Blog the Public
The blogosphere is a brave new news world, but it’s generally assumed that blogs that report the news adhere to basic journalistic standards—like not deliberately inserting bits of misinformation into their virtual pages. Right?
Former TechCrunch blogger MG Siegler took a dig at bloggers who rewrite others’ reporting. “I used to love to plant one really weird bit of random information (sometimes even false) into stories to catch the rewrites,” he tweeted earlier today. There’s that TechCrunch swagger.
When it comes to tech blogs, your granny’s favorite dial-up provider, AOL, is always good for some surprising news. Tonight Sarah Lacy’s PandoDaily is reporting possible new drama in the offing. According to Ms. Lacy, “two independent sources” have confirmed that AOL is considering selling off both Engadget and TechCrunch. “The two would likely be sold together as AOL Tech,” writes Ms. Lacy, “possibly including smaller assets like TUAW and Joystiq.”
The post-lunch session of the Guardian Activate Summit kicked off with an interview between Guardian U.S. editor in chief Janine Gibson and a woman whom Ms. Gibson called “the Madonna of our industry:” why Arianna Huffington, of course. Ms. Huffington, who donned a smart navy blue blazer and a perfectly coifed blond bob, introduced herself with some opening remarks about what she called the “fetishization of social.”
“The fetishization of social is celebrating something going ‘trending’ or going ‘viral’ without asking what it is that’s going trending or viral,” said Ms. Huffington. “We all need to do a better job of asking those questions, otherwise we’re going to find ourselves in the same dangerous area that mainstream media have found themselves in, where everything is breaking news. Donald Trump endorsing Mitt Romney, Balloon Boy, all these things.”
We found this comment especially pointed coming from Ms. Huffington, as The Huffington Post just tweeted, “Miley Cyrus saves a dog left outside of Walmart,” a piece that has all the classic elements of a viral story (major celebrity + cute animal + feel-good component) without any of the explanation. We really do need to be asking why Miley Cyrus’ dog saving abilities are going viral, wouldn’t you agree?
On Wednesday afternoon, Betabeat arrived at the arty brick headquarters where AOL’s startup alter egos, QLabs and AOL Ventures, take up an entire floor at Broadway and Great Jones in Soho. We were greeted by QLabs founder and hacker Chris Danzig, QLabs hacker Eric Skiff, and hacker-biz developer Michael E. Gruen. Everyone’s title is “hacker,” we were told. “We’re extremely flat,” Mr. Danzig said.
The hackers were having trouble controlling the temperature on what was a very humid day. The QLabs space is like the underbelly of the Titanic, with myriad chambers divided by arches and doors. “We have the AC, the heat on, and the windows open,” Mr. Danzig apologized, as we settled into a small conference room around a table made of reclaimed wood.
QLabs is an experimental think tank for the rapid prototyping of ideas on the web, one or more of which will hopefully become the next big AOL property. There are only seven hackers on the QLabs team, with about three more in support staff—but the corporation rented the entire floor with the foresight that it may one day be filled with thriving companies spun out of QLabs projects.
Another day, another shakeup within AOL’s content empire. Patch editor-in-chief Brian Farnham is off to pursue other projects. But before he goes, he wants to thank several people–so many people that it requires a 1,400-word missive on the Patch blog. In a sharp break with the current fashion, it is not devoted to the organization’s numerous failings and/or Read More
tech media company known on GlassDoor.com for being a “great jumping-off point for other things,” is making a habit of creating new blogs due to the sheer bungling of perfectly good blogs. TechCrunch is like some kind of organ transplant being rejected by AOL’s immune system. It’s the end of the Erick era and the start of the Eric era, and time to say goodbye to New York-based writer Jason Kincaid in the freshest round of shakeups at the post-Arrington blog. TechCrunch—how the mighty have fallen—is rapidly losing ground to competitors. PandoDaily and Uncrunched, run by TechCrunch vets, seem to announce an exciting new thing every day.
Blogger Jason Kincaid (Observer Media Power Bachelor #18 in the class of 2011 for those keeping track), is leaving TechCrunch. Mr. Kincaid wrote about the move in an entry in his personal blog, posted today:
Gianna Palmer is a guest blogger for Betabeat.
AOL released its fourth quarter earnings report today and not shockingly, profits are still falling. Q4 net income fell 66 percent to $22 million (23 cents a share) and revenue slipped 3 percent to $576.8 million. CEO Tim Armstrong seemed pretty happy, though.
“AOL took a large step forward in Q4 and I am very pleased with the way we ended the year,” Armstrong said.
At least one reason for Armstrong’s cheery outlook: AOL saw its ad revenue increase 10 percent to $363.8 million. To what does it attribute this growth? In part: its hyperlocal news effort Patch.
Starboard Value LP, who’s 4.5 percent stake in AOL makes it one of the company’s largest shareholders, is taking aim at Tim Armstrong and his attempt to reinvent AOL as a media powerhouse.
In a nine page letter reviewed by the Wall Street Journal, Starboard points out that AOL has seen its stock slide 70% over the past year. The company may be positioning itself to get spots on AOL’s board of directors, with all eight seats up for re-election in February.
The Verge launched yesterday in the early a.m. without a hitch: a sleek tech news site complete with longer analysis, forums, a product database and a Q&A with insanely-popular Apple blogger John Gruber to ensure a nice inaugural traffic boost.
“For me, this was an idea that was forming for a long time,” said Josh Topolsky, former Engadget editor and current editor and co-founder of the new site. The editor—Jimmy Fallon’s gadget consultant and electronic musician—was getting notes from co-workers as he spoke to Betabeat this morning by phone (“26, 27 editorially-focused employees? Okay, I’m being told it’s 29″).