Why does the media only care about my startup raising money? What about my more important news?

The answer lies in the unfortunate unintended consequences of business news reporting and there’s no easy fix

Alan Jones

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Photo by NeONBRAND on Unsplash

Simon Griffiths is a great bloke, and his company Who Gives A Crap does great things. In Australia, the UK, Europe and the USA they sell great toilet paper online and donate a chunk of proceeds to fund hygiene and sanitation work in communities in need. They reckon that every roll they sell funds access to a toilet for a week. I use and recommend Who Gives A Crap toilet paper and their packaging and customer relationship copywriting makes me laugh and smile every time. Try it, you’ll thank me. But I digress.

This week the company announced they’d donated a record AUD5.85M to charity as a result of the increased sales of toilet paper created by the pandemic lockdown. There was one bummer though…

This frustrated Simon, and it frustrates many startup founders I know: how come raising investment is always a bigger story to journalists than other, more important things? (Things like how they responded in time to meet a 1,100% increase in daily sales, or like how their donation this year will be the third biggest globally to their charity partner, WaterAid, beaten only by PepsiCo and HSBC!)

There’s one good reason for the focus on raising investment in the news: journalists (particularly finance and business journalists) want private companies to disclose hard numbers — revenue, customers, profits, etc to help them sift facts from hype.

Sometimes companies (big and small) get away with telling porkies about how great their company is. When that gets found out to be a pile of poo, journalists and media organisations cop some of the blame. Get caught bigging-up the wrong company without at least trying to establish what’s really going on and it can kill your career in journalism (unless you work for Fox News, News Limited or…

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Alan Jones

I’m a coach for founders, partner at M8 Ventures, angel investor. Earlier: founder, early Yahoo product manager, tech reporter. Latest: disrupt.radio