Ryan Tate has the best post intro so far this year in the latest edition of Gawker-playing-Valleywag:
Remember when blogs were going to be fiercely independent firebrands who, purified of old media insidery stench, would pull no punches against traditional power structures? So much for that. Today’s laptop media is shaping up to be nothing but lapdogs.
The post is really about TechCrunch releasing those Twitter documents, and the rings on the water. I don’t care about that, old news, and really a lot of noise for typical journalistic behavior.
Yes, that’s right. Michael Arrington did what thousands have done before him, but on a blog rather than in a newspaper. So who cares?
Lots of people, as it were, which brings us back to Tate’s intro to the Valleywag post.
Lapdogs, is that what we are? The feared blogosphere that would turn old media out of business, the hold nothing back hardcore journos 2.0, has it come to this? To fearing the giants, to playing by the rules, the same rules we spat on from the barricades, to not sticking the finger to The Man.
Of course it has.
There is no way to run a business if you keep being a nuisance to everyone. And after all, there’s no real point of making oneself more uncomfortable than necessary.
So you get some leaked documents, some background information, something unofficial. Either you publish it, and risk relationships with advertisers and PR people that you’ve gotten too close to, or you don’t and everything’s dandy.
Withholding leaked documents and doing nothing is the cowards way out. Publishing them straight out, however, isn’t necessary the solution.
The middle ground, and the journalistic take on the situation, is to get digging using the leaked information, to start asking questions and build a story around it. No one got the Pulitzer by publishing a leaked document, I’ll tell you that. Dig, then dig deeper. Companies and PR reps will refuse to comment, they will spit platitudes and quote official standpoints.
Either you stop there, or you move on. Either way, you’ll end up with a story thanks to the pressure you could apply, or with the choice of wether to release leaked information or not?
So bloggers, I urge you to move forward, to punch harder, to speak up. Got a chance on an exclusive story? Take it, run it, and don’t stop just because a potential partner is squirming. A journalist wouldn’t if he knew his business, and neither should you.
Thord Daniel Hedengren is a designer, writer, and blogger, and also the former editor of The Blog Herald. He used to be a hotshot in the gaming industry in Sweden, but sold everything and went International. Most recently he wrote a book called Smashing WordPress: Beyond the Blog, and does loads of kickass design.