Can We Really Blame Arrington? Sure.


So, Mike Arrington, founder of TechCrunch, has denounced embargoes. That’s silly. I’ve been blogging professionally for a long time, and admit that delving into the big league after becoming Mashable‘s first employee was a rude awakening as to the ugly politics of blogging. And from working with one of the most professional men I know of in the business (over at VentureBeat), it’s safe to say that such ugly politics aren’t unique to the new media sector. A stunt like Arrington’s however, is.

Even though TechCrunch is a blog, it’s been widely accepted as a mainstream publication. As the embargo system, flawed as it may be, has carried over from newspapers to the world of blogging, it’s understandable and democratic in that sense. But what has the majority of the blogosphere so upset about Arrington’s decision to refuse coverage of stories requiring an embargo is the “fact” that TechCrunch never really honored embargoes to begin with.

I can’t write that last sentence with a straight face, because Arrington saying that TechCrunch “never broke an embargo” is a heart-wrenching statement to read from someone as influential and confident as he is. The actual fact of the matter, in many cases, is that TechCrunch gets a different embargo time than the rest of us bloggers. Cuz they’re special over there. Which leads us to the very public relations system that Arrington feels is so flawed.

Yes, embargo times suck. But we as writers deal with them.

picture-150Personally, I don’t get what the big deal is. Where would I be without all the hard work that went into a press release and the marketing behind it? I don’t think PR folks are annoying, I don’t mind gchat pings, Twitter DMs or Facebook messages. I appreciate the effort that leads to my bread and butter. Sure, big scoops would be better, but that’s not always conducive to my quality of life. Spam or not, it’s the nature of the beast.

So who’s to blame here? The PR people that are forced into giving TechCrunch an earlier embargo time? The companies that hired the PR firms and are turning up the pressure? Arrington? Or maybe the rest of the bloggers that are clamoring for a piece of the weblebrity pie, seeking top-ranking traffic on Techmeme and Google News? Everyone in this picture is just doing their job, right? Whatever.

Leave it to a slow news day to conjure up a publicity stunt like the one Arrington just pulled. I can’t imagine that “dealing” with embargoes was soooo bad that Arrington couldn’t handle them anymore. Seriously.


10 thoughts on “Can We Really Blame Arrington? Sure.

  1. Great post. It’s interesting to see how the tech blogosphere has evolved from a medium that enjoyed being reached out to, to producing posts about being pissed off when they have too many e-mails in their box. PR folks and entrepreneurs are the lifeblood of what you do, and it seems like they are now taken for granted. We see this today when some of our most popular tech blogs have started paring down their staff, because there is less to write about and declining revenues to justify additional staff. I’m glad you continue to appreciate PR folks and entrepreneurs, because they enable you to do something you are passionate about.

    I think that high-level blogging is a privilege and hopefully a new breed of bloggers emerge that maintain a high level of integrity that enables all of us to do our job. I think that embargoes are important for all parties involved, and hopefully after the dust settles, everything returns to normal, and we have respect between PR folks, entrepreneurs, and the blogging community.

  2. Kristen, you rock! Despite getting hammered by the daily barrage of PR pitches, you always take it all in stride. Not to mention you are fun to work with (even when you can’t do a story), and even more fun to hang with.

    Embargoes do serve a purpose, but I’m actually not a big fan of them and back in the day we only used them on rare occasion. These days it seems to be standard practice on every announcement.

    I had a rough embargoed-breaking week this week and am thinking that the fallout of it all is a good reason to actually examine the abuse of embargoed releases and for all of us to realign. Because at the end of the day, we all have a job to do and we all have to still work with each other.

  3. I thought the whole point of embargoes was to give JOURNALISTS time to prepare their story.

    The alternative, releasing the same news to every journalist at the same time, with no warning, would simply leave journalists (and yes bloggers) stressing over who can type the fastest on every release that ever comes through.

    I’m happy to do that if that’s what journalists want. Embargoes are a pain for me!

  4. interesting, i am still learning so much about this social media game, so i still feel like the teenager that just got the the “adult table” so bear with me. These embargos help who? who gave the PR people so much power as to think that they can dictate the news cycle as fast as it has now become in this era of new media? i have so many more but i guess ill just talk to you more later..

    • well it’s not so much that PR people dictate the cycle–it’s more like a way to have a democratic process for releasing the news. So the fast pace of new media publishing merely adds fuel to the fire. Ping me if you have any more questions!

  5. Kristen, well said. I tried to debate both sides of the issue in my own recent post on the subject, but frankly, still feel like we could offer Arrington a little cheese with his whine. I can’t can’t believe he gave as much time as he did to complain about PR; probably as much to write that post as the time he claims PR people steal from him. In the world is no news is bad news, he’s actually done the PR industry a favor by bringing it to the forefront of discussion. Thank you for your well articulated POV and for reminding me why it is I encourage clients to think beyond TC. Hope our paths cross in the future.

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