebook has declared its intent to make shows with news and entertainment companies and Vice teamed up with Airbnb for a series of travel “experiences.”
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In Los Angeles, Bradshaw will be covering that convergence: Interactions between major tech companies (think Apple, Amazon, Snapchat and Facebook) and Hollywood producers, who are creating content together. It reflects something of a maturation among those tech companies, which are all infusing their platforms with content and muscling in on the businesses of cable television, filmmaking and news.
There aren’t as many tech reporters in Los Angeles, Bradshaw said, so the competition in Los Angeles is less stiff. And, he said, there aren’t as many reporters primarily focused on the intersection of content and technology.
“We’re picking a slightly different battle here by going after a slice of the Silicon Valley story that’s not as saturated by reporters in San Francisco,” Bradshaw said.
Bradshaw and the Financial Times are aided by one of the realities of modern journalism, he said. For stories that require a deep bench of media and tech sources, Bradshaw can easily collaborate from afar with media editor Matthew Garrahan in London and Shannon Bond in New York and other Financial Times reporters in San Francisco.
There’s more and more crossover of the most culturally relevant stories on the media and tech beats, as well, he said.
“Whether it’s Snapchat’s bouncing hot dogs or Pokemon Go, the interesting tech stories are content stories,” Bradshaw said. “They’re app stories, to some extent.”
Bradshaw was quick to add that the emerging media and tech beat may not be confined to Los Angeles, and it may not stay there. In 2012, when Bradshaw was in London, tech types hailed the region’s emerging tech industry as a “Silicon Roundabout.” The promise of London was that investment, fashion, retail and technology would combine to create a dense and innovative hub, but London has not fulfilled the promise of becoming the next Silicon Valley, Bradshaw said.
“I think that will be hard for anywhere to replicate in the Western world,” he said. “But the flip side of that is it’s all tech all the time there. That’s the best and worst thing about San Francisco. And what I think places like London and L.A. have going for them is they do have that diversity of industries and people and talent.”