Mike Arrington seems to be accreting enemies like barnacles on an oil tanker. The latest stoush
involves Asher Moses
(his blog appears to be down, though the Google cache
isn't), journalist for the Fairfax newspapers (Sydney Morning Herald and The Age).
The last two weeks has brough a fresh wave of TechCrunch hate. I’ve learned to avoid responding to this stuff in the past because it just draws more attention to it, but tonight a reporter from the Syndey Morning Herald named Asher Moses emailed me and said “First off, great site - i’m a regular reader of yours.” He then went on to say he’s working on a story about the “disclosure scrubbed at techcrunch debacle.”
I took issue with his use of the term “debacle” before actually speaking to me - this tells me everything I need to know about this particular reporters slant on this “story,” and basically told him to fuck off. And while I’m not surprised that someone is looking to do a hit job on TechCrunch, I am surprised that traditional media is starting to see TechCrunch as newsworthy enough to attack. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
The first lesson to learn here is that if you want to act like a journalist when you talk to Mike Arrington - or any source for a story, for that matter - it is best that you do your homework on the type of language you should use. Journalists are treated with apprehension at the best of times, as most people who have had any previous contact are highly aware that a wrong word by them could result in adverse publicity. This is especially true when you're cold-calling a source, who doesn't know you from Adam and thus doesn't know about your own level of professionalism and history of ethical conduct (or otherwise).
I don't blame Mike for treating journalists like heavy ordnance, because he knows all too well that little red glowing dots are being painted all over his head and torso by snipers in the MSM who would love to bag him for their trophy cabinet. Asher should know that, being a reader of TechCrunch, and his first strategy should have been to spend time disarming Mike. Just giving a glib bit of praise wasn't going to cut it. Asher's language got him in trouble.
As for why the MSM are attacking Mike and TechCrunch, that is obvious to me, at least in the context of the tech media. First, TechCrunch is a direct competitor to tech media such as the technology sections of the Fairfax newspapers, which have been sickly at best since the last boom. If there is to be a new boom, then TechCrunch and its imitators are the media vehicles that will dominate new ad campaign budgets. Second, the TechCrunch model is an attack on tech journalism itself. Its writers are not arts degree holders or J-school graduates, they have MBAs and computer science backgrounds. They're startup CEOs, not journalists, who see writing not as a singular full-time profession but as a tool that is only one part of their personal arsenal of weapons to Get Shit Done. Third, Mike is beating them. He's getting the scoops that previously bolstered the circulation and/or page views of CNET, Computerworld and PC Magazine.
All of this leads to a situation of mutual distrust that is bound to spill over into spats like this. Mike is perfectly reasonable if you treat him with respect. He doesn't owe journalists anything, and if they want to get anything out of him then they have to realise who they're dealing with.
UPDATE: Along with all of the other kerfuffle in the blogosphere
, Herald journalists did themselves no favours by continuing to display arrogance in their responses. David Higgins left a highly condescending comment on Crunchnotes lecturing on how Mike must adopt formalised ethics and kowtow to journalistic institutions in order to join David's exclusive club of collegial old boys. Also, Stephen Hutcheon of the SMH's Mashup blog posted a petulant piece
which characterised the post you are reading as an "uninformed rant". Hey, my rants are all informed! Hutcheon saw fit to publish a private email from Arrington to Moses... does that break clause 3 of the MEAA Code of Ethics
about respecting confidences in all circumstances? Funny how the only supporting article that Stephen could find was at another MSM source. Not that there weren't more anti-Mike articles out there, but the Fairfax lads haven't shown any inclination to engage with bloggers at any level above paternalism. The more they talk, the higher they hoist their petard.