Commentary

'Politico' Founder Allbritton Plans Tech Website Amid Crowded Field

Robert Allbritton, the founder of political news site Politico, plans to launch a new website calledProtocol that will cover the technology industry. It's expected early next year.

As Joe Pompeo of Vanity Fair writes, the website is a late entry to tech journalism amid the profusion of coverage from outlets ranging from niche trade publications to the biggest U.S. newspapers.

Tim Grieve, Protocol’s executive editor, said Protocol will be more focused on the people, power and politics of tech.

While some observers may be skeptical of the undertaking, I believe there is more room for technology coverage that appeals to a broader audience. Many people have a limited understanding about technology and its profound effects.

That's especially true inside the Beltway.

Look no further than recent congressional hearings of testimony from Amazon, Apple, Facebook, Google and Twitter executives. Lawmakers who are venerated for their understanding of policies, social issues and legal procedures routinely look out of their depth when it comes to asking pointed questions about tech companies.

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The industry has become one of the biggest lobbyists on Capitol Hill as tech giants seek to fend off growing scrutiny from antitrust authorities. Well-placed political donations can go a long way toward ensuring the government looks the other way as Silicon Valley's stalwarts abuse their market power, invade people's privacy or stifle innovation.

It's not clear how the tech industry is helping the U.S. economy as productivity languishes, household incomes stagnate, life expectancy declines, homelessness surges in major cities and young adults pile on record levels of student debt.

Where is the innovation? Is it removing the "like" button from Instagram? Adding yet another camera lens to the iPhone? Putting actor Samuel L. Jackson's voice on Amazon Alexa? Posting more streaming videos for overweight kids to binge-watch?

California can't even keep its power grid running because of worries about devastating brush fires. With rolling blackouts, how is anyone supposed to recharge their iPhone just enough to post a video to TikTok?

Too many tech publications are enamored with gadgetry they can't coherently explain to anyone except other nerds. That's also a missed opportunity, given the profusion of new products that nobody understands how to use.

I used to think the salespeople at Best Buy and Micro Center were poorly trained, but expecting Amazon to provide any help with tech questions is a lost cause.

Tech publishing may be crowded, but there is room for more enterprising journalism that covers tech for its own sake.

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