Media X: Rag Traders
Brothers and sisters, consider yourselves warned.
We yammer a lot about how technology is changing agencies, sellers, clients and consumers. We don't talk nearly enough about how it is changing reporters--the people who will shape the public narrative of your careers, your reputations and your brands.
Friends and neighbors, consider Sarah Lacy your cautionary tale.
Lacy writes about technology for BusinessWeek, which says on its Web site that she's been a business journalist for 10 years. She didn't break into the craft by writing a user-generated news story in a Dove contest. No, she earned her stripes writing about substantive stuff like online dating.
She also blogs, writes books, comments online--and engineers journalistic fuckups like the one in Austin last week.
Our gal reporter conducted what was billed as a Q&A with Facebook man-child Mark Zuckerberg at this month's SXSW Interactive funfest that-- am not making this up--I thought was a "Saturday Night Live" sketch when I first saw it on YouTube. For 45 minutes or so, this unbelievably self-impressed tech chick hyped her book, batted her eyes at Zuck, and conducted an interview so unprofessional, uninformative, unimaginative, unstructured and unpleasant that by the end, the crowd was braying for her blood. (Want a taste? YouTube her name. You'll gag.)
An airily unrepentant Lacy later told another video blogger that the opprobrium the fiasco engendered is the price one pays for being well-known--she meant herself, not the Zuckmeister. And anyway, her new book is shooting up the Amazon charts.
So it was all good, see? Christ on a crutch.
Sure, Sarah Lacy covers a beat so narcissistic it refers to those in other industries as "civilians." (Valley Wag said that. In a blog about how Sarah Lacy was hot.) But her beat increasingly intersects with your beat. In fact, it's already eaten your beat.
BusinessWeek, as I mentioned last week, recently ran a hatchet job on Irwin Gotlieb that I have since learned was written by another self-loving young thing named Burt Helm. Two issues later, the magazine ran a correction: a 138-word correction. Boys and girls, consider that the Iliad of corrections.
Clearly, BusinessWeek is no longer a purveyor of fine journalism but an incubator for infant idiots with laptops and no need for Old World ideas, like professionalism, accuracy or pride of authorship. And it's far from the only miscreant.
Look, analog-era journalists were no saints. And the freak journalists (including me) who worshiped at the feet of anarchists like Hunter S. Thompson were a bit too--shall we say--undisciplined in our personal and professional habits. But these arrogant young skanks and smug schmucks who are taking over the media/marketing/technology beat are just flat-out dangerous.
It's Perez Hilton journalism, come to cover business.
Gentlemen and ladies, consider yourselves screwed.
And FYI: Sarah Lacy is so not hot.