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.
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.