I’ve been following the Path privacy controversy with a great deal of interest for the last week, but Crunchfund’s MG Siegler has somehow steered the conversation from Path’s mistakes to the degradation of journalism.
Seriously guys, can’t we all get along? No? Well, that’s fine with me — it’s more entertaining this way. But before we go back to life as usual, I want to address some of the assertions being leveled in this fight.
Siegler doesn’t really blame Bilton for his poor writing, though. Instead, he blames the “pageview beast”, which doesn’t care about the quality of an article, but its speed, reach and the level of sensationalism it employs. His argument is simple: pageviews equal advertising dollars in the modern media world, and it doesn’t matter how many facts you get wrong, so long as you get the pageviews.
Of course, when you attack the media, the media bites back. Dan Lyons is leading this charge, but he’s not the only one.
Now for a few quick thoughts on this catfight:
- Siegler’s right — the media is getting more facts wrong, and investigative journalism is becoming a lost art, thanks to decreasing news budgets and more efficient means of delivering and disseminating information.
- That doesn’t mean people aren’t getting their information from more sources, though, and the new media ecosystem gives more people the power to respond to misinformation with their own blog posts and tweets. This is a smart point that Scott Fulton of RWW makes in a rather lengthy counterpost.
- Everybody — not just journalists — now have the power to report and make news. This is a good thing. Just ask Sohaib Athar, the man who live-tweeted the raid on Osama Bin Ladin’s compound.
- Siegler also needs to realize he isn’t the average reader. Most people don’t spend six hours a day on the blogosphere. In an era of information overload, they just want the Cliff Notes version of the tech news for the day (they have more important shit to do than watch insiders like us bitchslap each other). So they turn to shorter posts that give them the bite-sized information they need. Insiders (the few, the proud) are the crazy ones that like the 49-paragraph monsters like Siegler’s post.
With all that said, Siegler’s post proves, in a twisted sort of way, that the new media ecosystem works. Because of its competitive nature, the media keeps itself in check. Readers get more opinions and can make a decision for themselves based on multiple voices, and when there’s an egregious screw-up, the Twitterverse kicks into high gear. The downside is that more false “scoops” and incorrect information makes it through the cracks in the first place because of the focus on speed.
In the end, the media’s job is to give readers what they want. While MG and I may wish readers would crave more in-depth thought pieces on the startup ecosystem, more of them prefer drama and catfights like the one happening in the tech blogosphere.
So much indignation on all sides. So little to do with the things that matter, like Jeremy Lin.
— Nicholas Carlson (@nichcarlson) February 14, 2012
My point: life is short, and the human race is probably doomed. Get your fill of lolcats and tech blogger catfights while you still can.
Oh, and as for why bloggers attack bloggers, the correct answer is pageviews. It’s crack for bloggers.