Mike Arrington vs. The Mainstream Media
CrunchNotes — I’ve Had A Long Weekend: Arrington is out with a somewhat personal post about an Online News Association conference that he attended in Washington DC this past weekend.
Apparently Mike was a panelist there and all did not go so well.
“I wanted to go because the organizers said I’d be welcome, and that the people who attend (traditional journalists) really were trying to understand this whole blogging phenomenon.
So I went. And what a mistake it was. I thought this was going to be an attempt to bridge the gap between blogging and big media. All I saw was a fear and an unassailable resistance to change.
Frankly, I have no idea why I was invited. I suspect the organizers knew that there’d be fireworks (they asked me to speak my mind) and knew full well that I’d be the sacrificial lamb of the conference.”
And so the debate continues pitting journalists against bloggers and bloggers against journalists.
First off, I’d say good for Mike for standing up and sticking to his guns. It sounds like he basically went to Washington, told the truth, and got booed for it.
Personally I find most of mainstream journalism pretty boring these days. I don’t read newspapers anymore except online. Newspapers largely print about crap that I’m not interested in. That’s not relevant to me. They print things about sports and politics and manufacturing in Taiwan and some guy named Dennis Hastert that I could care less about.
When they do write about tech it’s mostly superficial puff pieces that are boring and designed to be read by the person who doesn’t really understand technology.
Do I care if the New York Times or the Los Angeles Times writes up a review on Zune? No. Because it will largely be just a regurgitation of crap I already know. Do I care if Engadget covers it two months earlier with not only, “what we know,” but with “what we think we know,” and “what we don’t know,” and with 7 full pages of reader comments to follow? Hell yeah I do.
Or do I want to watch an actual video of an interview of the Zune team by Robert Scoble? Robert and I were out on Saturday and he mentioned that he has an upcoming interview to be published with them that he just filmed. Hell yes I want to watch this, because it’s going to be straight from the source. Robert is going to ask relevant questions and I’ll learn again a hell of a lot more than I’ll learn about the product from reading the New York Times. Plus I can actually talk to Robert about it personally and get his opinion and I can participate in a conversation about it on his blog as can anyone else in the world.
And what’s Engadget saying about Zune today? See for yourself. Now that’s relevant. Engadget gives me interesting hard hitting commentary and the New York Times re-reports what everybody already knew, that the Zune is going to have a 30GB hard drive. Yawn.
The online world is doing such a better job covering tech news than the crappy mainstream media.
But it’s not just tech news. If I want an awesome calendar of events do I go to SFGate to just see the same old boring things listed over and over again? No. I go to upcoming.org or Scott Beale’s Squid List.
If you want to buy something you go to eBay or Craigslist not the paper anymore. I’m right on this right?
Don’t get me wrong. Occasionally the New York Times actually has some interesting journalism. Their piece, “Through His Webcam, a Boy Joins a Sordid Online World” that made the rounds a while back was one of most strongest pieces of investigative journalism I think I’ve ever read.
But do I go to the New York Times, or the Los Angeles Times, or CNN or any of these places for tech news. No.
If you want something that covers a niche area like Web 2.0 go to TechCrunch.
I’m beginning to think that being associated with a paper beyond what it takes to build a reputation there is a detriment to a journalist’s career. And a lot of the best ones are in fact making the jump away from mainstream journalism. Matt Marshall and his excellent news site at VentureBeat. Om Malik over at GigaOm.
So Mike goes to Washington, tells the truth and gets attacked. He gets attacked by those more interested in defending an archaic crumbling model for news delivery and justifying their jobs than anything.
Every disruptive technology has it’s detractors who somehow long for the good old days. The film companies before digital cameras came along, The music industry and their fat cat profits before mp3s came along, television networks before TiVo — why should the news industry be any different?
Good for you Mike for telling it like it is. Digg *is* in fact largely more relevant than the New York Times. And perhaps, although I suspect an exaggeration to make a point, the best thing that the New York Times could do with their money is give it back to their shareholders — if their news reader is the best thing that they come up to do with it. How about opening comments on the New York Times? How about linking to relevant bloggers in their stories? So much could be done with that that is not being done today.
The funny thing is that in the end none of this will matter. It’s like the age old adage that you can’t fight mother nature. Certain things are inevitable and the laws of economics will sooner or later teach this lesson to the news industry much more powerfully than Mike Arrington ever could.