The power and the freedom of the press is a flaming sword. That it may be a faithful servant to all the people, use it justly… hold it high… guard it well.” -Steve Wilson, Illustrated Press
Don’t Hate the Playah, Hate the Game.
Dozens of top tech journalists were caught in a hoax today on PRWeb announcing the acquisition of ICOA by Google for $400M.
Top news brands including:
and many others
The fact that this story broke and unbroke so fast is evidence of a new culture of Journalism that is somewhat toxic–an atmosphere of mutually assured destruction in an arms race of who can publish the news fastest and itchy trigger fingers across the journalistic profession.
Nobody in the broader readership much cares if a news story breaks in a hour, three hours or within seconds of the announcement. It’s a kind of snotty one-upmanship within the tech press community that drives press people to shoot first and ask questions later.
Some of the most experienced and savvy press folks I know were caught up in this sting and I absolutely dont blame any of these fine individual journalists. What I blame is the toxic atmosphere of one-upmanship which places more emphasis on who is king of the pecking order in journalism by breaking stories faster than others. This is masturbatory.
What the tech community needs is a brain that sits between the ear and the mouth, not some kind of trigger happy echo chamber. I’m not pointing the finger at any specific individual–even the person who perpetrated this hoax. This could not have happened if the community valued measured, thoughtful, analytical reporting.
Every journalist I have a personal relationship with that I know probably longs for the days when you could afford the luxury of fact-checking, interviewing and actually analyzing and writing intelligent news.
I don’t point any fingers in this blog post, but Kara Swisher savagely beat down TechCrunch over this in a series of blistering twitter posts referencing their role in this journalistic debacle:
To all those in the journalism industry, writers, bloggers, editors, I humbly ask you to work together to build a news culture that values disciplined, analytic, fact-based and professional journalism over what’s out there right now, a self-important, toxic, masturbatory echo chamber. Shame on you if you helped to perpetuate this sad culture of journalism.
I sincerely hope this incident results in editorial meetings and some accountability and process-improvements across the industry. I don’t think any disciplinary actions are called for, I think this is a cultural problem across the industry. Because of this, I feel the industry should take this opportunity to take a look at itself and understand better its role in serving the public.
Journalism is not a game of one-upmanship. It is a flaming sword. Hold it high, guard it well.