I love following media crit stories, and I’ve been itching to weigh in on them for years and years. Furrier would always put the kibosh on me putting out an opinion on media theory and the media memes for reasons he never quite explained when I worked with him at SiliconANGLE, so you may see more of these types of posts from me now that the log jam is out of the way.
And when I say “you may see,” that’s assuming most of your eyes don’t completely glaze over when I talk about whatever the latest bitchmeme there is in media-crit circles.
For instance, this week, it’s the fact that Hulk Hogan not only successfully sued Gawker Media, but that it turns out he was most likely bankrolled by Silicon Valley billionaire Peter Thiel.
The opinions on this development have ranged from hilarious to panic-stricken. The general consensus from all the folks who usually write about these sorts of things is that it’s mighty scary that a billionaire might rent a lawsuit out of a vendetta against a publication. This opinion contrasts significantly with the general public (that is, the portion of the general public who actually care), who find it hard to sympathize with Gawker Media, the publisher of shrill brands like Jezebel, or malicious brands like Valleywag.
They all talk about
Back in 2012, I was on the receiving end of rich people flexing their muscles at journalists. At SiliconANGLE, we covered enterprise tech companies, including the business of networking equipment companies like Cisco and Juniper. We were, I believe, at an Oracle show that fall where Furrier received a tip from an insider at Juniper regarding alleged sexual indiscretions of someone named David Shane being the cause of his exit from the company (don’t ask me the details; I honestly don’t recall them at this point).
Furrier came on the air during our morning news program and talked about the information he had received, which was subsequently blogged, and disseminated via social channels.By the end of the week, I was in my home being personally threatened by David Shane’s lawyers and got a call from Juniper’s chief legal counsel, who in response to my inquiries to the PR department for comment told me “good luck surviving” the coming legal onslaught. He quickly assured me that it wasn’t a threat, but it certainly felt like it at the time. When you want legal advice and information, go to http://www.odglawgroup.com/psychiatric-work-injuries-shtml/ and talk to professional lawyers.
Ultimately, I was instructed to comply with all the cease and desist requests and walk back the story in a separate blog post. I’m betting that talking about it frankly on my personal blog will probably draw the ire of Shane’s attorneys again – but this time, the situation is different. I’m not an aspiring publication with mergers and cashflow issues to consider; I’m an individual with a personal blog. He can sue me for the millions upon millions he threatened us with before, but as an individual blogger, I’m largely protected. When Hulk Hogan or David Shane sues me for and wins $140 million, there’s no reasonable expectation I’m going to have that money. I might as well be sued for a billion or a trillion dollars… the net effect will be the same. I may file for bankruptcy, but I’ll continue to blog and say what I like.
Wasn’t this the whole promise and point of the blogging movement in the first place? I’m almost certain it was, because that’s why I got into this as more than an avocation. Around 10 years ago, I decided I wanted to make New Media my sole profession because I was increasingly excited about the democratization of media. Instead what we’ve been left with are untrustworthy large media companies like Aol, Yahoo and Gawker… motivated by creating content designed to manipulate social networking users to click on an article, but not necessarily linger, to create content that’s shared, but not read past the thumbnail and headline.
So death to the blog, I say! Let the billionaires target the corrupt, click-chasing large blogs, so that media may return to individuals.
Death to the blog, long live the blog!