Scripting News for 4/27/2007

Chickenshit? 

I got a call from Mary Trigiani on Wednesday night. A regular reader of this blog, Silicon Valley communication consultant, cookbook author, sister of a famous author, and friend.

She had been at a conference on advertising in the new era, a panel discussion that included AlwaysOn publisher Tony Perkins and Kourosh Karimkhany from Wired Digital. The panel turned to the discussion that was brewing in our corner of the blogosphere about the role of sources and our relationship to reporters.

Based on Mary’s account I expressed optimism for how Wired was rising to the occasion. And it totally didn’t surprise me that Perkins took a couple of personal and cheap shots at Calacanis and myself.

One more loose-end to take care of…

Last night, I said I might offer the email I sent to the Wired reporter, Fred Vogelstein, on April 24. The text follows.

“I don’t think you would have gotten anytihng from a phone talk with me or Calacanis. We do all our business via email, and in blog posts, and in comments.

“Go read Mike’s Crunchnotes post. You’ll see his view of the world. See my response, and that’s how I push back against his view.

“The fact that all this exploded into Techmeme today made your story. Start reading, and post questions in the comments on all the blog posts that puzzle you. Make sure they know you’re from Wired.

“If you’re creative you’ll get a wonderful story.

“Think of yourself as an American in Iraq.”

In other words, do research, the story is on the web, not the telephone.

Phone intervews 

Now, after all the michegas about how I like to do interviews in blog posts, largely because they create a record that can be easily verified after a story runs, let me say that I often consider doing phone and face to face interviews, and sometimes I do them.

A couple of examples.

1. Recently we celebrated the 10th anniversary of Scripting News. There wasn’t a lot of press in the U.S., or in the blogosphere, but interestingly, the story got a fair amount of play in newspapers in Europe, Asia and Latin America.

The Guardian (U.K.) wanted to do a piece about it, on a very short deadline, and wanted a phone interview.

Now, I have a long-standing gripe with the Guardian, in 2004 they ran a highly conflicted, perfectly awful article about RSS, as the “wars” were settling down, a piece written by one of the partisans, that reflected his point of view, and was presented as news, not comment. Others were not given an opportunity to respond. This is the kind of conflicted reporting that I just can’t support, and won’t. When I asked the Guardian to look into it, politely but openly, they attacked my qualifications and character, and that was it.

So when the reporter asked for the interview, in 2007, we had a long email exchange about the basis for trust — why should I work with the Guardian when they hadn’t responded adequately to a legitimate inquiry. After much consideration, I didn’t do the interview, and didn’t link to the piece because like many press reports, they called me a nasty personal name. I hate that part of what they do. They have no insight into who I am personally, and I felt given the dispute that this was their way of getting even. It looks bad, and in reporting, how it looks matters.

Net-net, what might have been fun, even interesting, was miserable. That’s the Guardian.

2. On the other side, I did a classic phone interview with a SF Chronicle reporter a week or so ago, shortly after the Virginia Tech massacre, to talk about the releasing of the videos from NBC. I wanted to discuss this with a news reporter, who I felt might have an opinion about it, who would likely want to view the videos himself, rather than have them filtered for him by a competitor. I wasn’t disappointed.

I chose to do that interview because there was something in it for me. And while I was extensively quoted in his article, all the quotes came from my blog, because (I hope) they most clearly represented my point of view, much better than my conversational quotes would have.

How to linkbait me 

Today’s meme, thanks to Jason Calacanis, is linkbaiting. Not why it’s bad, or why he won’t do it, or respond to it; rather what you should say if you want him to link to you, and what you shouldn’t say.

Okay I’m game, even though this is likely to spawn backlash from the people who say the A-list sucks or it’s a boys club, or whatever.

First, in the positive — here are things that get my attention and make it more likely I will link.

1. Your name is Scott Rosenberg. He’s a Berkeley neighbor, founding editor of Salon, a very nice person, but none of that is why I will link to his pieces more often than not. The basic reason is he generally says things I find interesting, even essential. Very rarely do his posts mention me or my work, so clearly I’m not being linkbaited. He’s a good journalist, and imho a great thinker, and a very lucid writer.

2. It says it on the What is Scripting News page: “A link on Scripting News means that I thought that the story was interesting, and felt that an informed person would want to consider the point of view expressed in the piece.” I know it’s corny, but that’s more often than not the reason I link.

3. If you link to something I wrote recently and add something to the discussion, esp an experience or point of view that hasn’t come up before. I often start threads here, or pick up threads from other sites. If you’re continuing a discussion that’s hot right now, I’m likely to link.

4. If you say I deserve a MacArthur or Pulitzer, I’ll probably link to that.🙂

Now reasons I might not link.

1. If you call someone, esp me, a bad name.

2. In an email or other kind of direct communication you say or imply that I have an obligation to link. Anything other than “FYI” or “I thought you might find this interesting” is pretty much guaranteed not to get a link from me.

3. Lack of reciprocity. If I observe over time that the linking is one-way, i.e. I link to you but even when I’m on-topic for you, I don’t get a link from you, that will dampen my enthusiasm.

PS: Obviously this is one of those times Jason wants some link-love. Jason, if you’re reading this, see item #3 above.🙂

8 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Klark on April 27, 2007 at 9:09 am

    Dave, why don;t you code your blog with standard html syntax? For example, your ordered lists in this post. They’re not standard html.

    Reply

  2. Posted by Jake on April 27, 2007 at 10:05 am

    And the blogosphere A-list boys club linksturbation continues…

    Reply

  3. Posted by Anton2000 on April 27, 2007 at 12:16 pm

    He is said by those who know him to be calm, articulate and suave.

    Reply

  4. Posted by William Arnold on April 27, 2007 at 3:35 pm

    Ugh, what a post. Sure, that’s what we in the public REALLY need: stilted emailed interviews where you can control the message. Sorry but you ain’t going to break many Watergate stories that way. I hope the media ignores this batty proposal. We need and want an aggressive, probing press where the reporter can look some fat liar in the eye and tell us if they’re sweating.

    Reply

  5. Posted by Stephen Bove on April 27, 2007 at 3:54 pm

    RE: Uninstalling IE7 renders machine useless.

    This may be a random unrelated incident, but a week or so ago I tried to download Service Pack 2 for the latest version of Windows Somethingorother (I can’t remember any of their ridiculous names – nor Mac OS names either for that matter, OSX PussyCat? Ocelot? Rhino? WTF!?) and the MSFT site said: “You can’t do this with Firefox, you must use IE. So I groaned and closed Firefox, opened up the last version of IE that I allowed onto my machine (which hadn’t been touched for about 2 years) and tried again. This time, the site said, “You must use a NEWER version of IE and recommended IE 7. Now at this point I was pissed. And I was imagining the COMPLETELY SCARY video I saw on YouTube of Steve Balmer doing a thoroughly deranged and hypocritical “Howard Dean Scream” so embarrassing to watch that I couldn’t have imagined it (see here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvsboPUjrGc ) and wondering what kind of clueless-twits were in charge at MSFT these days. Then I decided I needed to Service Pack 2 so badly (to log onto a VPN at a company I work for which takes software that won’t run w/o Service Pack 2), that I would put up with the BS and download IE7. This took quite a while as IE7 is a super pointlessly bloated humongo app that could be 10x smaller. Then the installer kicked off and locked up my computer. I rebooted and ever since, I can’t even get onto a network with that machine. I still don’t have dis-ServicePack 2 downloaded or installed. The latest suggestion from a talented sysadmin I know is, “Go buy an upgrade to your old Windows Versionwhatever for $99 that includes service pack 2 and install it from the CD.” Super-infuriating. Well, here’s what I’m doing. I am stripping Windows off that machine and installing Linux and I am never personally visiting a MSFT site or buying one of their products directly with my own money again. If they can make me reverse that statement, they must be a monopoly or something😉

    Reply

  6. Posted by Diego on April 27, 2007 at 4:28 pm

    Jason’s link-baiting rules are pretty straight forward.

    Link Baiting Rules Summarized:
    a) stroke my ego
    b) stroke my ego
    c) stroke my ego
    d) repeat infinitum

    Reply

  7. “In other words, do research, the story is on the web, not the telephone.”

    I’m reminded of Hunter Thompson’s and Tom Wolfe’s new journalism. Become part of the story. Get involved. Stop trying to be detached. Stop trying to be fair and balanced. Offer *your* opinion. And above all, let the audience talk back.

    Reply

  8. Dave,

    Maybe there’s another reason to have an open source Twitter. Even if (for example) Microsoft were to take over Twitter, there’d be an open community version.

    Reply

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