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Babel Insights: Keith Dyer, Editor, The Mobile Network

Babel’s Dan Parris, recently caught up with Keith to discuss the media landscape and how it has changed this year, as well as what trends he anticipates seeing for the telco sector in 2021.

1. What makes for a good PR/journalist relationship in your view?
“This answer may provoke some wry smiles given the public’s view of both PRs and journalists, but I’d say openness and honesty – going both ways. Our jobs are much easier if we understand where each other is coming from. I had a much better relationship with PR people when I started to understand what doing that job entailed. Took me too long, that’s for sure.”

2. Errors tech companies make when trying to communicate with the media?
“I hate entitled journos whinging about PRs who are just trying to do their jobs, so I feel like I might swerve this one. But I guess nobody likes to be approached by someone who is trying to push their own needs rather than understand the other’s viewpoint. In short, what is important to you or your client may not matter to the journalist. But again, that comes back to the openness thing.”

3. What made you become a journalist?
“Lack of other options. Also I’m nosy, get accused of being a cynic (I’m not!), and short-armed when it comes to getting the wallet out at the bar. That’s a combo that heads in one direction.”

4. How has journalism changed in 2020?
“Speaking personally, the lack of personal meetings and physical events has meant I am actually having more conversations and discussions, via whatever channel. Even though it may be via Twitter DM or a LinkedIn conversation, the emphasis on staying connected feels a bit more like the “ring round” days of yore. Asking “What’s happening, what’s new?” without having a particular briefing goal is a very useful thing to reconnect with.

“Much more broadly, and way above my pay grade, journalism is still grappling with “who pays for the good stuff?” and with establishing objective truth when the media world is so fractured.”

5. Hot topic of 2021?
“Again, if I answer this very narrowly in terms of my own interests then, “How is 5G going to get deployed, and who are the ‘winners’ going to be?” The ongoing impact of Coronavirus will clearly dominate. I’d also say that nationalised tech policies – what you might call the geo-politicisation of tech – will be another ongoing topic in our sector.”

6. Highlight of your lockdown (1 or 2!)?
“I am aware lockdown meant stress and loss for many so I don’t wish to be insensitive, but there were several great family moments on Zoom, and I watched a hell of a lot of “telly” and enjoyed running through clean and empty city centre streets. Also, TMN was emboldened by lockdown to start a new business model, moving to a paid-for subscription channel, and that’s been a very positive decision. So do check out what we offer.”

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