Sunday, May 29, 2016

"Wowza" doesn't begin to cover it -- why we need Gawker -- part III

Following up on the previous post and our good friends the Lessins.

From Sam Biddle:

The San Francisco Chronicle was at the fete, and has details on its high-level guest list:

    When former Wall Street Journal reporter Jessica Lessin celebrated the launch of her journalism startup at a Pacific Heights mansion this week, the event attracted the tech A-list: Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg arrived in a gray hoodie; Brit + Co founder Brit Morin brought flowers; and Twitter CEO Dick Costolo started hugging friends as soon as he walked through the door.

    These high-powered tech celebrities are some of Lessin's close friends.

    Lessin calls herself a "reportrepreneur," someone who not only wants to cover the tech world, but to emulate it.

Emphasis added on that last part, because, just, wowza.

It's generally frowned upon to be very close friends with the people you cover professionally, because there's an appreciable chance you will be less inclined to write true things about them, when those true things are things they'd rather the rest of the world not know are true.

 That was back in 2013. Lessin had already been at this for years, crossing ethical lines and contributing to the culture of silly narratives and sycophancy that defines Silicon Valley journalism. Lots of very rich and powerful people really, really liked that culture and they were not at all happy with those who wanted to undermine it.


  1. "Why we need Gawker" ?!? Certainly we need media to evince skepticism, step on the toes of the famous and powerful, and uncover truths that some would keep hidden. But, seriously, must that entail publication of intimate details of people's lives that are of no public concern and dissemination of revenge porn?

    We don't need Gawker. We need real journalism.

    1. Lots to cover, but here are a few points

      1. While I think the post probably over the line, the subject was how the straight white male VC culture affects Silicon Valley and that is a subject of public concern.

      This is a representative quote:

      "The effects are hard to document. VCs fund so few of the companies they talk to that it's hard to prove a case of discrimination; there are a hundred reasons why they might pass on any given startup. But gay and lesbian entrepreneurs I've spoken to agree it's real. PlanetOut, the gay and lesbian portal, had to buy out Sequoia Capital, which had come to regret its investment in the company, before it found braver VCs and eventually went public. And really: How many out gay VCs do you know?"

    2. 2. And where exactly do we find this "good journalism" of which you speak? I was still living in Arkansas in the 90s and I had plenty of chances to see how the "serious" press (NYT, Washington Post, etc.) cashed in on salacious stories, while covering their asses with a vaneer of thoughtfulness and respectability.

    3. 3. When you start to go through the stories that pissed off so many billionaires, you'll find that the vast majority are entirely defensible. These were cases of repugnant behavior and blatant lies whitewashed by a corrupt and cowardly press corps.

      4. Which leads us to the main reason we need Gawker and ValleyWag. If the NYT were to disappear tomorrow it would leave a fairly small hole in terms of the stories covered and the views expressed. The Washington Post and the WSJ would leave larger holes because of their contacts in government and business respectively, but only slightly larger. Gawker not only covers important stories that others miss; their focus is on uncovering flaws in the standard narrative.