One. Two. Three. Four. Five. Six. Seven. Eight. Nine. Ten.
As I was growing up, my mother instructed me that, when I got angry or frustrated, to count to ten before saying anything. Quite honestly, I’ve counted to ten ten-times over. I’ve bitten my tongue and clenched my teeth and I’ve really tried to let it go.
And now, I just can’t help myself any longer.
Over the last few weeks, I’ve read too many blog posts (notice how we don’t call them “stories” any more?) filled with invective, passed-along assumptions, and outright misinformation that I can’t help but to call into question the standard of “reporting” going on in the echo-chamber we call the blogosphere.
When in a twitter I bemoaned the lack of original reporting (only one reporter (cnet) and exactly zero bloggers writing this week about this silly DEMO v TechCrunch episode actually contacted me), the infamous blogger Robert Scoble suggested that if I’d blog my opinion, he’d link to it. Does that mean that a perspective only exists or matters if it’s expressed in a blog post? Or that Robert’s just moving too fast to do any investigation outside his narrow medium?
Scoble’s not the only guy living in the rarefied air of the echo-chamber. Sarah Lacy, who works for the much-respected Businessweek.com, conducted a five-minute video interview with TC50’s Mike Arrington and Jason Calacanis, during which the two leveled the usual slander. Did Lacy fire one tough question at the two? Did this journalist call me or the DEMO organization to get a response to serious accusations? Um, the answer to that would be “no.”
In fact, a few weeks ago, when Mike Arrington wrote an assumption-based and error-filled story that demanded an apology from the DEMO organization for a comment that was clearly not made by or on behalf of anyone at DEMO, Lacy picked up the story and wrote with righteous indignation that slander was the highest insult that could be leveled against a journalist. Did she call me or DEMO before posting her story? Again no.
Let me be clear: plagiarism is not the worst offense of a journalist; its root cause is: Laziness, shoddy reporting, and arrogance.
In a post last week, Scoble tried to make a case for the “new school” as more hip, effective, and informative than the “old school.” When misinformation is propagated out of laziness and inconsideration, that’s hardly informative. It’s not “new school;” it’s No School.
Robert Scoble took the time – it must have taken at least 30 minutes to click through to each of the 72 sites – to visit the Web sites of DEMOfall’s demonstrating companies. Here’s what he had to say:
I just visited every one of these companies. Boy do they almost all suck (at least their Web sites and if their sites suck, I can’t believe their products are going to do much better).
Now this is the same guy who, earlier in the same piece said that if I “really cared about the startups” I would have taken the time to put links in a post about them. Okay, our bad, in the rush to publish the list of DEMOfall companies, we posted the URLs of the companies, but didn’t link them. But seriously, if I cared about startups, I’d be sure there were links in my stories for the convenience of Robert and other bloggers? This from the guy who cared enough about startups to spend maybe 30 seconds looking at a pre-release Web site before declaring that the company and its products “suck.” Now there’s critical thinking and thoughtful review.
Listen, I’m not just picking on Scoble or Lacy. This shoot-from-the-lip blogging has been going on far too long. And maybe I can’t really blame guys like Scoble who now stoop to the lowest and simplest form of “criticism” in an effort to attract legions of followers. Those of us who care about civilized discourse and critical thinking carry the burden if we don’t stand up to the bully tactics. If we engage in invective as sport and don’t demand even the slightest semblance of balance, then maybe we get what we deserve: a pack of school yard bullies who believe theirs is the definitive voice in the “conversation.”
They’re better than that. We’re all better than that. Let’s start acting like it.