Tech blogs needs to become more like industry pubs
Kevin Roose of New York magazine writes Thursday that tech blogs should become more like industry trade publications.
Roose writes, “Here’s a proposal that could save both sides of this fight a lot of grief: Instead of trying to shame tech blogs into covering Silicon Valley more critically, let’s stop holding them to the standards of traditional journalism and start thinking of them instead as trade publications.
“In trade publications, readers don’t expect searing takedowns or accountability for powerful figures. They expect news about prominent industry leaders, new and notable companies, relevant trends in the industry, and maybe a page or two of job announcements. A trade publication cheering on the industry it covers isn’t a bad thing; it’s the publication’s entire raison d’être. It would be odd if Air Line Pilot ran a feature called “The 100 Worst Pilots in America” or if Garden Trade Specialist spent an entire issue calling gardening a piddling waste of time. And it would be equally odd if, say, the Columbia Journalism Review criticized Candy Industry Magazine for conflicts of interest with lollipop producers. Aggressive, adversarial journalism is simply not what trade publications are built for. And few people expect it from them.
“When trade publications try oppositional coverage, the gains are often minimal. The BeachMint flap is a perfect example. Pando’s reporter, Michael Carney, got six sources to tell him that BeachMint was circling the drain. But he apparently never called the founders of the company itself, and now the company is mounting an aggressive countercampaign against him and Pando as a whole. Having run the BeachMint story, and having had such an outcry result from it, will no doubt damage Pando’s relationship with other start-ups, which may in turn cause its day-to-day flow of scoops to suffer, and readers to lose out on news they would otherwise have gotten. It’s a bad outcome for everyone, except maybe Lanny Davis.
“TechCrunch and PandoDaily have the resources to be amazing trade publications. They’ve got the reporters, the sources, the conferences, and the industry credibility to be the go-to source for anyone in Silicon Valley who wants a sympathetic outlet to distribute news to the tech community. (There’s a reason Sean Parker didn’t give his mega-essay to the Times.) But their success is largely dependent on getting people in the tech industry to pick up the phone, which is why achieving perfect balance is nearly impossible. Too much cheerleading, and you lose mainstream credibility; too much watchdogging, and you take yourself outside the industry’s circle of trust.”
Read more here.