The blogosphere (but not CNET) seems to have moved on from this weekend’s diversionary game of whack-a-blogger. Valleywag started the mud slinging by suggesting that a bunch of FM authors, including me, were taking payoffs to write advertising content.
That wasn’t the case (see my previous posts on my position), but it didn’t stop authors like Malik and Kedrosky from immediately folding, and FM CEO Battelle from giving his authors a quick slap on the wrist for not disclosing the “conflict.” Suddenly I found myself fighting alone in a sea of controversy, which is right where I like to be. The main fallout from the event is that we are now looking for new ad agent representation.
Lots of bloggers took Valleywag’s side in this. I don’t agree with them, but I’m willing to engage in intelligent debate about the subject because I respect them. Dave Winer, Dan Farber, Robert Scoble, Mathew Ingram, Jeff Jarvis, and others are of the opinion this was the wrong thing to do.
But one man, Charles Cooper at CNET, seems to think this is his own personal Watergate scandal to exploit for his own professional gain. He’s taken the opportunity to write three articles now on CNET trashing the bloggers involved. His writing shows a distinct lack of interest in the facts of the matter – instead he’s on a personal crusade to sully the reputation of the blogging community in general.
In his original post Cooper made his unbiased position clear when he wrote “I sent e-mails both to Arrington and Malik and–surprise, surprise–heard nothing back.” For that I called him an idiot, because he obviously doesn’t know a thing about Malik and me. We both comment early and often on anything and everything. His “surprise, surprise” comment tells me he’s never read our blogs and knows nothing about how we operate. It was also clear from his article that he was jumping into a mob lynching, and screw the facts.
In his follow up article he referred to my idiot comment but left out the reason why (now I get to say, “surprise, surprise” Cooper) and included more attacks on our credibility. I ignored that one, as I certainly couldn’t fault someone for fighting back after being called an idiot.
For the record, I was in the car during the 45 minute window Cooper decided was long enough to wait before bashing me. Otherwise, I would have had the opportunity to call him an idiot much sooner.
But today he’s back, attacking the blogosphere again and saying we need to get serious about “church and state.”
This man knows nothing about blogging.
Most of the popular blogs, all of which started out as one-person shops, have now hired separate sales staff to handle sales. We have, Om has, etc. Hell, that’s the main reason we are working with FM Publishing, so that we don’t have to talk to advertisers directly. They turned out to be the wrong choice – throwing us under a bus as soon as the found it convenient, but it doesn’t change our position on the matter. We’re a small operation, we work 24 hours a day to break stories and write interesting content, and we’re trying to earn enough money to keep these things growing. Something Cooper would never understand.
He’s a paid journalist who has the luxury of sitting back and opining on others, even when he has no idea what he’s talking about. It’s what too many mainstream media journalists do – write about things they don’t know and don’t care about. And that’s why blogs are stealing their page views at an alarming rate. Based on my estimates, the average A-List blogger generates 10x the page views that the average journalist does. Why? Because we’re running our own businesses, because we support each other with linking, and because we care, deeply, about what we are writing about.
Those are things Cooper has no understanding of.
And while we are on the topic of CNET, let’s talk about the ethical position of their editorial staff. They are famous for stealing stories that bloggers got to first. When we broke the Google – Youtube acquisition, the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times both credited us for the story. But when we broke the Microsoft-Tellme acquisition, CNET wrote about it too (three weeks later) but didn’t give credit (even though it was widely discussed in the blogosphere). I let it go, since a link from Om sends a lot more page views than a link from CNET anyway. But if you ask a few tech bloggers if the same thing happened to them, they’ll tell you it did.
Another lovely CNET moment – the day they wrote an article criticizing TechCrunch for having typos.
(note that there are exceptions at CNET – Elinor Mills in particular, who’s an awesome writer and who has a standing job offer to come work for us at TechCrunch should she ever desire a substantial raise and stock options. The ZDNet staff is equally excellent.)
For these and other reasons, CNET is but a shadow of its former self.
So I apologize if I am hesitant to take advice from an uninformed and conflicted journalist who works for CNET. You represent everything that we bloggers are trying to kill, so excuse us if we choose to work out our issues without your input.
The next time you feel the need to condescend to the blogosphere and tell us what we need to do, Cooper, just stop. ‘Cause you aren’t in the club and your opinions are irrelevant. When you say “but I’m not sure we’re any closer to agreeing on the answer” to your church/state question, you forget that no one considers you worthy to be at the table participating in the debate.
You’d be much better off starting a blog of your own and seeing what this world is all about. In the meantime, why don’t you go write a story about Google acquiring GrandCentral. It was yesterday’s news, so it’s right up your alley.
Want to go another round, Cooper? I’m up for it. I’ve been trashed daily by Valleywag and hundreds of others for two years now. Nothing you can say will be nearly as difficult to handle (you aren’t half as smart, or 1/3 as mean, as Nick Denton), and I can throw mud with the best of them. But if you’ve had enough, good. Because I’d like to get back to writing about startups, if you don’t mind.
Update - I’m glad to see Dave Winer write on this as well. I wrote this before reading his post. We use different words but seem to come to a similar conclusion – get out of our business, Cooper. Dave’s light criticisms hurt far worse than anything you could ever write. And I also note Donna Bogatin’s post (she’s a former CNET/ZDNet writer), where she points to a little hypocrisy at CNET.