Robert N. Lee

Why I Hate TechCrunch, in a nutshell.

Everything I hate about “The New Media,” really, is on display in this late TechCrunch horror show. Here’s MG Siegler , crowing about how “the old media” just doesn’t get it, with their ethical standards and their editors and shit. The following should appall you. If it doesn’t, you’re as ignorant about why organizations and societies in general have any standards that might inconvenience you as…everybody at TechCrunch except Paul Carr, apparently:

“First and foremost, the concept of an “editor” at TechCrunch is essentially just a title and nothing more. Generally speaking, neither Mike nor Erick (TC’s two “co-editors”) are overlords that dictate what everyone else covers. With a few exceptions (mainly for newer writers), no one person even reads posts by any other author before they are posted.”

Siegler goes on to brag that his made-up title is “Creative Director.” I worked at one company with the cute made-up titles thing, once (it was not the same company with the horrible “bring your pets to work” policy, thank god). They wouldn’t have let you pick something like “Creative Director,” though. Know why? Because that’s a real title that means something and is really earned in the real world and generates real respect. Never mind that it’s a title in my field, one I’ve actually earned before, that sits on my resume and says “I did that” to prospective clients and employers.

(Also, the company already had a Creative Director, like media companies that aren’t TechCrunch do. You can also assume if they’ll let somebody take that title as a gag, TechCrunch treats the creative end of the business with at least as much contempt as they do editorial.)

But Siegler has no real skills or resume, he’s a professional blogger who thinks saying “We’re a crystal ball, bay-bee!” sounds like anything to grownups but the ravings of some coked-out fund raider just before the SEC shows up. So titles are meaningless to him. Just like journalistic ethics are meaningless to him. Just like editors are meaningless to him. And all of TechCrunch.

Which is why I don’t read TechCrunch, aside from the odd thing Siegler “writes” (You can’t even credit the guy with any particular charm or accomplishment in that regard, really. Or anybody else there. Maybe they need editors?), because I want to be infuriated by his cheerfully corrupt advertising-as-advocacy-journalism pose.

Oh, and Siegler? None, to answer your question, TechCrunch has broken no stories, ever. You wouldn’t even know what a story was, or how to break it.

Have fun convincing somebody at a real job in the future that your ( totally unique, nobody has ever done this before…) take on financial  journalism – zero standards and even less accountability – is the Big New Thing. Oh, and if it’s a real job, they will undoubtably have an Art Director or Creative Director, or hell, maybe a CCO. Be sure to take one of them out to lunch and explain all about your hilarious joke title at TechCrunch.

I can tell you what a Creative Director actually does, beforehand, if you don’t want to sound like the craven, foolish horse’s ass you are.

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EDIT:  I haven’t touched on any of the real issues behind the AOL/HuffPo/TechCrunch fighting this week, I assume people either know or can look it up. I do that too much, I realize, here’s a decent entry for those who haven’t kept up. In short: TechCrunch was a mom and pop financial blogging shop that always played fast and loose with ethics: the founder and original blogger, Michael Arrington, is an investor and occasional entrepreneur and the site blatantly champions his own projects, companies he’s interested and invested in, etc.

Unfortunately, Arrington decided to sell TechCrunch to a media conglomerate that isn’t defined by Gawker (And to be clear, I’m not a fan of Huffington Post’s, either, for similar enough reasons. They don’t pay writers and make shitloads of money off that kind of slavery, and because Ariana Huffington is a daffy New Ager, the paper’s the home of some of the absolute worst science and medical reporting on earth, and that’s saying something. I have no favorites in this fight. But she’s right about TechCrunch’s dodgy ethics, which will potentially get AOL in serious – like federal level criminal serious – trouble someday if they aren’t curbed. On top of being awful in the first place.), and now Arrington wants AOL to fund a TechCrunch-branded investment pool, and he got some idiots in AOL to champion that, and…

The amusing thing is, if anybody at TechCrunch knew even a tenth as much about business as I do, apparently (and that’s not a skillset I put on my resume or blog a lot about like I’ve got real expertise, even), they’d recognize a classic startup in transition situation re: Arrington. He’s the guy who’s great at starting a company, but you need to retire him out with a big golden parachute and maybe give him an honorary title and no power as soon as it becomes a bigger company, or part of one.

How come I can see that, but they can’t? Oh wait, everybody at TechCrunch already has bullshit honorary titles and they think that’s good business, that’s why.

Comments

  1. Love the article, been think a lot of the same things myself.  Just one correction, in the sentence  that starts  “Oh, and Siegler ”  shouldn’t it be TechCrunch has broken no stories instead of broken no stores.  

  2. On the subject of advocacy journalism, Bob Gibson, Executive Director of the UVA Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership, recently said: “Advocacy journalism can be a very valuable thing: people with a cause, people who want to change the world, people who want to take the country in a different direction. And there is more of that. There are more organizations that are doing long-term investigative reporting and generally they do buy into advocacy journalism. There are others that are forming that are taking the traditional tact of pursuing the truth wherever it leads, without a preordained direction, and we tend to trust those, I think, a little bit more because they have a track record—the good ones—of being balanced.” (Gibson appeared on the Charlottesville interview program Politics Matters with host Jan Paynter discussing journalism http://bit.ly/pm-gibson)

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