Tuesday, March 06, 2012


Today's award for most honest but also most deeply cynical piece of writing goes to
this Gizmodo post by Mat Honan. He manages to cop to the state of tech journalism as an endless parade of empty hackery, but doesn't show any insight into what it means, or even concern.

He writes:

Here is an anecdote: A major player in the consumer electronics industry had an event planned on Wednesday morning at the same time as Apple's announcement. It was a chance for an intimate group of technology journalists to meet with a C-level executive, and to walk away at the end of the meeting with unreleased products to review.

Journalists love this kind of gathering because, above all else, we are dicks; the chance to hector a top executive at one of the world's largest companies for not being Apple, in an intimate setting, surrounded by your equally unimpressed peers, and then walk out the door with unreleased products to review is what we love to do.

Nonetheless, [Redacted] had to reschedule its event due to lack of interest. Too many inky hacks pulled out to cover Apple instead. We, the Press would rather sit in a dark room, unable to ask tough questions or actually touch and test an Apple product, than do our job. We would rather serve as a gateway for Apple's live action press releases.

Refreshingly honest! But then, he turns it narcissistic:

And unless you accuse the media of being biased towards Apple products, you should have figured out by now that none of us even care. Who cares. Nobody cares. We are all so jaded and cynical that if cow shit brought in an audience, we would all be sitting in a pasture, DSLRs in hand, waiting breathlessly for the next patty to fall. Or at least, many of us would.

We cover what we cover because it's what you want us to cover. And as long as the audience comes in, we'll be there to receive you.

What a tired and pathetic excuse.

"We can't do anything else! You *make* us this way, you public! We're absolutely helpless to your insane whims! I would write real stories, I would, I promise...it's...it's just that the public demands so much garbage! I have to give them what they want!"

God, how technology could use some writers with some fucking guts.

It doesn't take guts to sit around puling and crying because the way you are spoon fed your stories doesn't always agree with your achey tummy. It takes guts to stand up and dig in and find the stories that need to be dragged out into the light, and the skill and savvy to do that with a smile and a wink, so you can keep getting the interviews you need to do your job.

So tomorrow, Apple will be heaving a dead goat off a truck for the vultures of the technology press to swoop in and feast on. And oh, how we will feast: ripping the meat from the bones with our sharp-witted beaks. Page views—and more importantly, unique visitors—will come rolling in, enough to fill our bellies and sate our appetites for the month. (I shall be guilty of this, just you wait.)

Oh, right. You could do something else—like, say, journalism—but that might require work, involve a degree of professional exposure to career risk, and isn't as easy as the cycle you're decrying in this article.

But. You. Could.

You just choose not to.

But Mr. Honan does have some words for me:

Insufferable gits will note that this thing has the sweat and blood of poorly paid workers smeared across its highly toxic components.

First: the devices aren't toxic. Apple goes to a lot of pains to leave the toxins in China. But hey, it's not like Mr. Honan is a technology journalist or anything—why sweat the details?

Second: thanks. If the choice is being on the side of those you find insufferable, versus the kind of burned-out, faux-deep "insightfulness" that comes from this kind of tin-plated world-weariness, I know what side I want to be on.

Just because you recognize that you're part of the problem doesn't buy anybody a pass.