But once we zoom out and think about these issues on a macro level, it's worth asking whether Lyons might be on to something. What is up with all of those bloggers drinking lattes in Palo Alto coffee shops? Do they trod on the same sort of moral high ground as Scoble? Or are they just using their own WordPress sites to prop up and promote their investments?
Who the heck knows. Lyons draws a parallel to Michael Arrington, who was pushed out of AOL last year during a firestorm of controversy linked to his launching a new VC firm within the AOL-owned TechCrunch blog empire. Few would argue with the idea that Arrington's situation was legitimately shady, especially given his then-boss Arianna Huffington's stated goal to bring the editorial presence at AOL up to the standards of places like The New York Times. Responding to a Los Angeles Times piece claiming that "far too many tech bloggers in Silicon Valley have financial conflicts of interest," Arrington meditated on the big picture issue. "I argue that there's no such thing as objectivity, and that transparency is a much higher standard to aspire to," Arrington blogged. "In the end this debate feels like it's more about the insecurities of the old tech people than it is about 'objective journalism'."
We'd adjust that last line a bit. The debate feels like it's more about confusion of the old tech people than anything. After lots of readers sided with Scoble, Lyons wrote to Scoble on Google+ with a public defense of his thin reporting:
Is it possible that a venture capitalist was going around approaching other VC firms looking to raise money on your behalf but without your knowledge or consent?
My source is a top guy at a serious venture firm. I don't think he would make this up. But if that's the case, then this is all very strange, and I'm sorry to have played a part in it.
This is all very strange. Because, despite the medium being around for a couple of decades, the Internet, and blogging, more specifically, is still a relatively new breed of journalism. Scoble may or may not identify himself as a journalist -- he most often refers to himself simply as a "blogger" -- but as a top editor at one of the top news sites in the country, Lyons is undoubtedly a card-carrying member of the press. Indeed, there's a very fine line between covering the startup culture and being involved in the startup culture. Sloppy reporting is still sloppy reporting, however. If Lyons wants to write about an unconfirmed rumor citing an unidentified source, that hardly passes the journalism school test for a solid report—perhaps, in attempting to keep pace with the new journalism, he simply failed to uphold certain basic tenets of the old.
One thing that seems clear is that Silicon Valley is just as big a smoke-filled rumor mill as Washington DC, Wall Street, or any of those other beat capitals. Inevitably, gossip is gossip, and that's best left to the tabloids. Then again, maybe that's what NewsBeast is going for.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.