Fairness Doctrine — A Case of Bad PR
Twice in the past six months I’ve written about examples of poor technology reporting. These posts have been popular and have garnered a decent number of comments, including some who questioned calling out reporters publicly.
Well, there is plenty of bad PR out there and it’s only fair I highlight that side of the story as well. TechCrunch “outed” an example late last week. (Kudos to TC for the Captain Picard image.)
PR pro Timothy Johnson was pitching client news to TechCrunch, and got a polite “no thanks.” The reporter pitched he did respond, and asked to be informed of any product launch by the company.
At that point he criticized the reporter Leena Rao in a snarky, condescending way:
- You wrote about platforms that move maybe $40 million in 2009. Platforms. Not communities. Not much since.
- Even if mig33’s virtual goods averaged 50 cents USD – and that’s a HUGE if – that’d mean about $20 million in rev, which is over twice mig33’s recent round
- You guys devote little coverage to SE Asian/Asian sites – don’t you think it’s time, or is FB all that matters?
Really? Wait for a product announcement? Is that a joke, Leena?
So, now the email exchange is being featured with his full name in the title on a news site with 1.7 million uniques a month. You could argue the punishment didn’t fit the crime — here’s a blog post that makes just that point. And the majority of the comments to the story are more critical of TechCrunch and author Robin Wauters than they are of Johnson.
But to me, Johnson lost his perspective and his professionalism. I can certainly relate to the frustration of not getting the media reaction you’d like when you feel you have a strong story angle. And TechCrunch is a really tough target (unless Michael Arrington knows one of the VCs backing the company being pitched). But never take it personally, and never forget that every email or post is public or could be made public.
Mistakes are made by both parties of this symbiotic relationship. The challenge is to keep bringing the passion, without it warping your objectivity or morphing into frustration.