Sunday, May 01, 2005

Welcome to our blog! F**k you!

God, has BusinessWeek been pissing me off recently. First they run a cover story about blogs in their paper magazine, which was exactly as insulting and misinformed as you would expect from a paper-based mainstream publication. Then they decide to start up a blog themselves, which they claim on the page is "where the worlds of business, media and blogs combine," but should instead be labeled "The Place Where You Can See Stupid Pointless Shit From Mainstream Journalists Who Profoundly Don't Understand the Concept." (I mean, seriously, one of their first posts was on how to properly write in a "blog style" - as if ten million blogs all have one particular style of writing that can be emulated. Gah!) And now, the capper - not only are they pre-reviewing comments readers send to the entries and only posting select ones, but they've actually put up an entry trying to rationalize the decision. (Their argument - "Our bosses make us do it!" Yeah, nice way to shift the blame to a group of anonymous corporate "higher-ups," guys.) For what it's worth, the authors claim that they've only disallowed one comment so far, for excessive profanity, and that they're not in the business of censorship; my point, though, is how do we know this for certain? Because you're telling us? Because we should just take your word for it?

Blogs from mainstream paper-based publications don't have to be this stupid; take Inc. magazine for an excellent counter-example. Their blog, among lots of other interesting things, sponsors a weekly diary from Pete Kadens, some random guy trying to start up a new small business right now (here in Chicago, no less), and who is writing a journal about all the joys and frustrations that come with it. (Here's his latest, for example, concerning the headaches that come with finicky investors.) Now, see, this is a perfect thing for a mainstream publication like Inc. to be sponsoring; it's intriguing, entertaining, informative in a way that you wouldn't get from traditional journalism, taps directly into their key readership demographics, and perhaps most important to the idea of a blog, inspires readers with more business experience to leave their own comments, offering suggestions or relating their own start-up horror stories. Frankly, such a journal wouldn't be interesting to nearly enough people to justify running it in their paper magazine; and that's the beauty of blogs, because you can just throw it up for free there and make evangelizers out of the couple thousand of us in the US who are interested in reading such a thing.

Despite how this blog may sometimes sound, I am not arbitrarily against everyone in the mainstream media; I'm simply against people in the mainstream media who are morons, just like I'm against people in the underground arts who are morons as well. BusinessWeek, you've got a long way to go before anyone on the web is going to take you seriously; I highly suggest starting by taking a look at your competitors, and seeing where they're getting it right and you're getting it wrong.