A Letter to Our Readers: Product Journalism in the Age of the Coronavirus

We’re all in this together, and our team remains committed to doing what we can.


What can we do to have a positive impact?

I’ve wrestled with the question for days now — not out of some innate sense of altruism, but more selfishly, out of guilt.

From one vantage point, publishing product news and advice seem frivolous in a time when healthcare workers and first responders are sacrificing their own wellbeings to treat those who are sick. At worst, it feels totally out of touch.

On top of this, like nearly every other business, Gear Patrol has had to reset its expectations for 2020 and make several adjustments in the short term. To ensure the health and the livelihoods of employees, we’ve initiated a remote working policy and put promising extensions of our business into stasis for the foreseeable future, including our own Product Culture conference, Stocked, which we successfully launched late last year.

Facing such realities, it’s tempting to press pause and question how we got here. In a crisis, it feels prudent to retrace our moves in hopes of unearthing some misstep that sent us off course.

But the simple truth is this. The plans and goals we’ve established in a time of calm are not all suddenly meaningless because of a virus. Our mission has always been to help people make the most of their time and money through editorially driven product recommendations, reviews and buying guides. We call this effort Product Journalism, and right now, amid viral videos of toilet paper hoarding and bogus hand sanitizer recipes, this kind of guidance feels more crucial than ever.

So we’re going to keep doing what we do, in part to maintain our own sanity, but mostly, to help you keep yours.

We’re well aware that the priorities and needs we have at this moment are far different than they were just yesterday. That’s why our editorial mandate will shift slightly to focus on a few key areas, including:

• Separating the facts and fiction surrounding the role products can play in preventing the spread of COVID-19
• Serving as a voice of reason in a time of consumer panic
• Providing tips and tricks to help transform your personal space into a comfortable and functional place suited to your needs
• Teaching you how to properly care for the things you already own and take full advantage of their capabilities
• Identifying the right tools and techniques to master new skills
• Sharing expert advice on maintaining your health and well-being
• Offering guidance on preparing you or your family for any contingency
• Suggesting alternative ways to still pursue what you love from the comforts of home
• Creating new venues for product enthusiasts to connect and share their similar passions in a time of forced isolation
• Fostering opportunities for more direct dialog with our team of experts to address your specific questions and concerns.

Beyond these practical shifts, we also cannot ignore our role as a champion for great products, brands and the hardworking humans behind them. In 2019 alone, Gear Patrol readers were responsible for tens of millions of dollars in purchases, and that’s just a tiny fraction of the activity we can easily quantify.

This type of consumer activity is the lifeblood of our global economy and the direct source of jobs and income for millions of people. Which is why we’ll continue to share new product releases and identify best-in-class examples to have on hand when you need them, in addition to surfacing great opportunities to save money on exceptional products.

And while we know that major retailers like Amazon may offer more convenience over others, we’ll be making an active effort to surface additional links to brands themselves as well as smaller retailers who are less equipped to survive such disruption. As inconsequential as it may feel on the surface, the decisions our coverage inspires in others supports thousands of businesses that may now be fighting to survive, as well as our own.

We are also committed to using our platform as a sounding board for inspiration and calls for action. If your company or brand is taking new steps to support your own team or contribute to the greater good, we want to hear about it and share it. Likewise, if you are a charity, community organization or other cause working to distribute essential goods and services to those in need, you can count on calls to action from us.

Taken together, these small steps pale in comparison to the efforts of government officials, emergency responders, charitable leaders and countless others working around the clock to battle the immediate crisis before us.

But helping you find the right products at the right time is the unique power we hold as a team, and we’re committed to using it however we can to support the greater good, both now and in the tumultuous months ahead.

— Ben Bowers, Co-Founder and Chief Content Officer

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