Are We Talking Ethics or Grudges or Just Funny?

Let me begin by making two important points.  One, other than a brief handshake at a conference once or twice, I’ve never met any of the main players involved in this TechCrunch/Crunchgate thing.  Two, I have no personal knowledge about the facts, as they exist or as they have been described, other than what I’ve read online.

Having said that…

A Quick Recap

image TechCrunch, a very popular website, had an intern or part-time employee who may have asked for or been offered some manner of compensation from companies seeking coverage on TechCrunch.  Such an act would be bad mojo for a new media web site trying to be taken seriously, and make lots of money in the process.  Mike Arrington, the founder and presumably majority owner of TechCrunch, wrote an apology and sacked said intern.

Loren Feldman, of 1938media, wasn’t all that impressed with Mike’s mea culpa.  It was noted in Loren’s post, and may be relevant to the discussion, that Mike and Loren apparently had a falling out in the past.  I don’t know the details, and they don’t matter at this point.

All of which led me to wonder, as I read the posts discussed below, how much of this is ethical activism, how much is some inside joke between two of the popular geeks, how much is grudge-fighting, and how much is just good old fashioned humor.

It gets confusing.

And while we’re talking about confusion and disclosure, let me note that I have written negatively about a lot of stuff Mike has said and done.  On the other hand, I have written in support of other things he has said or done.  See, I’m fair and balanced and transparent and confused.

Back to Mike and Loren…

Some of the things Loren says are spot on:

Why is TechCrunch even covering Yazzem? As a commenter points out, talking about “M&A”, “advertising” and “premium features” as part of a $15,000 deal between two companies with no web traffic clearly isn’t news.

And much is hilarious:

The Gillmor Gang may or may not be a TechCrunch production. It consists of non-technical people yelling at each other about technology and runs for what feels like eleven hours. Visuals focus on odd angles of nostril hair, bad cell phone call-in audio, and lighting that makes them look like lizards. Their most popular video is a 90 second YouTube clip where keyboard cat plays jazz organ after Mike acts like an idiot, a Google employee throws his Skype headset down in disgust, and I roll my eyes uncomfortably.

There are good points, and there are funny lines.  There is also hostility and belittling.

Maybe there’s a topic here we should discuss.  If I could stop laughing.  And cringing.  And laughing.  And cringing.

I Know You Are, But What Am I

Before I read all about this latest blogospat (or whatever it truly is), I did note with some interest that TechCrunch was throwing rocks at InfoWorld for not being as quick or as good at apologizing.  Maybe this is the best defense is a good offense thing, but I would think that’s a story Mike could have let pass right by without comment.

And Now for Something Completely Similar

All of this led to a post yesterday by Loren in which he takes some more, admittedly generally funny, shots at TechCrunch and then provides a list of over 100 companies whose mentions at TechCruch were deleted.  Including such juggernauts as Microsoft, Facebook, Intel and Yazzem.  Thank God Bebo wasn’t on that list.

See, I can be funny too…

Which, Finally, Leads to My Point.  Hey Wake Up!

I love a good blogospat.  I’ve written about some of the best of them.  I’ve been involved in a few.

But beneath all the punches and humor, isn’t there an important issue here?

People talk about blogs.  They love ‘em or they hate ‘em.  They are either the evolution of journalism or the new neighborhood papers for persistent nerds.

All of that is wrong.  Well, except for the nerd part.  That’s sort of right.

Blogs don’t really exist.  Not in the way most people describe them. Blogging is merely a content creation and management platform- like WordPress or Blogger.  Content is still content, and media is still media.  If someone wants to be taken seriously, whether as a blogger, a musician or a chimneysweep, he or she has to respect the rules of the game, manage their brand and nurture their credibility.  Whether you publish on dead tress, blogging platforms, email or signs behind airplanes is irrelevant.

So I think it’s fair and appropriate to debate TechCruch’s (and InfoWorld’s) actions in the wake of material credibility issues.  But if what we are really doing is having some personal grudge-match or engaging in extreme and generally hilarious satire (Disclosure: I think the funniest move ever made is Idiocracy, so I love satire as least as much as the next geek), let’s just say so.

I’d like to either promote distributed media (my pre-owned cars word for what some erroneously call blogging) or bury it in absurdity.

I’m happy either way.  Let’s just pick one.

3 thoughts on “Are We Talking Ethics or Grudges or Just Funny?

  1. This is, of course, a legitimate reason to be dubious if not dismissive of the basic concept of “citizen journalism.” That's not to say traditional journalists don't engage in un-ethical print wars. They certainly have. But the chances of that occurring inside an organization built on basic journalistic standards are significantly lower than in the blog community.The old axiom “don't believe everything you read” is particularly true when followed by “on the internet.”

  2. Yeah, I sort of agree. But old school journalism is regressing to the mean. Far too much effort is out on grabbing attention and eyeballs, as opposed to reporting news. You end up with sloppy headlines and writing that wouldn't have made the high school paper 20 years ago.It will be interesting to see how the NYT and others succeed or fail in their efforts to highlight the distinction between “real” media and web logs, etc.

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