Why Is Nick Denton So “Old School”?

I have a lot of respect for Nick. He’s built a great media business in Gawker Media using blogs as the platform. Valleywag is one of my "must reads" every day. My girls tell me that Jezebel, Gawker’s new women’s gossip blog, is fantastic. If you don’t read Lifehacker, you should. I could go on and on. Nick is a brilliant media mogul in the age of the Internet.

But he’s got a few blind spots. He’s stuck in the old media mindset at times. Take comments. He wouldn’t have comments on his blogs for years. Didn’t want to "sully them" with user generated comment. Now he’s got comments, but they require registration. It’s like Nick doesn’t really want to be new media. He wants to be old media on a new media platform. Forget the conversation, I just want to talk to you and you should listen.

He showed his stripes again yesterday on Valleywag when he took a swipe at his competitor Federated Media (and me by association) in his critique of the "People Ready" campaign that Microsoft is running on this blog and many other Federated blogs.

Nick says:

One would have thought that tech opinion-leaders as influential as Om Malik and Paul Kedrosky would ration their credibility more carefully, and reserve it for companies and products for which they felt real enthusiasm.

Maybe we (Om, Paul, and the rest of us) were just excited to participate in an ad campaign that wasn’t just mindless banners Nick. Maybe we wanted to try to bring "the conversation" into the banner. Maybe I really did mean this when I wrote it:

I am in the venture capital business which is all about building relationships
with people. And yet many venture firms aren’t “people ready”. That’s why
venture capitalists as a group have a reputation as being arrogant, aloof,
hard to reach, and hard to talk to. I’ve been struggling with how to build a
“people ready” venture capital firm for years. I learned the venture business
from some great people who taught me to always respond to every deal that
comes in, say no as quickly and nicely as possible, and be attentive and
gracious in every meeting. But even that is not enough. We’ve used blogging to
make ourselves and our business, Union Square Ventures, even more “people
ready”. And it’s been a success in more ways than I could have ever imagined.

Nick sent me an email yesterday asking about the campaign. I should have known something was up when I saw this subject line:

did you really write "people-ready" just to get Microsoft sponsorship?

I told him yes I did and that I didn’t really think about it. It seemed like a neat idea and still does.

Bottom line is that I am all for any form of advertising that takes some risks, makes the medium a bit more interactive, extends the conversation.

Blogging doesn’t play by traditional media rules. That’s why it’s great. Blog advertising shouldn’t play by traditional media rules either. I am proud to be a participant in this campaign and think it makes me even more credible.