Exclusive: Techbloggers Have Sold Their Souls

On WebProNews, Robert Scoble demonstrates why the leading techblogs are becoming less critical and more susceptible to hype -- they're bargaining with PR flacks for exclusives:

I've noticed that PR types are getting very astute with dealing with bloggers lately and getting their wares discussed on TechMeme.

First they'll call Mike Arrington of TechCrunch. Make sure he's briefed first (Mike doesn't like to talk about news that someone else broke first, so they'll make sure he is always in the first group to get to share something with you all). Then they'll brief "second-tier" bloggers like me, Om, Dan Farber, Read/Write Web, and a variety of others. Embargo us all so we can't publish before Mike does.

One of the reasons mainstream tech magazines like PC Magazine are so boring is because they're completely dependent on early access to new hardware and software, so companies like Microsoft and Apple use this carrot to keep them from being too critical. They've become product catalogs, which is one reason people look to blogs for a more candid and free-wheeling assessment of new products. While magazines were running cover after cover singing the praises of Windows Vista earlier this year, bloggers were putting up danger signs about upgrading to the new OS on existing PCs.

Now, according to Scoble, A-list techbloggers have become just as desperate for inside access, even to the point of honoring an embargo intended to benefit another blog. What are the odds that TechCrunch will break the exclusive that a new product sucks rocks?


Techbloggers have souls?;-)

Pot. Kettle.

Pot kettle what? I've never been offered an exclusive under an embargo.

Why is it that some bloggers get all holier than thou when it comes to PR? What's so wrong with PR people? We all know they've got an agenda (they're paid to promote whatever), but what's so wrong with that? How many bloggers out there also have agendas? I'd stay nearly every one, including this one. There's no crime in having an agenda for anything. I'd say PR people, to their credit, are ultimately more transparent about their agendas than many bloggers, who blog to promote books, consulting businesses, and egos hungry for validation.

Re: Embargoes, if used properly (ie no exclusives or advance publication rights given to some, but not others), create a level playing field for all those bloggers who are interested in a story, and need the proper time to do their briefing, research their story, and get it queued. If a blogger wants to pass on the story, that's their right.

Why is it that some bloggers get all holier than thou when it comes to PR?

I don't have a problem with PR. One of my friends works in the biz. I just think blogs are less interesting and less reliable when they make embargoes and inside-access deals. Especially if they are, like TechCrunch, dependent on that kind of access.

"create a level playing field for all those bloggers who are interested in a story, and need the proper time to do their briefing, research their story, and get it queued"???


I don't want those writing about news to go to tea parties. I want them competing to get the story out.

SamIam misses the point of Cadenhead's post.

The embargo that Scoble describes is _exactly_ the wrong type--to which SamIAm should be opposed. It sets up a tiering system between blogs, and prevents them from pursuing their unfettered interest.

Arrington, as we all know, is by now indistinguishable from bovine excretum. To see him slaver for the recognition that 'mainstream' journos receive (in the form of PR flack largesse) only underscores how pitiful a tool he has become in the short time he has made a public name for himself.

As the media publisher on blognation, we have taken a very different approach. We have started to create an alternative to Techmeme, Techcrunch and federated media.

1. our meme tracker only tracks individual bloggers not blog networks. So only 3 of the Techmeme 100 appear on our list. In the few days since we started the most refreshing aspect has been to see that the conversation has not repeated itself among this group. Each blogger is writing new and interesting and varied posts. The blogosphere is alive and well, rich and varied.

2. Techcrunch seek embargos only to be the first to break it but there is little or no analyse often with the post. A picture a few lines and then onto the next story. To be fair that is TC's raison d'etre. Sites like Read/Write Web and others do a much better job of analysing the story. Mike Arrington is king of the Valley scoop but there is more to the world than just the Valley, however smart it is.

Blognation is working hard to find (new) voices. We realise you can be smarter than some of the people, some of the time but you cannot be smarter than all of the people all of the time.

The problem with magazines like PC Magazine is that the revenues from magazine ads are still far more lucrative than banner (or Google) ads, which means that there's some value in publishing them. Over time, as ad pages shrink, it makes more sense to discard them and move to a Web-based publishing system.

This ties in with simple staffing. Supporting a product-based print magazine means fewer resources to devote to news and blogs like Gearlog and AppScout, which are Web-based ventures.

As to the problems with embargos: it's a tradeoff. Breaking a story is always the ideal. On the other hand, betting on the competition's inability to break that story, and to comprehensively present the issue when the news goes public -- well, it's not ideal, but it serves the reader. As for the "product catalog" characterization: well, we write about tech products. That's our market.

But to counter the stereotype that tech mags are boring, here's one of my own: blogs are boring because everyone links to everyone else, becoming a human-authored version of Google News. As I said: stereotype.

Talk about stating the obvious!!!

I think most people realise that this type of behind the scenes, horse trading, which has been a trademark of old school media, is now part and parcel of A List Blogging.

And will forever be so, as long as money is being made and respectability/influence is being chased/desired!!!

It will make/take a truly remarkable human being/blogger to stand apart from the pack.

Idealists like me, hahaha...believe that Integrity withing the space is possible....and indeed could be an Awesome Selling Point!!!


Breaking a story is always the ideal

Since when did being first become more important than being right?

Sounds more like cynicism than idealism.

Be Well.

Getting "the story" first is certainly advantageous in a world where Digg.com and similar sites reward such things with traffic. However, I think that the commentary about the news, plus content (like reviews and highlights of other interesting sites) is what really sets apart certain blogs (Engadget.com is another example of a site that usually does not just regurgitate a press release, but instead, comments on it from a user's perspective).

I think people like Chris Pirillo, Robert Scoble and Todd Cochrane have large audiences because they highlight news, but also because they do reviews, audio and video interviews and podcasts, and they offer commentary (often pretty strong commentary) about what they see coming across their desktops.

Essentially what I'm saying is that getting the story first really doesn't matter when you create good content.

Add a Comment

All comments are moderated before publication. These HTML tags are permitted: <p>, <b>, <i>, <a>, and <blockquote>. This site is protected by reCAPTCHA (for which the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply).