How not to be an online journalist

Here on my pulpit, I have a simple goal. I hate the “ivory tower” concept, that the press is somehow removed from and better than its audience. At every job I’ve had, I’ve wanted my readers to know that, yeah, the people making this publication are just like you. We have cool jobs, yes. We get to do things you don’t get to do, true. But those things include everything from cool things like playing games early to horrible things like hitting deadlines late. But doing what I do doesn’t make me better than you. I hate the rock-star attitude that some people adopt in this line of work.

Meet Brian Lam of Gizmodo. Microsoft sent out these enormous duffel bags of Halo 3 swag to a select few folks in the press (OXM got one). If you work for an online site, opening such a package counts as news. Brian opened Gizmodo’s bag on camera like a greedy kid on Christmas and sort of seemed bored with it all, throwing this prized gear on the floor as he unpacked and dissed it (listen for the wireless headset comment). So it’s bad enough that bragging that you got swag (please note the article starts with “Usually, I hate the unnecessary swag”; I take the unwritten second half of that thought to be “but when it can drive traffic, I’ll make an exception”), but then to throw the stuff around in front of gamers who would really love to be in your position, well, that’s in poor taste. “Hi, you’ll never own this, and I don’t really want it, but I want your interest in it, so come drool anyway.” Tacky to cruel, depending on how you look at it.

So in response to angry feedback from readers, up comes a second video, which I will not link to, because the apology intentionally and without warning spoils the end of Halo 3, in the middle of the video.

This has nothing to do with journalism. It’s just arrogant and immature spite aimed at the people who didn’t like what he did in the first video.

It’s bad enough that the journalist has become the story. But any journalist who has contempt for their audience is a journalist the audience should reject. We don’t need any more rock stars.

I now realize that I don’t need to read Gizmodo any more. There are plenty of other news sources online. I’ll stick with Brian’s old stomping grounds, Wired. They still have class.

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