At Least The New York Times Doesn’t Abuse Its Readers

It’s like stealing candy from a baby. Except, I don’t want to. I want the baby to grow up and, I don’t know, learn to eat its greens. Or something.

Anyway. Earlier today, Alexia Tsotsis wrote a post on TechCrunch, the site owned by AOL which Tsotsis is the co-editor of, about the recent deal between content aggregator Flipboard and the New York Times. It would appear that Tsotsis wrote the piece in question whilst drunk or in the throes of a really bad angel dust comedown.

In it she rants long and hard about how much she hates the New York Times & traditional media in general. She also seems to hate doing her job, seeing as I’m assuming it’s meant to involve covering stories about how traditional and digital media are converging.

A few choice picks include:

Fuckers I am so sick of reporting on incremental tech news for fucking two years now, so sick I’m pretty much considering reverting full-time to fashion coverage

And:

The New York Times took a step towards the future this blasted Sunday night and all of us tech press are expected to cover it like lemmings. Fine. Sure. It’s a big deal, in a business that is slowly dying, to show an understanding of 21st Century distribution mechanisms. Kudos NYT. You’re still worth less than Instagram. Hahahahhaha, lol (drink).

And:

But we’re still covering it because this is the first time Flipboard has offered a paywall option, and it shows a promising alternative revenue stream for both parties involved  … Welcome to the future, old media assholes.

It would be too easy to point out to Tsotsis that her employer, AOL, has hardly covered itself in glory when it comes to trying to reinvent itself and its business model (internet subscription revenues still make up around 40% of the total).

Or, indeed, that her Instagram comparison is probably a bit shaky, seeing as TechCrunch is probably a pretty good example of the fact that just because someone is willing to pay a certain amount for a business, that doesn’t mean its worth it. As one reader puts it in the comments:

You surely know that absent conference revenue, the advertisements on TechCrunch alone don’t make that business very profitable (inside of AOL, I’d rather not speculate on how they account for TC. But prior to the acquisition, I can promise you that advertising alone was only getting you so far and ads are worth even less per impression now. Hey, at least your traffic is down — although I’m still reading.

No, what really gets me is that, as well as trying, and failing, to do a ‘Paul Carr‘, by being outrageous and funny (she manages neither), she also shows a Carr-esque lack of respect for the people reading her post after one reader leaves a, pretty mild, comment:

tabloid headline, poor style, arguable points – please go back to fashion.

And is rewarded with:

Please go fuck yourself.

Alexia Tsotsis: pure class.

What’s truly depressing about this, other than the fact that someone who makes their living by being a journalist seems to have so little understanding of the business models playing out in publishing at the moment*,  is that despite all the hoo-hah of the last year or so, TechCrunch does still have the odd decent writer. But now I won’t get to see what they have to say, because if the co-editor thinks people like me should try to do the anatomically impossible, then I’d rather not waste my time on them: I’ve long thought that the web can bring out the worst in some people, and Alexia is a living case-study for this theory.

The real irony here is that writers at Techcrunch have spent so long bitching about the people leaving comments, they haven’t realised that they are now as bad as the commenters have ever been.

*including that most basic one, which is that it is the readers who ultimately pay your salary, so telling them to go fuck themselves probably isn’t such a great idea, particularly when the site you write for isn’t exactly piling on the views anyway.

UPDATE: Alexia seems to think that the reason people have taken badly to the curse is due to some sort of puritanism.

Bless.

 

Hat-tip to Gordon MacMillan

Image by Joe Shablotnik on flickr

 

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2 comments

  1. Jane

    Employees of that site seem to have become more and more self-important and wannabe-outrageous since 2007, when they all branded themselves as celebrities to begin with…

    You know what is most irritating about her tirade? She claims sexism is the reason people find it offensive. It is most definitely true that people get unduly upset when women behave badly – perhaps more upset than they do when the bad manners come from men – but that doesn’t mean we should accept women behaving horribly. It means that everyone behaving badly should be held to the same standard, and that standard includes not telling your readers to go fuck themselves. She should not pull out the sexism card to defend that sort of appalling behaviour.

    It’s funny – and feel free to edit this out if you’d rather – but I remember you writing that “It’s not big and it’s not clever post” you link to here. I remember that being partially inspired by Outspoken Media’s blog which, in 2009, was often home to outrage-and-hate-bait. It included such gems as friends of the company writing “fuck you” to other commenters who disagreed with posts, or staff asking people who disagreed if they had their “heads up their asses.”

    It was a big faux pas to criticise that company publicly back then, as the abuse would follow you to Twitter, but you were right… because that behaviour is rarely rewarded in the long run. It always plays out in the end – that isn’t a good way to do business. That company has changed a lot since, and they’ll benefit from it. I have to imagine that a lot of people and companies who did that sort of thing have changed.

    When I was 23, I took part in that sort of thing. Not to the extent of telling people to go fuck themselves, but I wasn’t as polite as I should have been. In my defence, I was 23. I’d gotten over it by 24.

    If you want someone to listen to your point, if you want to win a debate, if you want to be heard, you *up* your written game. You can win a lot of hearts and minds with good, respectful writing, even if you are up against a mountain of opposition. You don’t lower your tone to the gutter.

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