I wrote a post finally commenting on the release of the hacked Twitter documents by Techcrunch over at SiliconANGLE on Friday.
John Furrier and I had a nice little back and forth in the comments over it. Part of one of his comments said:
"There is no upside to the general public for selling stolen documents only danger of hurting people and their families whose stake (and life) is based upon the success or failure of Twitter (e.g. employees, partners, ..etc)."
The response I wrote wound up being blog length… so I’m making it a post here.
I think that point is debatable, based on your level of cynicism.
For instance, if you take the Rupert Murdoch approach to journalism, as long as there’s a public interest in watching trainwrecks, then there’s a public service being performed when you report on them. As most of the execs at FNC will tell you, Fox isn’t a news network, it’s an entertainment entity that’s fueled by news and current events.
Pageview blogging, as well as most other forms of Heritage Media, the product isn’t the news or the journalistic service being performed (even though it’s been elevated in recent history to the level of "Fourth Estate" and put on a pedestal).
The product is the audience. The responsibility is to the advertisers. The way you buy that product in bulk to sell to the advertisers is by being sensational, unique, useful or interesting. The means really isn’t important so long as the goal is accomplished.
Any other bits of journalistic ethics imposed on the editorial employees are just arbitrary hoops the company sets on itself for the purposes of making the journey to profitability more challenging (and in some cases, making what they print and produce more palatable to the product / audience).
Like I said, it’s the cynical view held by most major news networks at the executive level. I don’t know Mike Arrington’s personal views on how he performs his job, and if he’s that cynical or if there’s another more altruistic agenda in place.
Whatever the case is, it’s worth re-iterating that we don’t fall into either category here at SA. We’re not journalists, per se (though some of what we do might be considered an aspect of journalism), and we’re not pageview driven and thus not beholden to treating our audience and community like a product.