As much as we believe in the ideas, teams, executions, it's still very much an old boys network. Don't fool yourself otherwise.
The community upturns its nose constantly about gossip or fluff. But you don't get it, that's all there really is. Gossip and fluff. Tech reporting is as dry and pointless. How many times can you rehash someone releasing, fixing, investing, or selling something?
On top of all this we got exactly the tech reporting culture we deserved. People clamor for dispatches from foreign lands, substantial news, authentic stories but here's the real secret... there's no demand for those things.
There is demand to sell ads on pages. There is demand to hire expensive publicists to befriend the journalists that switch from site to site like musical chairs. There is demand for real time updates of something happening because we're digital addicts. Read Silicon Alley Insider for a day and watch how they wring blood out of stone.
The game is rigged. We know to win you adorn your hastily put together A/B-ed MVP LP with TechCrunch and Mashable logos. Or you syphon off mojo storytellers that have consistently the past 5 years been slowly making the story equal part themselves; their backs scratched by everyone eagerly waiting their turn. Be that way long enough and you get dangerously jaded not caring whether it's fingernails or a knife.
If you don't like it, too bad, millions do. And the millions more that's descending into Silicon Valley seeking their fame and fortune do too.
It is what it is.
I have watched new tech bloggers starting out in the right direction and then getting dragged in by the mob to insert themselves into the story. The entire context of tech journalism shifts from reporting the facts to reporting on them reporting and before you know it every half-wit tech blogger has their own column where they endow the world with their opinion of things. Before long they are opining as 'we' - meaning they are speaking on behalf of everybody else (which for me is a lot worse than the worse style of 'I' editorial). There are more opinion-style journalists in tech than there are straight up reporters, and that says something.
And it is the entire audience that is culpable, not just the lovers, but the haters as well. If your intention as an opinion journalist is to get a reaction from people, then the haters are participating and perpetuating just as much as the fans are. I know a lot of tech bloggers who would furiously refresh the comments after they post the piece and look forward to the hate as much as they look forward to the applause. A lot of them intentionally rile up their audience just to get that reaction - sometimes even publishing a point-of-view they don't believe in just to get that rise out of the haters.
It may be because the real heros of this industry are less accesible, so we turn those who we have ready access to into faux heroes and villains. The movie and film industry has privacy invading gossip pages for readers to get their gossip fix from, they also have regular movies and awards shows. We don't have that with Zuckerberg, so we do it to whoever is next in line.
You can't observe tech gossip or talk about it without participating in it. All you can do is completely ignore it - but ignore it without saying that you are ignoring it, because that means you really aren't ignoring it.
I don't think that will happen though, there may be less interest in some stories at times but the gossip will always be there, it is part of human nature. We just gossip about the wrong part of the industry in tech.
My perception from back when i was reading lots of tech blogs is that tech journalists are just not good journalists, almost all of them (I can't think of an exceptional case, no offense intended). They almost never do real world research, just rely on google, big newspapers, press releases, the random dude who calls to promote his new website and lately on HN / reddit (that strikes me as extremely lazy). You almost never read discussions or interviews with actual tech people in a calm, focused tone (a-la charlie Rose), their attention span is that of the average redditor and the thought process is usually shallow. Articles go out in minutes, they wait for commenters to correct them, and the opinions are tailored to the fan crowd in order to provoke the usual fan/troll replies and pageviews. You say that the "real heroes are inaccessible", but i wonder if tech bloggers try hard enough to access them.
I have found that more recently some of the most interesting writing has been done by part-timers on their personal blogs. Security and privacy investigations, analysis of markets and startups. HN is a good way of aggregating the best of those posts.
Back in the last bubble analysts like (the disgraced) Henry Blodget and Mary Meeker just to name two got plenty of celebrity.
Added: Ok they weren't journalists (Blodget is now) but it was similar in that they became part of the dot com success story by creating it.
I gradually unsubscribed feeds in Google Reader that were generating too much uninteresting stuff, I stopped visiting sites, I got busy doing things of my own.. and before I knew it, I was tech-blog-free.
It's not like I know any less about what's going on in the world of tech without them; I just get a lot less clutter in my life.
These guys stopped writing about tech a long time ago, and instead started writing about their close (relational/economic) interests.
The emperor has no clothes.
This isn't true. Mike left AOL because Arriana was getting too hands on. There were a lot of little control decisions that lead to the decision to leave.
He left and then setup Crunchfund, with an investment from AOL. He was supposed to continue as a contributor, just like many other contributors who are also investors or entrepreneurs but declined on that as well. MG remained as a contributor.
As for the circle jerk being boring, I couldn't agree more (and I know the people involved, most of them well). What you have to keep in mind is that when something is made public, there is a motive for that. There is a reason why readers are being informed, and it usually isn't a good reason (for eg. claiming 'in view of full disclosure' and then telling half the story and leaving comments closed).
But if you are going to call out the circle-jerk and how boring it is, first make your story accurate (not difficult, all the details are spread out across the various blogs) and second at least back-up the claim that people are starting to tire of it, for eg. the fact that only one other blog wrote about the latest bust-up, or that it only rated a mention on twitter amongst other bloggers who joked about it.
The 'dirty laundry' posts used to be a lot more popular than they are now, and that means they are having little effect to their purpose of riling up readers. It would have taken a single paragraph to lay that point out, this just reads like somebody who jumped right into the circle jerk and is riding coat tails. The tone is one of speaking condescendingly on behalf of the rest of the world, but in attempting to do that he has stepped a bit too close to the action and got himself messy. And as has already been mentioned, we really really really don't give a shit - and that includes you.
It's fairly clear that the information in TC and/or Pando is biased. Neither should be supported, ever. Stop the popularity contest that these people are turning our passion into!
Like many people here, I get most tech headlines via Hacker News. Sometimes I use Twitter. I used to be a big Techmeme fan, but I've noticed A) the best stories on TM tend to show up on HN first and B) most other TM content is the commodity Apple/FB/gadget news and blog theater that I am trying to get away from.
There is indeed. Western culture has undergone a value shift. Today's values are superficial in the extreme - we value money, personality, and social status. We "want respect", and don't want to be "judged".
Most of all, we crave others' approval.
The old values like integrity, honesty, empathy, conscientiouness and authenticity have been tossed aside.
It's also the reason people like Arrington will maintain that status quo. This article does nothing to change that. People KNOW what's being done here. And yet people always go back for more, because of these new, superficial values. Who we hang with is much more important than what we do.
The most amazing thing about it is that we value money over happiness. Just yesterday I read a post here that bemoaned guys with talent who don't deliver. Well, news flash. The guy with talent that doesn't turn his talent into something tangible is invariably happier than the guy who does. The number one regret of old people is having worked too much.
This value shift is a result of fear. Of a lack of confidence. If you can go through life without needing others' approval (looking at you, Mssrs Arrington, Siegler, Carr, and Lacy) you're free to be happy. And content.
Ever seen The Big Country with Gregory Peck? That guy was a role model worth modelling.
 That word is so out of place. Everybody has a personality.
 Respect is earnt, not given. If I "dis" someone it's because said someone hasn't done anything to earn my respect.
 The human brain protects itself from overload by filtering value from noise. We categorise what's left. That means judging people, every day, every time we meet someone new. It's what we do. We can't not do it.
This is not a new idea. In the year ~ 100 AD the Roman poet Juvenal wrote:
Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: bread and circuses
This attitude that "Everyone was great and hard working in the past, but now everyone's superficial" is common enough.
When claiming that this "fall of civilisation" talk is always around, I'm not sure drawing comparisons to the era leading to the fall of Rome is really bolstering your case. Quite the opposite.
Pretty good. They were the major military power for a few hundred more years, and they had a massive influence on the language, cultural and law of the area for ~2,000 years.
This is very true, a person used to be respected for these values, while there have always been crooks and creeps the majority of the populous held people with these virtues with regard. Now they are seen as antiquated, old fashion and Victorian. It now seems that they have been replaced with rude for rude's sake and controversial for controversy's sake. Further much of the information is devoid of any value, the subject of this post can be held out as an example a bunch of reporters running around writing opinionated gossip. Sadly this cultural shift seems to be going global, and I don't understand the basic human desire for it to, it is not like western culture is happier if anything we are becoming a more and more miserable lot. Why someone would want to model it without improving on it is beyond me.
Citation needed. I agree with the rest of your cultural critique, but I doubt very much that it's ever not been like that.
It often seems we humans make progress in spite of ourselves.
> Instagram being bought, despite no TOS changes?
People who can write well want to get paid for writing. Some kind of business model has to emerge that allows that to happen. Can we assume that advert driven blogging is not that model?
PS: on a netbook, the page design means that I spent some time looking for the actual content.
There's no difference between the articles they write and the thinly disguised endorsements for a particular moisturiser brand you get in women's magazines written by someone who has just come back from an all expenses paid spa day sponsored by a cosmetics manufacturer.
We should stop referring to people who write and work for these sites as journalists and start referring to them as public relations people because really that's what they are.
The new TC team has very little to do with the weird, navel-gazing BS of last year. The new editor, Eric, actually went through YC six years ago.
Our philosophy is more startups. More founders. Less crap.
"oh vicar, this is terrible. please, do go on"