Lance Ulanoff’s death spiral has begun

by Mathew on February 26, 2008 · 22 comments

I hate to pick on someone — unless they deserve it, of course — but I’m willing to make an exception in Lance Ulanoff’s case. He’s the PCMag editor whose piece on Facebook got picked up by Fox News, primarily (I’m assuming) because of the headline, which says “Facebook’s death spiral has begun.” The actual column is a sort of drive-by critique of the social network, in which Ulanoff cobbles together reports about how it used to be hard to quit Facebook, and about how it had some problems with the news feed back in 2006, and about how it reminds him of America Online back in the day. Sounds like a death spiral, doesn’t it?

When I finished reading the piece, I checked the byline to see who wrote it, and the name Ulanoff rang a bell. Then I remembered: Lance is the same guy who wrote a piece about digital-rights management and music not that long ago, which I also wrote a post about and called “staggeringly dense.” A commenter took me to task for that — and other things — but I’m going to stick by it. For a blogger, both of these pieces would be forgiveable; for a guy whose bio says he is the editor-in-chief of the PCMag Network and has 20 years of journalism experience, it’s pretty sad. Who said bloggers were the only ones to deliberately stir up controversy just to get readers?

  • http://www.ipdemocracy.com Cynthia Brumfield

    “For a blogger, both of these pieces would be forgiveable.” hmmm….

  • http://www.mashable.com Adam Ostrow

    Great headline Mathew. I actually laughed out loud :-)

    Couldn't agree more with the story too, but it's all about the headline these days anyhow right?

  • http://doncrowley.blogspot.com DC Crowley

    I remember lots of people dancing and singing about the death of Facebook, when Open Social (a 2 bit widget piece of crap that nobody talks about any more). The Social Graph API could be something amazing though. Facebook numbers going down is big news, but hardly the end. In a years time we can see a real trend. The fact that Fox news is reporting this guy says a lot about Fox news as well.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Okay, maybe not forgiveable, Cynthia — understandable, perhaps :-)

    On Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 12:47 PM, Disqus

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks, Adam. And I realize I'm engaging in the same sort of thing.
    But at least I have a point :-)

    On Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 12:48 PM, Disqus

  • http://www.facereviews.com rodney rumford

    Matthew. Nice insights. I agree 100%. This guy is totally clueless. I published an article about this yesterday here. I think PC magazines reporting is in a death spiral. ;)

    http://facereviews.com/2008/02/25/pc-magazine-p

    Cheers!

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  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks, Rodney — just a small thing in your piece: the newspaper I
    work for is the Globe and Mail, not the Globe and Sun.

    On Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 3:43 PM, Disqus

  • http://joeduck.wordpress.com JoeDuck

    For a blogger, both of these pieces would be forgiveable

    Matt you need to do an article on the different standards you apply when writing here vs writing for the paper. Mike Arrington seems to bristle at the notion that standards of quality/accuracy are different in blogs vs mainstream, but as you note they are different….

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    See my comment above, Joe. I guess what I meant wasn't forgiveable,
    but understandable. I'm not saying bloggers should get away with that
    kind of thing either.

    On Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 6:39 PM, Disqus

  • http://www.howardlindzon.com howardlindzon

    the only sad thing is that it got picked up anyway and wasted space on Techmeme and that you dorks are talking about PC Mag :)

  • http://www.whiteelephant.ca Ivor Tossell

    I dunno. In fairness, I've been busy declaring Facebook over for ages. In fact, I'm increasingly convinced that the more popular Facebook becomes, the more over it gets. The trick is to leave oneself some wiggle room with the definition of “over”…

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Hey, who are you calling dorks? :-)

    On Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 8:17 PM, Disqus

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    That's true, Ivor — but some of your arguments actually make sense.

    On Tue, Feb 26, 2008 at 9:24 PM, Disqus

  • http://comments.deasil.com/2008/02/27/on-facebooks-death-spiral/ felix

    Heh, that piece was mildly crazy talk. An argument could be made that Facebook's past prime, unfortunately, Lance didn't make it. I didn't realize that he's Editor in Chief… that makes it even more sad.

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  • Cal Thompson

    jeez, what a mean-spirited dick. bad enough that you slime ulanoff – whose record over the last two decades plus stacks up quite well among the reading public – but your two paragraph drive-by attack is wholly devoid of cogent analysis or convincing argument.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks for the comment, Cal. I could have easily dismantled Lance's
    piece with cogent argument, but to tell you the truth, it really
    didn't seem worth it. He apparently spent only a few minutes and
    virtually no brain power putting his column together, so I thought I
    would do likewise.

  • Cal Thompson

    jeez, what a mean-spirited dick. bad enough that you slime ulanoff – whose record over the last two decades plus stacks up quite well among the reading public – but your two paragraph drive-by attack is wholly devoid of cogent analysis or convincing argument.

  • http://www.mathewingram.com/work mathewi

    Thanks for the comment, Cal. I could have easily dismantled Lance's
    piece with cogent argument, but to tell you the truth, it really
    didn't seem worth it. He apparently spent only a few minutes and
    virtually no brain power putting his column together, so I thought I
    would do likewise.

  • steven

    Even a nine-year-old could tell you that “Cal Thompson” is Lance Ulanoff.

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