Some More Thoughts On Pro Bloggers

Chartreuse has asked me to retire the word journablogger and I agree that it’s an awful name. So I’ll just call the bloggers who are making money doing this full time ‘professionals’ and people like me ‘amateurs’. I think that’s not exactly right either but at least it puts a nail in the coffin of a bad word none of us want to see used again.

First, I am sorry for singling out Matt Marshall and Erick Schonfeld. I didn’t mean to take a shot at either of them and I realize that both of them are among the best at what they do. I was trying to highlight examples of quick posts that I felt didn’t really dig deeply into the issues. Further, Erick talked to me when he was doing his post and I felt he either didn’t get what I told him or he ignored it. Which of course is his perogative.

Mike Arrington thinks I owe them both a call before I call them out on their posts. That would have been a nice touch, but I think blogging about it is a better thing to do because it’s now started a conversation, both in the comments to my post, and on techmeme.

Now the specifics of both Matt and Erick’s posts are getting debated. And the points I made in my post are getting debated. We’ll all get a lot more out of these three stories in the end and that’s a good thing.

Blogging is a discussion and it doesn’t matter if you are a problogger or an amateur, you get to participate. That’s progress for sure.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. nickdavis

    I say if Chartreuse says it, is should be. What a communicater.It was actually interesting to read his comments outside his usual blog posting format. I heard his voice in the words, and really missed the pictures.

  2. michael arrington

    yeah, it’s great except that you were wrong, and you hurt the reputation of two fine writers with your post.

    1. Don Jones

      To challenge what a journalist writes doesn’t hurt his reputation, only the facts that create doubt about what he writes. If his reportage is well-researched and conclusions based on that accurate research are sound, then there isn’t anything that can hurt their reputation.Fred or anyone else is well within their prerogative to question what a blogger or journalist writes. You are exhibiting typical media indignation over being challenged.Just as your writers have the freedom to write what they choose, so we will have the freedom to challenge it.Where’s your response to the facts and questions raised?

      1. michael arrington

        Don, I think the comments to Fred’s original post , along with this apology, make it pretty clear that he crossed a line. Just because it’s ok to accuse someone doesn’t it’s ok even if the accusation is baseless. What angers me most about this follow up is that Fred apologies, sort of, but then goes on to say the whole exercise was a good thing, because it started a conversation. Well, Fred could have called Erick and Matt nazis, too, and that would have started a conversation as well. There’s just no logic here.Except the obvious – Fred wants to defend an investment and his friend’s company, and was willing to attack the credibility of two writers in doing so.

        1. Don Jones

          Here’s a few thoughts, in no particular order:One issue here that Fred’s post highlights is the perceived “slant” or emphasis of the two articles in question (which I read before Fred’s post) as a result of the data presented. This is a grey area, because of the sources and uses of data, and because of the perception of slant, where different persons may view it differently.That Fred is biased and defends his portfolio companies or his friend’s company is obvious to anyone who reads his blog, or at least no less obvious than on TC, with your (and your writers’) numerous non-arms-length relationships with the companies you cover or their competitors, as well as your many past statements to that effect. Writing provocative opinion posts to generate heat isn’t just limited to Fred, nor is it limited to TC…I’m not a journalist, though I am a regular blogger and it’s not the end of the world if I’m corrected on something. My favorite saying is “We’re here to learn”, and probloggers or MSM types get things wrong all the time. Writing well-researched work on an almost daily deadline must be hard work, but the slant is bound to go wrong sometimes, and it is proper for there to be pushback on a regular basis.There’s a reason for fact checkers and editorial review at MSM outlets – they want to get it right as much as possible. Are there fact checkers and editorial review before the stories get posted on TC? What is your internal quality control? Have you ever posted how your operation deals with issues of fact and slant? Or is it every writer for himself?Just saying that some of your writers come from MSM backgrounds doesn’t cut it. People get busy, deadlines beckon, the rent needs to be paid, stories need to be filed, and standards fall. TC is one of the more visible online blogs, and I for one would like to see you support a conference or whatever to shine the light on journalistic standards for the challenges of daily reporting in the business blogging world.Maybe TC has come a long way from the days when you reported things like PBWiki getting acquired by Yahoo (not!), but daily business blogging has a long way to go still…I think Fred apologized for singling out the two writers, but stood by his analysis.

          1. michael arrington

            Don – if this is really just about us writing about venturedeal, all you have to do is ask.

          2. Don Jones

            I wasn’t trying to get your attention or angle for a TC write-up…just participating in the debate at face value. With VentureDeal, I’m interested in the veracity and quality of information, disclosing sources and the reputation of those sources among other things, so Fred’s post caused me to spend more time on it.I’m watching your CrunchBase efforts with some interest. The same issues of trust, curation and sources of information apply to your efforts to create an “open” database…

        2. fredwilson

          MikeYou are wrong about my intentions.I wanted to make a point and picked two posts that got my attentionThey got my attention because I had a connection to themfred

    2. fredwilson

      Well I’ll take the blame for that. I’m sorry. But maybe they hurt thereputation of two fine companies with their posts too.We all have responsibilities don’t wefred

  3. Harold

    I don’t think you really owed anyone an apology. The problem with your post is that you’re asking for something which currently doesn’t exist– stuff written with insight, precision, and accuracy but written with immediacy and several times a day. I don’t think it possible to churn out as much content as Techcrunch does and actually “get the story” in the traditional sense– or at least do it on the budget even a big blog has to work with.I too am constantly annoyed with the lack of depth on most business blogs, and the lack of speed in traditional publications. Perhaps when the ad dollars finally move to the web in earnest, they’ll be able to put together staffs with enough knowledge to actually get to the heart of the story, and call a spade a spade.

    1. michael arrington

      did any of you who are piling on actually read the articles in question?

      1. Ian Betteridge

        Yes Mike, I did. I don’t think that Fred’s criticism was totally correct. However, the way to respond to to it isn’t for you to lash out – it’s for you (or better yet, the journalists involved) to talk about why they thought their story stands. All I’m seeing from you is claims that Fred “crossed the line” (what line?) and claims that he’s just biased.Join the conversation, Mike – stop trying to shout people down.

    2. fredwilson

      The beauty of blogging is we don’t need that. If there are enough interestedparties, and in the comments you’ll see most of the interested partiesweighing in, then you’ll get to the truth eventuallyfred

  4. steve

    Journalism is a skill. Journalism is a discipline. Journalism is hard. As we have seen time and time again, writing something for public consumption does not make one a journalist.

    1. michael arrington

      both of the writers that Wilson slams were previously long time mainstream journalists. Matt was at the Mercury News and Erick was at Fortune and Business 2.0. How does that fit into the argument?

      1. Harold

        It just shows that one of the major strengths of mainstream media is not the actual journalists, but the infrastructure around them. Without an editor or even a newsroom, you don’t have the ability to show something to someone and say “does this make sense”, or “anyone got any good info on this competitor to the firm I’m writing about”?Journalism and blogging have their strengths and weaknesses, but to pretend that just because it’s the same guy it’s the same thing is disingenuous.

  5. al

    Arrington is a hack!

    1. michael arrington

      glad to see such “good” conversation Fred.

      1. Harold

        Right, because the comments section of TechCrunch is a real bastion of intellectual discourse.

  6. John Lynn

    I agree with you that this is the power and the nature of blogging. I created a post on my blog that was publicizing a friend’s blog and making harsh suggestions on what he could do better. I did it all tongue and cheek and my main reason for doing it on my blog was to promote his site and share the internet’s currency: links with him.Turns out I caused quite the stir with my harsh commentary. I would have done it a bit different next time, but I was surprised how sensitive he was.I thought your comments were very interesting and not condescending to Erick at all. I had read Erick’s post before I read yours and appreciated a second point of view on his post. If anything I think that the bloggers you pointed out will think twice about the points you’ve made and ensure they’ve gotten as much information as possible before posting.Thanks for bringing up difficult subjects.

  7. James

    Why don’t you guys pick up the phone and work it out. Why does everything have to be on Twitter or a blog post for everyone to see. It makes you all look pretty bad IMO. I can promise you that 99% of TechCrunch readers probably could care less about what Fred Wilson wrote. It’s an opinion and nothing more, hell it could change tomorrow. Leave the sticks and stones on the playground guys, you are supposed to be adults. And no one really cares….really.

    1. michael arrington

      but if we didn’t blog it, would we even exist? 🙂

      1. James

        Good point…a whole nother world you guys are in. 😉

  8. Preston

    You can’t call yourself an amateur just because you donate your earnings. You’ve been doing this since at least September 2003.

  9. JoeDuck

    bloggers who are making money doing this full time ‘professionals’ and people like me ‘amateurs’ Fred don’t jump backwards too far here from the important point you were making about high blog expectations. A key Blogging virtue is that it tends to be somewhat agnostic with distinctions about expertise or authority as well as legacy credentials. This isn’t always a good thing, but on balance this serves the community well. Credibility is earned rather than annointed by authorities or some notion of “professional” vs amateur.

  10. Vijay Veerachandran

    Conversation is what blog alive and personal. Fred, It would have been worth wile to make a call as Eric did when you write about them. They did their research before gong public anyway.Michael, you are too aggressive, Fred is an amazing person to talk to and at least for us in NY we look up to him t learn a lot. 😉

  11. Steve Deadalus

    i don’t think you have anything to apologize for. i’ll let you speak in your own defense but i found your note to be a call to arms for everyone to raise the level of their game, so to speak. that’s why it was so regrettable – albeit predictable – to see arrington’s wild and ridiculous personal attacks against you. but don’t pay attention. he’s less & less relevant to the conversation.

  12. jnolan

    “So I’ll just call the bloggers who are making money doing this full time ‘professionals’ and people like me ‘amateurs’.”That distinction may be hard to defend considering you are running banner ads, FM and Google, in your sidebar and use your blog to promote and enhance the value of your investments, which is just another way of saying you have a degree of economic incentive not directly dependent on advertising alone.

    1. fredwilson

      Good point jeff and I agree on the latter point 100pcntI do give away all the blog revenue to charityFred

  13. Paul Higgins

    I think that these things will sort themselves out in the long run. Part o the reason that places like the NY Times and others have cache is reputation. People who write well and research well will gain a long term reputation and social networks and other systems will weed out the poor performers. An interesting conversation but ultimately nothing to be done

  14. paul

    Arrington says’s your conflicted, next Roger Clements will be calling you a lier.The best bloggers blog about what they do, journalists are full time writers.

  15. howardlindzon

    You can tell mike is a lawyer the way he defends his staff with words here. in the ned he gained more publicity than fred did. Duncan riley is the furthest thing from a journalist on the blogosphere so mixing what mike calls old media journalists with that does not help.You buy $2,000 DVD player and $4 speakers and you have a $4 stereo.TechCrunch is a gossip site with occasional news since 2007.

  16. VampireWeekendSux

    fyi, Arring handed your dick to you. which is kind of doubly lame considering how big a d-bag he is.

    1. fredwilson

      You are so right. Thanks for pointing that out to meFred