Being of South Asian persuasion (not to mention a big fan of The Lion King) I am a believer in the whole circle of life thing – what is new today will be old tomorrow. It is certainly true in case of the ever evolving world of media. In the mid-1990s at the cusp of the first Internet revolution, I got the religion about online news.
In the early days, as an online news reporter, I got accustomed to the hustle, the desire to outdo the mainstream print media. It was not easy, and it was virtually impossible to get PR folks to play ball. The old media bemoaned the presence of us upstarts, right until that day when Adam Penenberg unmasked Stephen Glass. It was the shining hour for online news media.
Forbes.com, and C/Net News.com were the pioneers and broke news with unrelenting tenacity. Back then, every day you could count on News.com to have atleast one scoop. I tried hard at Forbes.com for a while. But that was then. Nearly a decade later, the New Media, believe it or not, is now acting like the old media. Why?
Because I read this recent opinion piece by Molly Wood, a senior editor at News.com. She is upset about the NDA (non disclosure agreements) and bemoans the presence of enthusiast sites, fan sites and super blogs like Engadget. Wood says that tech companies are trying to control information for professional hacks, when it is all over the web, thanks to the blogs. I agree upon with Wood is that the NDAs don’t make sense in the post-blog information flow. Still, I think bloggers, are not doing anything the “new” media of the recent vintage didn’t do – hustle and be creative in finding scoops.
Jason Calacanis, the cofounder of Weblogs Inc writes, “The fact that you’re losing scoops has nothing to do with ethics, it has to do with hustle…. Blogs are out-hustling you plain and simple.” (I am not going to get in the middle of Jason versus C/Net catfight), but I do have to say that this kevetching about blogs is pointless. They are here, and they are staying. Get used to it. I mean if Engadget and Gizmodo are good enough for Bill Gates to sit down and have a heart to heart, they seem pretty legitimate to me and are bonafide part of the whole media scene. Many times Wood’s colleagues have taken a cue from blogs, and why not, since blogs are open media anyway. They have often not sourced them to the blogs, but even that’s part of the new media world order.
The point of my bloviating is that in the end, these arguments will continue forever. What is new today will be old tomorrow, and well, like the old “new” media, the game is going to continue. You know the whole Circle of life thing!
(Paul Graham’s take on PR is a succinct explanation of why the blogs have become such a huge phenomenon. Did you know that Suits have made a comeback every quarter according to The New York Times!)