Techcrunch and Twitter will this evening be un-easy bedfellows following the announcement earlier today that the hottest property on the Internet, that’s Twitter, had had documents stolen/hacked and passed on to Techcrunch.
What interests me is not the content of the documents that have fallen into Michael Arrington’s lap (a Twitter TV show? Woweee), or even financials, no. What I am observing with most keen eyed-ness is the reaction of Techcrunch readers and the online community as a whole to the way that Techcrunch are covering the articles.
It is safe to assume that Techcrunch will have seen the ‘success’ of the Telegraph’s drip feeding of news during the MP’s expenses scandal and be persuing a similar model. This will of course have a massive impact on page views, SEO and subsequently, the amount of cash that can be generated through advertising on the site.
Initial comments on the articles (I am purposely refusing to link to them as a matter of point) include:
To the initial announcement
“This is an asshole move. If these documents were obtained illegally (and it sounds like they were) by “Hacker Croll,” you have no right to publish them. One can only imagine the hissy fit you would throw if someone did this to TechCrunch.”
“That’s commendable but there’s still an appearance of a lapse in ethics here.
‘…documents showing financial projections, product plans and notes from executive strategy meeting…s’
Really? We’ll have to see what exactly gets published and if it’s worthy of all this hoopla. Nevertheless, this is just bad karma for a great blog which has become an integral part of the start-up community in the Valley and beyond.”
To Techcrunch’s reaction to the comments
“Ethically is wrong but journalism has always been a brave platform. That’s why they swaer freedom of speech and press and etc all around the world. In the spirit of reporting the truth. :|”
“just another marketing stunt from twitter and techcrunch.. we are not stupid as you think!”
“m disappointed with techcrunch.. You can not call this as the right thing to do.”
On the TV show
In other news, milk it Arrington, milk it!”
“geez you guys are a tough crowd. let’s all hope are dorky pitch decks never get leaked to TechCrunch. oh wait…i bet they’ll be flooded with leaks now after all the buzz this one’s getting.”
On the financials
“Mikey, are you having fun milking this Twitter fiasco?”
“An interested public is not the same as a public interest. Posting this stuff? What the fuck.”
“The only reality television I am watching at the moment seems to be Mike Arrington and the Twitter documents. This is classic. Keep whipping the horse!!! Harder.”
I agree that ‘in the public interest, does not mean the public are interested’.
If the documents are as interesting and confidential as being made out by the TC team, Twitter’s legal guys would have been involved a lot more than has so far been mentioned on TC to prevent anything that really shouldn’t be out there, from getting out.
It is a wonderful thought that it could be a conspiracy to get Techcrunch and Twitter a hell of a lot of publicity, but I very much doubt that this is the case, especially as Twitter has been suffering other security and spam issues recently – it would add to the embarrassment of these previous events.
I have a gut feeling that the documents are being hyped by Techcrunch – this is a traditional media trick – and in effect has the potential of turning Techcrunch into the online equivalent of a tabloid newspaper – something that I genuinely do not want to happen as Techcrunch is generally a good read and a fine source for news. In particular, the work Mike Butcher and his team do on the UK cousin is a great example of how to run a blog effectively and create compelling content.
They must play this very carefully or they risk losing readers in the long term, particularly if they become smug or start boasting about their scoop. If there was any news of real note, the whole selection of files would have been posted in one go to get them out in the open. By releasing each document in turn, there may be a traffic spurt over the next few days, but will the biggest tech blog of all fall from the mountain when the oxygen runs out?