Cranky Geeks on tech journalism

A 30 minute show about the state of technology journalism.

I ended my recent posting on Ethernet connections in a hotel room not being secure with "You don't read PC magazine for mutual fund advice, and you shouldn't read the Wall Street Journal for computer advice." The Cranky Geeks did a show earlier this month about technology journalism that made some interesting points along the same line.

The show is hosted by John C. Dvorak, the guests were John Markoff, Gregg Zachary and Sebastian Rupley. The show ran 30 minutes, I found the first half more interesting than the second, your mileage may vary.

Some tidbits from the show:

  • Most tech journalists are PR people, rather than journalists.
  • Tech journalists have very little independence.
  • There is a big lack of historical awareness by tech journalists (CNET took a hit here).
  • Intel created the technology coverage at the Wall Street Journal.
  • Industry sets the news agenda in technology.
  • Technology is in the Business rather than Science section of newspapers because that's where the ads are. As a result, tech coverage tends to follow the money rather than the technology.
  • Markoff noted that his feature stories are now 800 words whereas they used to be 1,000 to 1,200 words. This creates a dis-incentive to reporting.

Going from the general to the specific:

No one from CNET has ever indicated to me, in any way, that they care about the number of words in a posting. In that respect, us CNET bloggers (and most bloggers I suspect) are lucky, we can use as many or as few words as it takes to make our points, without concern for things like square inches in a dead tree.

This blog is not influenced by PR people. Perhaps there is something to be said for flying under the radar.

CNET offers their bloggers total independence, members of the CNET blog network are not even CNET employees.

Finally, I cover the technology, not the business side of things and have more historical awareness than I care to admit to. :-)

This Defensive Computing blog isn't perfect, heck it's a part-time gig, but at least it doesn't suffer from the above problems.

See a summary of all my Defensive Computing postings.

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About the author

    Michael Horowitz wrote his first computer program in 1973 and has been a computer nerd ever since. He spent more than 20 years working in an IBM mainframe (MVS) environment. He has worked in the research and development group of a large Wall Street financial company, and has been a technical writer for a mainframe software company.

    He teaches a large range of self-developed classes, the underlying theme being Defensive Computing. Michael is an independent computer consultant, working with small businesses and the self-employed. He can be heard weekly on The Personal Computer Show on WBAI.

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