Meredith L. Patterson (maradydd) wrote,
Meredith L. Patterson

In which Michael Arrington invites me to shoot fish in a barrel

No, really. He just did.

It's convenient timing, given the broadside I launched against pay-for-play conferences last week. But there are plenty of other things I can excoriate TechCrunch for, not the least of which is their arrogant tendency to shoot first, ask questions later, and whine like little bitches when the answers to their questions are "No". ("bramcohen's company just did a Series B round and I hear mutterings about a new CEO! He must have just gotten canned!" *ring ring* "Hi, you've reached Bram, no, I'm not fired, go away." "[pout, whine, ineffectively backpedal]")

Michael, you want some unsolicited advice on becoming a better writer? (Actually, you asked, so I guess that makes it solicited.) Take it from a former small-time journo who got while the gettin' was good: no fucking shit a conversation with somebody is going to be "tense" when you've just deposited a steaming pile of unsubstantiated crap about them into the RSS feeds of every last one of your readers. Oh, and on Technorati, too. Nothing that makes it into Technorati ever dies, but that's another story. Anyway, point being: fact-checking good, going into fact-checking interview with neutral point of view firmly fixed in place way, way better.

Got it? Good. I'm glad we had this talk. I'll see what other advicebile I can dispense before Saturday, but this weekend's pretty full, so no promises.

ETA: Lest this come off as no more than a case of pointing and laughing because I can1, I should point out that I meant it about the writing-improvement advice. The tech-startup corner of the blog world is a particularly useful resource for people in my position, because good business intelligence is a powerful Seekrit Weapon. (VC blogs helped me improve my business plan enormously, for instance.) Emphasis on good, though. It's said that no plan survives contact with the enemy, but plans based on solid fact at least have slightly more longevity. I take everything I read on our good old series of tubes with a grain of salt anyway, but TC gets a much larger grain thanks to this fuckup that could have easily been prevented with a bit less trigger-happiness. I don't even know how much misinformation I've failed to catch, and I have no way of finding out, other than through the odd personal connexion I have.

Or, in simpler terms: TechCrunch is now prima facie a less useful resource, because the up-front effort cost of verifying their reporting is known to be higher. I have enough to do with my day already.

Now imagine how much less wheat-from-chaff separating ability people who aren't already socially connected to this world have, and consider that these folks read tech-startup blogs in order to get good data filtered for them2.

sclerotic_rings' First Law of Retractions ("No blatantly wrong front-page story will ever see a retraction any more prominent than 6-point type underneath today's Sudoku puzzle") aside, it's always better to get the damn story right in the first place.

1Of course it's a case of pointing and laughing because I can, but it's more than that.
2I have Michel Foucault and Jeremy Bentham tied up in my basement, and every so often I go downstairs and kick them for fun.

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