Chasing technology rather than tornadoes: Duncan McLeod is founder and editor of TechCentral, a technology news website. He has a column in the Sunday Times and is a respected ICT industry commentator.
What drew you to the media? I had an interest in technology when I was growing up. I tinkered a lot with computers, even programmed a bit while I was at school. I also enjoyed writing, and so I decided to marry the two passions and studied journalism with a view to specialising in technology. Back then, few people had heard of the internet. The IT explosion was just starting.
What superpower would you like to possess? The ability to overcome writer’s block.
What is your best characteristic and biggest flaw? My biggest flaw is definitely my ability to procrastinate. Best characteristic? Probably my dashing good looks. Oh, and my modesty, too.
If you weren’t a tech reporter, what would you be doing now? Chasing tornadoes. I was strongly tempted to go into meteorology, and was in fact accepted at the University of Pretoria to do a B.Sc. in the field, but ultimately decided against it, in part because I wasn’t all that good at mathematics and applied maths was a big part of the course.
What moment do you regard as career defining? Quitting a comfortable job in the print media to launch TechCentral, an online media start-up. In hindsight, it was the best decision I could have made.
What have you learnt the hard way? That building a start-up business is a complex process and that you can’t do it all yourself.
What is the best and worst advice you’ve been given? I actually can’t think of anything off the top of my head.
Who do you admire the most? Elon Musk, the South African-born entrepreneur who founded PayPal, Tesla Motors and SpaceX. He is the chief designer for the latter, overseeing the development of rockets and crafts for space missions.
What quote best describes how you see the world? “Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.” – Winston Churchill
What is your favourite holiday spot and why? I don’t think I could ever get too much of America’s west coast, especially San Francisco and the Bay Area.
What book do you wish you had written? Can’t really think of anything.
If you had a tattoo, what would it be of? It just wouldn’t happen.
What are you addicted to? The internet.
What are you afraid of? Screwing up.
What do you regret most? Not discovering confidence in myself earlier than I did.
What cheers you up the most? My girlfriend, my two English bulldogs and summer storms.
Where do you see tech journalism in five years? It will be much more multimedia-orientated: video, audio and the like. It will also be almost entirely online.
Why did you decide to leave Financial Mail in 2009 to start TechCentral? I’d been at the FM for 12 years and I needed a change. I wanted to take a risk and do something for myself.
How has tech journalism evolved since you first started TechCentral five years ago? It’s become a lot more competitive. I think the quality of the journalism has also improved as a result.
What are your goals? To live life day-by-day and hopefully have some fun doing it.
This story was first published in the October 2014 issue of The Media magazine.
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