Posts tagged with ‘journalism

Hey, CNN. We need to talk.

The disappearance of Flight 370 remains unexplained a little over a week after last contact on March 8th. In that time, CNN has published over 350 articles on the subject, covering every possible and improbable angle of the mystery. 

This publishing frenzy is no longer news in any arguable sense — it’s merely fodder for clicks. If you went into a coma on the day Flight 370 went missing and knew nothing more than that fact, you’d likely be more usefully informed than someone who has been following CNN’s “coverage” day to day.

Out of the 350-plus articles I found by searching CNN’s archive, fewer than 10 contain worthwhile information that I would qualify as news. (The revelation that two passengers were onboard with stolen passports comes to mind.) The rest is a mix of speculation, debunked guesses, “expert” commentaries, and/or exposés on waiting families.

(Several articles talk about the anger felt by those families resulting from the glut of reports on the search. Sickening.)

And then there’s the stuff about Courtney Love, monsters, and meteors.

Of note: I didn’t find anything at all about Flight 370 as the initial reports were coming in. This could be due to the fact that breaking news stories were constantly in flux or because my search term (Flight 370) simply didn’t appear in those stories. It’s also possible that I overlooked a few articles while searching through the 35 pages of results. 

Several articles had similar titles but different URLs, but I only omitted a result if the URLs and headlines matched exactly. I captured URLs for all of the articles but — trust me — you don’t need to read any of them for any purpose, let alone mine.

So, without further adieu:

 03/08/14

  1. Quest: Malaysia Airlines jet was ‘at safest point’ in flight 
  2. U.S.-based firm: 20 employees on plane 
  3. Search for missing jet escalates 

03/09/14

  1. American Philip Wood aboard missing jet 
  2. Vast waters hide clues in hunt for missing Malaysia Airlines flight 
  3. Plane bore painters, pilgrims, others from around the world 
  4. Are flight recorders ‘antiquated?’ 
  5. International crews search for plane 
  6. Official: Lost jet ‘may have turned back’ 
  7. CNN Student News - March 10, 2014 

03/10/14

  1. Flight 370: Honoring the missing 
  2. History of Boeing’s 777 
  3. AC360 Exclusive: Brothers of missing American on Malaysia Airlines flight speak 
  4. Massive search for Flight 370 expands 
  5. Two passengers on Flight 370 were traveling with stolen passports 
  6. Flight 370: Honoring the missing 
  7. Piloting in an emergency 
  8. Possible causes for the loss of Flight 370 
  9. Search for Flight 370 expands 
  10. Agonized families await answers over missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 
  11. Stolen passports raise possibility of terrorism in missing flight 
  12. No sign of Malaysia Airline wreckage; questions over stolen passports 
  13. Boeing through the ages: Planes that changed the way we travel 
  14. Looking for a needle in a haystack: The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 
  15. Missing flight: Everything considered 
  16. Who travels with a stolen passport? 
  17. ONLY ON CNN: Thai PM comments on crash 
  18. Search underway for missing Flight 370 
  19. Police: Iranian booked tickets for two passengers with stolen passports 
  20. What happened to Flight 370? Four scenarios fuel speculation among experts 
  21. Police: Iranian requested flight for pals 
  22. CNN Student News - March 11, 2014 
  23. Families’ agonizing wait for news 
  24. EXCLUSIVE: Thailand Prime Minster Yingluck Shinawatra on missing airplane, domestic protests 
  25. Friends tell of fears as hopes dim for passengers on Malaysia Flight 370 
  26. 'There are no answers': Days later, no sign of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 
  27. Why so few clues about missing Malaysia flight? 
  28. Stolen passports used to board Flight 370 
  29. Flight 370 victim family holds out hope 
  30. Huntsman: Energy exports can hurt Putin 
  31. FBI to run thumbprints of two passengers 
  32. Is Flight 370 similar to past mysteries? 
  33. Is Flight 370 similar to past mysteries? 

03/11/14

  1. Flight 370: The mysterious trail 
  2. Woman claims to have spent 2011 flight in cockpit with currently missing co-pilot: “They were smoking…they were posing for pictures” 
  3. Frustrated families wait for answers about Flight 370 
  4. With few answers about Flight 370 wild theories are springing up 
  5. New questions in the Malaysia Airlines 370 disappearance 
  6. Investigating a mid-flight mystery 
  7. Major shift in the Flight 370 investigation 
  8. Sorting through the Flight 370 evidence 
  9. Families wait for news on Flight 370 
  10. Rep. Mike Rogers on Flight 370, Ukraine 
  11. Remembering the missing on Flight 370 
  12. Flight 370 families demand answers 
  13. Terrorism not ruled out for Flight 370 
  14. Major shift in the Flight 370 investigation 
  15. Flight 370: CIA not ruling out terrorism 
  16. Could a meteor have hit Flight 370? 
  17. Conspiracy theories surround Flight 370 
  18. Friend of Flight 370 couple pays tribute 
  19. Inside a virtual Boeing 777 
  20. King: Malaysia has dropped the ball 
  21. Was Malaysia Airlines 370 hijacked? 
  22. King: Malaysia has dropped the ball 
  23. Virtual look at Flight 370’s route 
  24. Take a virtual look inside a Boeing 777 
  25. Virtual look at Flight 370’s route 
  26. Aviation experts: Flight 370 scenarios 
  27. See how you can help locate Flight 370 
  28. Expert on the ‘point of max confusion’ 
  29. Former CIA official: I’d ‘bet a heavy paycheck’ against Flight 370 being terrorism 
  30. Why hasn’t technology located Flight 370? 
  31. Flight 370 family members wait in agony 
  32. Missing Malaysia plane way off course 
  33. Join the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 
  34. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Passport Mystery Solved 
  35. How does a Boeing 777 become invisible? 
  36. CNN Student News - March 12, 2014 
  37. CNN aboard aerial search and rescue mission for missing plane 
  38. Aerial view of search is ‘reality check’ 
  39. MH370: More questions than answers 
  40. Men with stolen passports identified 
  41. How did stolen passports get through? 
  42. Missing flight: This doesn’t smell right 
  43. Official: No plane wreckage found 
  44. Who were the mystery men on missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? 
  45. When passenger jets mysteriously disappear 
  46. Pilot’s take on Malaysia Air Flight 370 
  47. Search widens for missing Flight 370 
  48. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Mystery Passenger ID’d 
  49. Mystery Malaysia flight may have lost signal, gone hundreds of miles off course 

03/12/14

  1. Flight 370 compared to SilkAir crash 
  2. Hope remains in search for Flight 370 
  3. Breaking down possible wreckage images 
  4. FAA warned Boeing 777s had problems 
  5. China: Satellite images may show wreckage 
  6. Search expanded for missing flight 370 
  7. How YOU can help with Flight 370 search 
  8. 'Transponder' can help find Flight 370 
  9. Photos may show missing plane … now what? 
  10. Wife of miss Flight 370 passenger: “He’s my best friend and my soul mate…I just can’t wait for him to come back…I hope” 
  11. Pilot Ron Brown on satellite photos: “There is a lot of trash floating in those waters” 
  12. Veteran pilot on Flight 370 search 
  13. Fmr. NTSB official: Images are not MH370 
  14. Flight 370 compared to SilkAir crash 
  15. Breaking down possible wreckage images  
  16. Hope remains in search for Flight 370 
  17. Breaking down possible wreckage images 
  18. FAA warned Boeing 777s had problems 
  19. China: Satellite images may show wreckage 
  20. Search expanded for missing flight 370 
  21. How YOU can help with Flight 370 search 
  22. 'Transponder' can help find Flight 370 
  23. CNN Student News - March 13, 2014 
  24. Did Flight 370 veer off course? 
  25. Conspiracy theories surround Flight 370 
  26. Conflicting reports have families fuming 
  27. Satellite looking into missing Malaysia flight detects ‘suspected crash area’ 
  28. Malaysia Airlines: What is a transponder? 
  29. 'Phantom call' theory dismissed by experts 
  30. Malaysia Airlines: What is a transponder? 
  31. Timeline of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 
  32. Crowdsourcing volunteers comb satellite photos for Malaysia Airlines jet 
  33. Woman says she and friend flew in cockpit with missing jet’s co-pilot in 2011 
  34. Passengers’ fake passports shine light on Southeast Asia migration path 
  35. Husband’s eerie instructions for wife 
  36. Several false leads in the Flight 370 search 
  37. False leads in the Flight 370 search 
  38. Satellite photos may show missing plane‚Ķ what now? 
  39. The U.S. effort to find Flight 370 
  40. Satellite photos may show Flight 370 debris 
  41. Satellite photos & the search for Flight 370 
  42. Confusion over Malyasia’s Flight 370 investigation 
  43. Malaysian authorities face backlash 
  44. Hope and fear for the Flight 370 families 

03/13/14

  1. Soucie: Pings are call waiting for answer 
  2. Do Malaysian officials’ reports add up? 
  3. Communications system adds to mystery 
  4. Honoring the missing on board Flight 370 
  5. U.S. Navy Commander searching for Flight 370: “If something was in the Gulf of Thailand we would have found it” 
  6. What are search ships looking for? 
  7. What does a turned off transponder say about the fate of Flight 370? 
  8. Barbara Starr with new information on missing Flight 370: “There is a strong likelihood that the flight is at the bottom of the Indian Ocean” 
  9. Theories on the disappearance of Flight 370 
  10. If Flight 370 flew for hours with its transponder off‚Ķ where could it be? 
  11. Searching for signs of Flight 370 
  12. Theories on Flight 370’s disappearance 
  13. Massive shift in Flight 370 search area 
  14. Was MH370 stolen? 
  15. 'Significant likelihood' plane in ocean 
  16. Expert: Mechanical failure not a factor 
  17. New clue in missing Malaysia plane 
  18. CNN’s GUT CHECK for March 13, 2014 
  19. Pilot: 777s don’t just disappear 
  20. Crowdsourcing search for Malaysian plane goes viral, but no luck so far 
  21. Sometimes you never find the crash site 
  22. The anguish of waiting 
  23. Malaysian officials deny plane rumors 
  24. No debris found in South China Sea 
  25. Search for missing Malaysia Airlines plane expands to Indian Ocean 
  26. Pilot: 777s don’t just disappear 
  27. Crowdsourcing search for Malaysian plane goes viral, but no luck so far 
  28. Transponder’s fate may prove key to solving Malaysia Airlines puzzle 
  29. Missing Malaysia airliner: Questions and answers 
  30. Nine aviation mysteries highlight long history of plane disappearances 
  31. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Days pass, no word of loved ones 
  32. Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: What we know and don’t know 
  33. Oceanographer ‘astounded’ by latest twist 
  34. Is Flight 370 still sending signals? 
  35. SOTU Scoop 
  36. W.H.: Flight 370 search expanding west 
  37. Using high-tech tools to find flight 370 

03/14/14

  1. WSJ: Flight 370 probe focuses on sabotage 
  2. Could Flight 370 have been sabotaged from within the cabin? Experts say yes 
  3. WSJ report Flight 370 Sabotage reaction 
  4. Pilot’s friend: He is caring, loves job 
  5. Sorting through Flight 370 information 
  6. Was MH370 sabotaged from the cabin? 
  7. Re-creating missing plane’s timeline 
  8. WSJ report: Flight 370 possible sabotage 
  9. WSJ: Plane probe focuses on sabotage 
  10. Expert: My money is on hijacking 
  11. Re-creating MH370’s altitude change 
  12. Loved ones hope for hijacking of plane 
  13. Do Chinese satellite images hold clues? 
  14. Sunday on SOTU 
  15. CNN Political Programming: Sunday, March 16 
  16. Recreating MH Flight 370 
  17. Fmr. FAA official weighs in on flight 370 
  18. Report: Plane took 1 of 2 paths 
  19. SOTU Scoop 
  20. US: Lithium batteries being examined 
  21. Flying business 
  22. Was the missing Malaysian flight stolen? 
  23. Earthquake hits Flight 370 search zone 
  24. Plane theories: Mystery of Flight 370 
  25. Flight 370 defies tracking technology 
  26. Inside a Boeing 777 
  27. Andaman Chronicle Editor: “no chance” Malaysian Airline flight 370 landed on Andaman or Nicobar Islands 
  28. Five things to know about India’s Andaman Islands 
  29. Who are the missing Flight 370 pilots? 
  30. Flight 370 hijacking theories: Improbability or best hope? 
  31. Malaysia Flight 370: Amid a sea of questions, 28 of the most compelling 

03/15/14

  1. Police search pilots’ homes 
  2. Search zeroing in on Indian Ocean 
  3. Watch AC360’s tributes honoring the 239 people missing on Flight 370 
  4. The massive search area for Flight 370 
  5. Malaysian PM points to deliberate action 
  6. A portrait of missing passengers 
  7. Mystery of missing plane still unfolding 
  8. Transcript: Malaysian Prime Minister’s statement on Flight 370 
  9. Focus on ‘two corridors’ in plane search 
  10. Sinking fast inside a flight simulator 
  11. Flight 370: Analyzing the technical data 
  12. U.S. officials lean toward ‘those in the cockpit’ behind missing flight 

03/16/14

  1. Tracking Malaysia Air flight 370 
  2. Private ships search for missing flight 
  3. Sunday Chatter: Putin, 2014 and the missing Malaysian airplane 
  4. The mystery of Malaysia Air 370 
  5. The search for Flight 370 continues 
  6. Will the mystery of Flight 370 be solved? 
  7. Will mystery of Flight 370 be solved? 
  8. Sen. John McCain: U.S. needs ‘fundamental reassessment’ of Russia relationship 
  9. Sleepless nights, agonizing days for father of Flight 370 passenger 
  10. The mystery of Malaysia Air 370 
  11. Why so many watch plane coverage 
  12. Coverage of Flight 370: The demand for news 
  13. The mystery of Malaysia Air 370 
  14. WEB EXTRA: A twisted timeline of flight 370 updates 
  15. What does the U.S. know about MH 370? 
  16. Frustrations boil over for families 
  17. SOTU EXTRA: What is the black box? 
  18. Malaysia Flight 370: The 10 big questions 
  19. Pilot: Whoever changed flight path was an expert 
  20. Plane takeovers a dangerous reality 
  21. Lives, not numbers: Snapshots of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 passengers 
  22. WEB EXTRA: A timeline of flight 370 
  23. Coverage of MH370: The demand for news 
  24. More countries join Flight 370 search 
  25. What does the U.S. know about MH 370? 
  26. History’s big mysteries: Questionable deaths, missing people, monsters 

03/17/14

  1. Relatives of missing passengers react 
  2. A closer look at the Flight 370 pilots 
  3. Partner: I’m not giving up hope 
  4. Flight 370: ‘A cacophony of conjecture’ 
  5. Hope and uncertainty for Flight 370 families 
  6. Hope & uncertainty for Flight 370 families 
  7. Jim Tilmon: Where was ground control in all of this? 
  8. Could Flight 370 have flown below radar 
  9. Investigators search homes of Flight 370 pilots 
  10. U.S. Navy Commander on searching the Indian Ocean: There probably isn’t enough ships and aircraft in the world to search every inch 
  11. Might missing Flight 370 have landed, then refueled, in the name of terrorism? 
  12. Flight 370’s timeline adds to the mystery 
  13. Fllght 370: Waiting is the Hardest Part 
  14. NYT: Computer sent missing plane off path 
  15. Flight 370 pilots’ homes searched 
  16. What the data says about Flight 370 
  17. What may have happened inside the cockpit? 
  18. U.S. adjusts role in Flight 370 search 
  19. Flight 370’s timeline adds to the mystery 
  20. Flight 370: Landed, and refueled? 
  21. Investigators focus on crew, passengers 
  22. Concerns about pilot’s mental state 
  23. Expert: Loopholes in Malaysian security 
  24. Politics of Flight 370 pilot questioned 
  25. Flight 370: What do we know? 
  26. Where plane changed course a major clue 
  27. Flying Below the Radar with Greg Charvat 
  28. Could a plane hide from radar detection? 
  29. How could plane fly under the radar? 
  30. When did key system shut down? 
  31. Can passengers’ phones help in search? 
  32. Flight 370 investigation looks at pilots 
  33. The 45-second guide to Boeing’s 777 
  34. Amanpour: ‘greatest aviation drama’ 
  35. What Could Have Happened to Flight 370? 
  36. Report: Plane flew as low as 5,000 feet 
  37. Families wait for word of missing flight 
  38. Beijing’s Lido Hotel a grim backdrop as relatives cling to hope 
  39. Searching for Flight 370 
  40. Finding Flight 370 
  41. Beijing’s Lido Hotel a grim backdrop as relatives cling to hope 
  42. Searching for Flight 370 
  43. Finding Flight 370 
  44. Help from above: Satellite signals can confirm a plane’s identity 
  45. Why are we so gripped by missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? 
  46. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Get up to speed on the latest developments 
  47. Malaysian government uncomfortable in spotlight over missing plane 
  48. Malaysia Flight 370: The 10 big questions 
  49. Malaysia Airlines: Pilots of the missing plane; suspected in ‘deliberate action?’ 
  50. Civil aviation engineer aboard Flight 370 

03/18/14

  1. Who was in command of missing airplane? 
  2. 'No motive' in disappearance of airplane 
  3. Watch flight simulator attempt theory 
  4. Why were no calls made from Flight 370? 
  5. Sarah Bajc: Please don’t hurt the people on the plane 
  6. Flight 370: Analyzing the facts and breaking down theories 
  7. Flight 370: Analyzing facts and theories 
  8. Holding out hope for Flight 370 survivors 
  9. AC360 Exclusive: Inside ACARS 
  10. Recreating Flight 370’s sharp left turn 
  11. Recreating Flight 370’s sharp left turn 
  12. Partner of missing man: Plane was taken 
  13. Examining MH370 conspiracy theories 
  14. Flight 370: Examining fire theory 
  15. MH370: Search area nearly size of U.S. 
  16. Flight 370 questions? We’ve got answers 
  17. Did a fire take down Flight 370? 
  18. Missing plane talk on jihadist websites 
  19. Former pilot: I flew the missing plane 
  20. See how search area compares to U.S. map 
  21. U.S. Officials: No link seen between missing jet and 2001 Malaysian hijack plot 
  22. No Motive in Disappearance of Airplane 
  23. Who Was In Command of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? 
  24. U.S. Officials: No link seen between missing jet and 2001 Malaysian hijack plot 
  25. Inside the cockpit of a Boeing 777 
  26. Thailand radar picked up unknown signal 
  27. Thailand radar tracked unkown signal 
  28. Courtney Love is as obsessed with the missing plane as you are 
  29. What Happened in Cockpit of Flight 370? 
  30. Missing plane’s pilots: Is there a clue in their psychological evaluations? 
  31. Could Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have slipped by radar? 
  32. Malaysian politician: Flight 370 pilot supported me, but was no hijacker 
  33. Astronaut: New satellites could track missing planes 
  34. New evidence in Flight 370 search explains plane’s path 
  35. Pilots, passengers of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 under scrutiny 
  36. CNN Student News - March 18, 2014 
  37. Malaysia Airlines passenger’s partner says she’s certain her soul mate is alive 
  38. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 search grows as pilots face increased scrutiny 
  39. Key moments emerge in tracking of missing Malaysia Airlines plane 
  40. Recreating Flight 370’s sharp left turn 
  41. Could Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 have slipped by radar? 
  42. Did terrorists take control of Flight 370? 
  43. Theories abound from experts and amateurs alike on fate of flight 
  44. #370Qs: Your questions answered 

03/19/14

  1. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Some Data Deleted From Flight Simulator 
  2. Families frustrated with lack of info 
  3. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Southern search area seen as most likely 
  4. Families not getting enough support 
  5. Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: How do passenger jets change flight paths? 
  6. Flight 370 puts Israel on high alert: “Israel has close to zero margin for error in countering and protecting itself against a hijacked airplane” 
  7. How do ocean recoveries work? No clue too small after crashes 
  8. Why were there no phone calls from Malaysia Airlines Flight 370? 
  9. MH 370 pilot: Home flight simulator seized in hope of clues 
  10. Experts answer #370Qs tweets about missing Malaysian flight 
  11. Confessions of a nervous flier 
  12. Ex-pilot: MH370 pilots possible heroes 
  13. Malaysia probe focuses on westerly turn 
  14. Wailing mom dragged from briefing room 
  15. Searching for the plane truth — amid speculation 
  16. Shouts, chaos as families protest handling of missing plane 

Phew!

On a related note, Vox promises to be the anti-CNN of news outlets:

The media is excellent at reporting the news and pretty good at adding commentary atop the news. What’s lacking is an organization genuinely dedicated to explaining the news. That is to say, our end goal isn’t telling you what just happened, or how we feel about what just happened, it’s making sure you understand what just happened.

We’re going to deliver a lot of contextual information that traditional news stories aren’t designed to carry, and we’re hiring journalists who really know the topics they cover. There’s no way we’ll be able to help readers understand issues if we haven’t done the work to understand them ourselves.

I for one can’t fucking wait.

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Tech Blogs Drop the Ball: Ignoring Aaron Swartz

A few days ago, information activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide.

If you follow tech, you probably read about this on sites like GizmodoThe Verge, or TechCruch.

Way back in 2011, Aaron Swartz was indicted on charges of data theft, and was facing up to 35 years in prison and one million dollars in fines.

You probably read about that on similar sites — way back in 2011. 

Now, Aaron Swartz is dead and tech blogs are eager to tie his suicide to an overzealous prosecution. That’s great, except…

…where were the investigations in August of that year? In September? In October? November? December? What about 2012?

That brings us to today.

Aaron Swartz’s case — assuming it was indeed shaping up to be a gross miscarriage (or misappropriation) of justice — was just as outrageous in each of those months. The story was just as compelling.

Except a story that isn’t ever written isn’t a story at all. 

Gizmodo in July of 2011:

Former Reddit Employee Charged with Data Theft

Gizmodo in August, September, October, November, and December of 2011 and all of 2012:

"…"

Gizmodo in January of 2013:

Former Reddit Co-Owner and Internet Activist Aaron Swartz Commits Suicide (Updated)

The Void of Losing Someone You Don’t Know—in Memory of Aaron Swartz

Academics Are Tweeting Out PDFs of Journal Articles in Memory of Aaron Swartz

MIT Is Launching an Internal Investigation To Determine Its Possible Role In Aaron Swartz’s Suicide

Anonymous Hacks MIT in Aaron Swartz’s Name

Read/Write in July of 2011:

Internet Activist Aaron Swartz Indicted for Data Theft: Downloading Millions of Academic Articles

Read/Write in August, September, October, November, and December of 2011 and all of 2012:

"…"

Read/Write in January of 2013:

MIT To Launch Internal Investigation Following Death Of Aaron Swartz

The Persecution Of Aaron Swartz

ArsTechnica in July of 2011:

Former Reddit co-owner arrested for excessive JSTOR downloads

ArsTechnica in August, September, October, November, and December of 2011 and all of 2012:

"…"

ArsTechnica in January of 2013:

Swartz supporter dumps 18,592 JSTOR docs on the Pirate Bay

MIT president calls for “thorough analysis” of school’s involvement with Swartz

Anonymous defaces MIT website with memorial for Aaron Swartz

Aaron Swartz and me, over a loosely intertwined decade

Family blames US attorneys for death of Aaron Swartz

Government formally drops charges against Aaron Swartz

TechCrunch doesn’t seem to have a useful search feature — I couldn’t find anything from 2011 relating to Aaron Swartz and sorting “by date” inexplicably turns up no results even though sorting “by relevance” turns up plenty — but the results I get do include this insightful article…

…written in January of 2013:

Aaron Swartz, Asking For Help, 119 Days Ago

What the fuck happened, here?

My main recollection of the earlier story (the way back in 2011 version) was boorish fact-checking about whether or not Swartz was “actually” a Reddit co-founder or just an early Reddit employee. Truly, hard hitting investigative journalism when you consider that over a year later, bloggers are coming out of the woodwork to describe his genius and the travesty of justice he had been facing (alone, apparently) ever since.

My takeaway is this:

The bread and butter of tech blogging (or just plain ol’ blogging blogging) is reactive journalism, and very rarely (too rarely) does anyone exhibit any form of proactive journalism. That’s hard work. It’s long nights and dead ends and patience and possible failure. It’s trust and reputation, which comes from sources first and follow from readers second.

As often as not, these are values that are seen as anathema to keeping it real as a tech blogger. Too traditional.

And, anyway, who wants to face dead ends when you can just wait for dead kids? 

That’s where the real page views are. 

Dan Lyons and the art of the changeup

Dan Lyons:

Hit men, click whores, and paid apologists: Welcome to the Silicon Cesspool

Separately another VC recently told me his firm recently had passed on opportunities to invest in some new tech blogs that were proposing a business model he described as “hush money.” Potential investors were being offered “most favored nation” status for themselves and their portfolio companies if they put money into the site.

This is what now passes for “journalism” in Silicon Valley: hired guns and reformed click-whores who have found a way to grab some of the loot for themselves. This is perhaps not surprising. Silicon Valley once was home to scientists and engineers — people who wanted to build things. Then it became a casino. Now it is being turned into a silicon cesspool, an upside-down world filled with spammers, liars, flippers, privacy invaders, information stealers — and their grubby cadre of paid apologists and pygmy hangers-on.

Dan Lyons:

Guess who else wants to “monetize his influence” and become a blogger slash angel investor?

Yeah. Good grief. Fucking Scoble. I just posted an article about it here on the Daily Beast.

Dan Lyons:

So: Godspeed, Robert Scoble. May the force be with you—and with all the other hacks for hire who will soon be following in your footsteps.

Dan Lyons:

I’ve been responding to comments on a post about my article on the Daily Beast today about Robert Scoble looking to get involved with an angel fund. This has set off a bit of a debate about online journalism and whether we’re all a bunch of click whores…

This is not to say one group is better than the other. Bloggers can do this, but mainstream reporters play by a different set of rules than bloggers. Having been both a blogger and a mainstream media guy, I see value on both sides. I definitely know which side was more fun. If bloggers can find ways to get rich off their blogs, more power to them.

Oh, fuck off, Dan Lyons. If that’s not what you were trying to say, you’ve got an awfully interesting way of not saying it. Everyone saw where the goalposts were, and it’s pretty clear that you’re now trying to move them.

Let’s be real, here: Dan Lyons doesn’t write anything particularly interesting about tech and no one really cares when he does make a feeble attempt to do so.

Because of that, he appears to be incredibly jealous of the reach of some of the internet’s more popular (and more outspoken) bloggers. He even admits this (via a hypothetical) in the first article linked above:

It’s tough being a journalist, especially if you’re covering technology and living in Silicon Valley, because it seems as if everyone around you is getting fabulously rich while you’re stuck in a job that will never, ever make you wealthy. What’s worse is that all these people who are getting rich don’t seem to be any brighter than you are and in fact many of them don’t seem very bright at all. So of course you get jealous. 

This jealously is manifesting in increasingly personal attack rants and is taking up time that could (presumably) be better spent being relevant as a tech reporter for The Daily Beast. 

I’m not sure Lyons ever got over the fact that he’s never been more popular (and probably never will be more popular) than he was back when he was pretending to be a man he seemed to despise.

And, of course, having retired Fake Steve Jobs, his only chance at staying relevant seems to be publicly shitting on people he’s clearly jealous of.

Ouch.

No one gives a shit about mainstream tech journalists these days. Those of us who care about technology news get better reviews and timelier information from popular tech blogs than we’ll ever get from people like Dan Lyons, and I’m sure that’s an awfully hard pill for some in the old guard to swallow. Especially those who fall into the category of too old to change, too young to retire. 

Instead of accepting that and putting his head down and doing the “real” work he claims “real” journalists do, Lyons is going to spend the rest of his career pleading with people to give a fuck that technology blogs don’t live up to his expectations. The problem is, most people who read tech blogs don’t share those expectations.

He knows it’s not going to change anything, but at least it’ll drive some clicks.

Arringtown and MG-Boys

There’s an early scene in the skate documentary Dogtown and Z-Boys where team Zephyr crashes a 1970s skateboarding competition, hoping to demonstrate new tricks. They were full of attitude and ego. They were also, by and large, thuggish assholes with a huge chip on their shoulder.

MG Siegler and Kara Swisher: Skirmish!

TechCrunch’s MG Siegler today posted a somewhat boring article regarding the recent Wall Street Journal scoop (speculation?) regarding the release of a Verizon iPhone in early 2011. 

Siegler insinuates that WSJ author Yukari Iwatani Kane was “fed” this story (and several others) by Apple execs. The idea, of course, is that Apple can control the message by handing “scoops” to favored journalists at outlets such as the WSJ:

Now, I of course don’t know for sure that Apple fed WSJ this story — but let’s look at the recent history. In January, as rumors were swirling about the iPad, the WSJ had a story suggesting the tablet computer could run around $1,000. At the time, I pointed out why this reeked of Apple setting expectations low so they could blow them out of the water. A few days later, a former Marketing Manager at Apple backed this up. The result? Steve Jobs on stage announcing the iPad would start at just $499. Boom.

Enter Kara Swisher:

No game. HE. [SIEGLER] MADE. IT. UP. I knew the particulars of several of those stories and it was pure shoe leather reporting by Kane on them and she published them when they were done and not on some fictional schedule to help Apple. 

I know it is super interesting to speculate otherwise, but it’s not the case and to smack around someone who does their job with fiction is the height of hackery.

BTW, I no longer work for the Journal, although we have the same owner (no, we don’t plit secretly together), but it’s simply unfair to a really good reporter.

Interesting.

Before reading Swisher’s comment, I didn’t even really think about Siegler’s claims. Now, though, it’s interesting to me when I consider this back-and-forth alongside the ongoing “turf wars” that are waged between professional bloggers and professional journalists.

It’s not surprising to me that tech bloggers, a group which tends to rely on anonymous sources and TMZ-styled reporting, would insinuate that mainstream journalists only get their stories by being handed privileged information on a silver platter.

The idea seems to be that journalists don’t ever have to do any real work.

Siegler never offers evidence of a cozy relationship between Apple and Kane, and Swisher seems to deny it.

I suspect the truth lay someone in the middle: The Journal likely has access to Apple and ears in the right places because of the way it operates and because of its cachet in the industry, but this is probably rooted in the sort of “shoe leather reporting” that Swisher mentions in her comment. Boring stuff like making calls, asking questions, waiting for responses, etc. You know: Journalism.

It’s really the difference between having respect, and not having it and bloggers are really touchy about the fact that they often don’t have it. Though, they do their best to make believe they don’t want or need it.

Still, none of that is the same thing as sitting around and waiting for Steve Jobs (or someone acting on Jobs’s behalf) to call in with a scoop, and that’s really what Siegler seems to believe is happening. 

Yet, why would Kane continue to report scoops from a source that, according to Siegler, purposefully fed her false information regarding the price of the as-of-then unreleased iPad?

Doesn’t make much sense. In the end, this really starts to feel like the complaints/accusations of someone who is upset that a hard worker has been given opportunities.

With friends like Michael Arrington…

I first learned of Michael Arrington’s “scoop” regarding possible Super Angel investor collusion via this Mike Davidson tweet:

Mike Arrington uncovers collusion among prominent SF angel investors. Really ballsy, but great reporting here, if true: http://wp.me/pNaxW-VJI

I read the article around 10 O’Clock and by then several prominent outlets—and Gawker—had picked up the story. Most were longer versions of Davidson’s tweet: “Arrington’s got a huge pair of cajones.” None seem to evaluate Arrington’s version of events.

Something feels off about his reporting, though. 

Yesterday I was tipped off about a “secret meeting” between a group of “Super Angels” being held at Bin 38, a restaurant and bar in San Francisco. “Do not come, you will not be welcome,” I was told.

So I did what any self respecting blogger would do – I drove over to Bin 38, parked my car and walked in.

The last sentence first: It’s intriguing and important to me that he refers to himself as a blogger, and not a journalist, because I think his reporting is a great example of the difference between blogging and journalism. I suspect a “self respecting” journalist might have reported this differently. More on that in a bit.

Arrington’s tip-off is also intriguing. Why would the tipster tell Arrington not to go, knowing as he must have that Arrington is in the business of sticking his nose where it’s probably not wanted?

"Hey, man. Something super awesome is about to go down. Super secret. COUGH. At Bin 38. COUGH. It would be a HUGE scoop. Don’t, uh, go. You’re not in the club. Wink, wink. Seriously though. Don’t go.”

Arrington’s later sources are some of the investors who were at the actual meeting, and Arrington says he was tipped off by a guy who said “don’t come” which leads me to believe that the tipster was going. “Don’t go” could mean anything but “don’t come” infers participation.

in the back of the restaurant in a private room was a long oval table. Sitting around the table, Godfather style, were ten or so of the highest profile angel investors in Silicon Valley. These investors, known as “super angels” because they have mostly moved on to launch small venture funds of their own, are all friends of mine. I knew each person in the room very, very well.

Emphasis mine.

Arrington then paraphrases the reaction of the investors once they realize he’s crashed their party:

Me: Hey!

Person who was talking: oh, oh no.

Me: Hi. I heard you guys were here and I wanted to stop by and say hi.

Them: dead silence.

Me: so….

Them: Deafening silence.

Me: This is usually where you guys say “sit down, have a drink.”

Them: not one sound

Me: This is awkward. I guess I’ll be leaving now.

At least, I hope this is paraphrased because otherwise it reads like dialogue from an incredibly boring detective story. As written, I can only assume that saloon music was playing right up until the “Hey!” at which point a scratching record noise cut through the room, heads turned in unison, everyone froze, and…

…silence. (But for cricket noises.)

"Cut! Great job guys! Let’s take an early lunch."

The whole scene is incredibly bizarre. Arrington doesn’t help his cause by referencing The Godfather, the gold standard for intense crime dramas, and then launching into an episode of the Ten Stooges.

I’ve never seen a more guilty looking group of people. But that alone isn’t that big of a deal. Lively conversations often die quickly when I arrive, and I’ve learned not to take it personally. But I did sniff around a little afterwards, and have spoken to three people who were at that meeting. And that’s where things got interesting.

It’s about fucking time.

Why on Earth did they have a look of guilt on their faces? Surely the meeting in and of itself wasn’t illegal? Maybe it had something to do with the fact that someone who was a mutual friend of all involved but who wasn’t invited to the party showed up anyway?

In their private room.

Speaking of which: Did Arrington have to knock out a Bin 38 server, don his apron, and walk in with drinks? For a bunch of fearful, guilt-ridden, would-be criminals, they sure didn’t pick a very private private room.

But the conversation has evolved to the point where these super angels are actually colluding (and I don’t use that word lightly) to solve a number of problems, say multiple sources who are part of the group and were at the dinner. According to these souces, the ongoing agenda includes:

It’s curious to me that Arrington very specifically mentions “three” sources “who were at that meeting”, but switches to the less specific “multiple sources who are part of the group and were at the dinner” only a paragraph later.

At least two people attending were extremely uneasy about the meetings, and have said that they are only there to gather information, not participate.

So, two of his three or multiple sources were uncomfortable. Does this mean the third source had no issue admitting to Arrington that they were colluding? “Yeah, we were totally colluding, but I’m comfortable with that.” Why would the third man blow the whistle or speak to Arrington if he wasn’t uncomfortable with the group’s actions?

Perhaps he was uneasy, but not “extremely” uneasy?

One source has also said that there is a wiki of some sort that the group has that explicitly talks about how the group should act as one to keep deal valuations down.

These men are incredibly inept if Arrington’s allegations are true. Nothing says “master criminal” like a public record of illegal activities, stored on the internet.

I’m not going to say who was at the meeting since at least a couple of the attendees are saying they were extremely uncomfortable with the direction the conversation was going. But like I said, it included just about every major angel investor in Silicon Valley.

On a side note, this is a difficult post to write, because I call nearly every person in that room a friend. But these actions are so completely inappropriate it has to be called out.

This is where I start to feel as though he’s acting like a blogger rather than a journalist.

By providing hints about the identities of “10 or so” prominent investors, Arrington is inviting speculation about the identities of men who (he alleges) are engaging in illegal collusion and price fixing activities. How many prominent Silicon Valley investors are there? How many are now suspects in an allegation of collusion due to Arrington’s vague write-up?

Arrington refuses to name names because a handful of those men now claim to have cold feet regarding activities that they are nevertheless wrapped-up in. Activities that Arrington wouldn’t know about but for their willingness to talk about them. Further, he admits that part of his reticence in reporting is based upon established “friendly” relationships with all of the investors involved. 

Arrington claims that the group is now “on notice” but what does that even mean? Is it a veiled threat to stop whatever it is they’re doing? Is he imploring them to self-regulate their behavior? (“Please, guys? I really, really still want to be friends!”) Given that they’ve already (allegedly) broken the law, real journalism seems like it would have entailed waiting longer than a day to collect all the facts and evidence before nailing these investors to the wall. 

Reading Arrington’s post, I just can’t help but get the feeling that he blew a major story by rushing to publish the rather boring first act of a much longer drama. Part of that is because he’s letting personal relationships get in the way of his reporting.

If he’s got at least two uneasy sources who are deeply involved in the discussions, why rush it?

I attempted to get in touch with someone at Bin 38 to confirm that a group of investors did, in fact, have a table and a meeting on the day Arrington claims he crashed their party—as well as names—but, as expected, I was told by owner Don Davis they couldn’t “offer personal information about any of our guests.”

He did, however, invite me in for a glass of wine and bite to eat. 

Savvy. 

Oh well. It was worth a shot. Now, if only I lived in San Francisco. 

At this stage, Arrington has raised more questions than he’s answered. I thought investigative journalism worked the other way around? Meanwhile, he’s left the real scoop to someone else.

UPDATE 01

Dave McClure admits to having been at the meeting, and he paints a decidedly less damning picture:

mike arrington is a friend, an imposing figure, and a hard-nosed, hard-working journalist. that said, he’s dead fucking wrong about there being some story around ” collusion” (def’n). makes for great red meat on TechMeme & Twitter, but it’s just so much horseshit.

Two things:

  1. If Arrington’s allegations are correct, despite McClure’s denial, his rush to publish has put all the power in the hands of those who were involved. Here’s hoping Arrington has more evidence than he’s presented thus far. Given that less than 24 hours passed between “developing story” and “published allegation” I have my doubts.
  2. If Arrington is wrong, as indicated by McClure’s denial, he’s a dolt. As a blogger though, he’ll get away with being wrong because as soon as he posts a scoop about something else that may or may not be accurate, this will all be forgotten. If you’re looking for the real distinction between blogging and journalism, there it is. 

Assuming Arrington is wrong, and this was just a friendly meeting of investors, that leaves the question of why his sources—people involved with the meeting—would indicate otherwise? Why would his initial source tell him he wouldn’t be welcome? Did the investors simply not want a nosy blogger there looking for a scoop not realizing that the bigger risk is that he’d implicate them in criminal activity? This denial simply raises even more questions.

UPDATE 02

Despite the fact that Arrington, if wrong, is libeling McClure at worst and implicating him in criminal activity through a series of honest journalistic mistakes at best, McClure doesn’t seem too put off by Arrington’s allegations. He denies them, yes, but he also seems more than happy to continue his friendship with Arrington as though his “friend” didn’t just stab him in the back.

Which makes me wonder: Perhaps there is collusion going on, here. Perhaps Arrington and several of his investor friends concocted a non-story which would culminate in a tit-for-tat, back and forth pissing match that would be difficult to prove and would lead to exposure for TechCrunch and…what?…for McClure and his cohorts?

All of the irregularities I mention above start to make a lot more sense under this scenario. Maybe Arrington and McClure only raise questions because there are no actual answers?

UPDATE 03

If Arrington’s allegations are true, this is a huge story. It’s way bigger than anything else posted on TechCrunch right now. Curiously, it’s been removed from the headlining “top stories” module. An hour ago, it was still listed there as a “must read” article. It’s now buried two pages deep.

UPDATE 04

As expected, this story is all over the place and we’re starting to see some actual analysis of the claims and counter-claims. Daily Finance wonders if anything can be proven, assuming Arrington sticks to his story:

Goldman notes that at this point the allegations don’t rest on much hard evidence — it’s all hearsay. “I’m skeptical that the facts are that extreme, especially because Arrington wasn’t at the meeting, and so is relying on secondhand information where people might view the conversations very differently,” he said.

I made a similar point when I wondered if Arrington moved too fast by publishing his story prior to gathering more evidence, but it’s not really true that this is all hearsay: We still haven’t heard from Arrington’s sources who—if it’s true that they took part in these discussions—would have direct knowledge of the situation. At that point it’s up to a jury to decide which side tells the more persuasive story.

And, of course, there’s the wiki that one of his sources alluded to which allegedly detailed the group’s nefarious efforts.

So the problem isn’t that there was no empirical evidence to prove Arrington’s allegations—it’s that there may not be now that he’s published his allegations.