My friend and former colleague Suzanne McGee called my attention to a story, the kind of which has become sadly familiar. John Biggs wrote on TechCrunch about Churn:The Problem of the New Tech Journalism.. John writes:
We post a lot of things for two reasons. First, lots of posts is the low-hanging fruit in the orchard of traffic.. It’s that simple... If that sounds mercenary, then you, the readers, are the hiring generals... If we didn’t have to shovel this stuff into your constantly grinding maw we’d have a lot more time to write 4,000-word reviews of Atheros chipsets. The second reason we post so much and so quickly is because we’re constantly involved in a conversation. It’s a conversation with tipsters, with readers, with creators, with makers, and, sadly, PR peoplle.
Somehow, amidst the many excellent points he makes about the field of tech journalism, and the factors that explain its frenetic pace, John singles out PR for special attention (well, he also blames the hapless reader, and our "grinding maws"). John adds:
The answer, as far as I see it, is simple: avoid PR and PR newswires and keep the conversation going naturally.
There are several things to note here. First of all, it seems that PR has become an all-too-convenient target - bad behavior by some in the profession seems to give many in the media carte blanche to trash the entire field. I have written about this, here is one of my more recent stories: Absurd to Call Samsung Customer service Isssue a Tech PR Fail.
However, we are now, in growing numbers, quite vocally defending ourselves - the comments section for the Biggs article seems to be dominated by PR and many take issue with the story, kudos to John and TechCrunch for letting these stand.
The second is that the article reflects the overheated nature of tech media. I wrote about this too, see my post about sniping between the tech blogs. Also, some may have seen the Twitter trash talking between Kara Swisher of AllThingsD and Alexia Tsotsis, also of TechCrunch yesterday, it got quite heated.
Let's all take a few deep breaths, can't we all just get along? Tech coverage is important, but let's face they are not writing about cures for world hunger. Even John admits: "I can’t say we’re reporting on the cure for cancer or sending in dispatches from the Eastern Front..."
To add a little gallows humor, I include a video of recent SNL skit, which skewers tech bloggers, not to insult or trivialize tech journalism (after all my livelihood depends to a large extent on tech media, and the trust and good will that we establish with journalists) but to implore us all to keep things in proper perspective, lighten up (and, yea okay and let's face it, it is a pretty funny and on-target routine).