Bloggers need to try even harder

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Update:

Fred has an update on his post in which he makes it clear that he wasn’t picking on Matt or Erick, and he has also retired the term “journablogger.” And Mike Arrington has now come to the defence of Erick and Matt, and questioned Fred’s motives in posting what he did — although I think Mike overdoes it a little in his post.

Maybe Fred’s post was flawed (which he admits on his blog and in a comment at TechCrunch), but I still think it’s a worthwhile discussion to have. But then, I guess I’m a traditional journalist. Mike says he doesn’t care about being balanced, he just wants to be right. I think that’s a natural impulse, but it can have unpleasant side-effects.

Original post:

I have to give VC blogger Fred Wilson some props for calling out what he calls “journabloggers” like Mashable, VentureBeat, GigaOm, TechCrunch and so on. Fred’s point — one that others have made as well — is that it’s easy for such sites to fall into the trap of posting salacious headlines that aren’t fully backed up, whether because they want to be first, or because they simply want to boost traffic.

The example Fred uses is a VentureBeat post about visual-search site Like.com (formerly known as Riya), which Matt Marshall says has seen its traffic climb to the point where it is beating competitor ThisNext — a claim that Fred takes issue with. He also mentions a recent post from TechCrunch, and his point seems to be that Matt and Erick Schonfeld could have done a bit more research to back up some of their claims.

Matt seems like a stand-up guy, and I know Fred didn’t bring it up to pick on him, or on anyone else for that matter (and just to be clear, neither am I). I think it’s good to point out when the bloggers we read aren’t thinking things through fully or are falling short (and that includes me), provided it is done in a constructive way. The great part about the blogosphere — which Fred didn’t really mention — is that it’s easy to flesh out and/or correct a post when something like that happens.

VentureBeat, for example, responded to Fred’s concerns (which Matt commented on at Fred’s blog) and added them to the original post. That’s a substantially better response than Fred would have gotten from traditional media, I expect. Steven Hodson at WinExtra makes a good point: if the top “journabloggers” get too comfortable or lazy, all that does is open up opportunities for new ones, which is good.

Comments (18)

  1. allen stern wrote::

    the true question is here is whether anyone gives a shit if the story is true, factually accurate or not. some sites still receive new inbounds in any case. And frankly, I (sadly) disagree with Mr. Hodson – though I'd love to see it happen.

    Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 4:57 pm #
  2. mathewi wrote::

    I know that kind of thing happens, Allen, but I think (or would like
    to believe) that if it happens enough it will drive people away and
    other sites will take their place.

    Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 5:56 pm #
  3. allen stern wrote::

    i'd certainly love it Mathew… and if it happens I will fedex you a dozen bagels :)

    Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 6:54 pm #
  4. mathewi wrote::

    It's a deal — sesame seed is my favourite :-)

    Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 7:15 pm #
  5. Chris R wrote::

    Good points to bring up, Mathew. I like constructive criticism and it's great that writers are trying to call out other writers, if anything, to improve their craft.

    Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 6:07 pm #
  6. Seems a little unfair to single out Matt and Erick, both of whom have a history of writing pretty insightful and newsworthy stuff. The two posts that annoyed me most recently for their lack of research, insight or accuracy were the Techcrunch piece about the “evidence” showing Yahoo users are poorer than Google's, and the one on CenterNetworks aimlessly speculating about the link between teen suicide and social networks. Those seem like much better examples of sensationalist link baiting.

    Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 6:11 pm #
  7. mathewi wrote::

    I agree, Daniel. And I hope my post doesn't come across as picking on
    Matt or Erick, because I think they are both great bloggers, and in
    fact are good examples of how much “journabloggers” can bring to the
    table.

    Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 6:17 pm #
  8. Not at all — I actually meant it was unfair of Fred Wilson to single them out. I thought your post was bang on.

    Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 6:34 pm #
  9. Eric Rice wrote::

    I thought our culture was moving towards 140 characters or less sound bytes? ;)

    Sunday, February 17, 2008 at 7:41 pm #
  10. I overdid it? Watch out, you're next.

    kidding, kidding.

    why do i always comment here? Your audience hates me.

    Monday, February 18, 2008 at 1:54 am #
  11. mathewi wrote::

    I guess you're just a glutton for punishment, Mike :-)

    Monday, February 18, 2008 at 9:41 am #
  12. JoeDuck wrote::

    Hey, I like Mike!

    But he seemed to overreact to this as you suggest here. Fred's basic points were valid and I didn't read his post as some sort of personal attack, rather an open question about journalistic standards with examples that could have been chosen more carefully.

    Monday, February 18, 2008 at 4:01 am #
  13. ianbetteridge wrote::

    Mike's comment about not caring about balance is both hypocritical and telling. On one hand, he's flaming Fred – and insisting on an apology – because Fred didn't call his writers and get their side of the story. On the other hand, he's saying he doesn't care about balance in his own work. How does that work again?

    Monday, February 18, 2008 at 6:37 am #
  14. There are different kinds of balance — portraying an accurate story vs. giving equal weight to opposing opinions even though one is much stronger than the other. For example, if an author is writing about evolution, the last thing I want is for the opinions of creationists to be given equal weight to the facts presented by credible scientists.

    Monday, February 18, 2008 at 11:42 am #
  15. mathewi wrote::

    A fair point, Daniel.

    Monday, February 18, 2008 at 11:45 am #
  16. mathewi wrote::

    I guess you're just a glutton for punishment, Mike :-)

    Monday, February 18, 2008 at 2:41 pm #
  17. There are different kinds of balance — portraying an accurate story vs. giving equal weight to opposing opinions even though one is much stronger than the other. For example, if an author is writing about evolution, the last thing I want is for the opinions of creationists to be given equal weight to the facts presented by credible scientists.

    Monday, February 18, 2008 at 4:42 pm #
  18. mathewi wrote::

    A fair point, Daniel.

    Monday, February 18, 2008 at 4:45 pm #

Trackbacks/Pingbacks (5)

  1. Fred Wilson - Hypocritical, Wrong and Conflicted on Monday, February 18, 2008 at 1:58 am

    […] Mathew Ingram says I went a little too hard at Fred here. I don’t necessarily disagree. Fred tends to come […]

  2. Journablogger Battle Dome 2008 « Joe Duck on Monday, February 18, 2008 at 2:55 am

    […] Matt explains all this wisely.  Hey, he’s pretty smart despite the fact that he’s a real journalist.. […]

  3. […] アップデート:Mathew Ingramは、私が上でFredに厳しく当たりすぎているのではないかと書いた。私は必ずしもそうは思わない。だいたいFredは人に厳しく当たる傾向があので、こちらも厳しくやり返したまでだ。しかし読者の多くが知らないことだと思うので、そういう事情があることを一言付け加えておく。 […]

  4. Linking To Differing Opinion | Andy Beard - Niche Marketing on Monday, February 18, 2008 at 7:39 am

    […] Mathew Ingram was following the story closely, and as a professional journalist who I know links out to conflicting opinion on a frequent basis, followed up with “Bloggers Need To Try Harder” […]

  5. Blogger, journalist, writer, or just opinionated on Tuesday, February 19, 2008 at 12:02 am

    […] Bloggers need to try even harder – – mathewingram.com/work […]