It got a lot of attention.
Not because it was a scoop or juicy nugget of information about a red-hot startup that’s now worth ~$3.5 billion, but because the entire thing was made up. A satire. Except some people didn’t realize it was satire. Some people thought it was real.
That’s because TechCrunch is a news site. And it’s very reasonable for its readers to assume that they’re reading facts on their screens, or at least some well-informed analysis based on facts.
Lawler’s post claimed that Uber bought a bunch of self-driving cars from Google. It had a fake publish date — 10 years in the future — but read like a regular news story on TechCrunch. Following the news that Google Ventures just made a $258 million investment in Uber, it didn’t seem entirely unreasonable that Uber would buy some cars equipped with Google’s driverless tech.
In a tweet, Lawler later defended his story by calling it “a fun, fictional post.”
A fun, fictional post. On a respected tech news site.
So it’s not very shocking that other news outlets like The Daily Mail picked up on the “news.” (We can save the “is aggregation evil?” discussion for later. We can also table the “people don’t read past the headline” discussion.)
Here’s what we do know.
TechCrunch is not parody news site a la The Onion. It’s a well-respected industry blog. Unless it misses the mark on a scoop (which happens to every publication from time to time), most of TechCrunch’s content is fair and — most importantly — true. This time, it wasn’t. It was a failed attempt at satire that detracted from a very important story in the tech world: over the last few years, Uber has exploded and is one of the few startups right now that is truly disrupting an industry. Instead, the narrative shifted to whether or not it was a good idea for Lawler to write the satire in the first place.
But tech blogging has become a crowded space. There are only so many ways tech writers can re-write the same press release or product announcement. To stand out, you need to have a unique take on the news. A personality. A smart take. You have to be funny or condescending or snarky or provide an exclusive bit of news your competitors don’t have.
In short, there are so many people writing about the same stuff that attempts at differentiation like Lawler’s have become more and more common.
A few examples.
Gizmodo, one of the oldest tech blogs, is in transition. Instead of covering gadgets and gizmos and apps, it’s shifting its focus to architecture and design. Yes, there will still be some tech news and smartphone reviews, but the editors at Gizmodo have realized the tech blogging space has become far too crowded to just write the same stuff that everyone else is. It’s a smart move.
read more -> https://medium.com/writers-on-writing/8ac82414631f
- Ryan Lawler: Let’s not get too excited about Google Fiber… yet (nextlevelofnews.com)
- How to Pitch Respectfully (Put Down the Phone) (inc.com)
- Travel Startup Triptrotting Relaunches As Wist, A Local Recommendations App … – TechCrunch (newestgadgetsinfo.com)
- This Week On The TechCrunch Droidcast: We’re All Getting The Nexus 5, So Break Me Off A Piece Of That KitKat (curiosidadesnainternet.com)
- TechCrunch Upskirt: Why Michael Arrington Blogs about Porn (moz.com)
- Hands On With The Nexus 5 And Android 4.4 KitKat – TechCrunch (newestgadgetsinfo.com)
- TechCrunch Disrupt SF Coming Soon (getresponse.com)
- MapQuest Updates Its iPhone App With Improved Cartography And Routing To … – TechCrunch (newestgadgetsinfo.com)
- Local Delivery Startup Postmates Introduces Uber-Like Blitz Pricing During High Demand (curiosidadesnainternet.com)
- Watch The Live Stream for TechCrunch Shanghai Here! (technode.com)