The Washington Post versus Gawker

Background story in a nutshell

  1. Washington Post writer Ian Shapira writes an article about business coach/’generational consultant’ Anne Loehr: Speaking to Generation Nexus: Guru Explains Gens X, Y, Boomer To One Another
  2. Gawker blogger Hamilton Nolan picks up the story: ‘Generational Consultant’ Holds America’s Fakest Job
  3. Shapira complains that Gawker stole his story: The Death of Journalism (Gawker Edition)

My take

Shapira’s claim that Gawker did not properly attribute him are unfounded.  The Gawker post links to the original article and to Loeher’s generational cheat sheet.  Hyperlinks are the footnotes and citations of our generation (as Loeher would probably say). I’m giving my advice for free: my generation thinks that generational business coaches are B$.  We live in a cut and paste culture; computers lower the barrier to making derivative works, as the next section of this post will demonstrate.  The subject of the original article was pretty ridiculous to begin with, as if it were tailor-made for Gawker fodder.  Gawker added value to the original with its snarky commentary. (Ms. Loeher, is snark a characteristic of my generation too?)

If Oscar Wilde were alive today, he would probably say, “the only thing worse than being blogged about is NOT being blogged about.”  While we are on aphorisms, let me give you some more free (useless) advice about my generation, courtesy of Descartes, updated for our times: Blogito ergo sum. “I blog, therefore I am.”

I don’t think Gawker is so much ruining journalism as Shapira claims as much as it is Maybe the WaPo should stick to actual news coverage and investigative reporting (after all, this is the newspaper that exposed the Watergate scandal, but “old media” can’t just rest on its past laurels).  “New media” like Gizmodo is going to give newspapers a run for their money in terms of business model.  Newspapers can either adapt their business models and learn to compete with the supposed “pirates” (“piracy is just another business model“), or they can fail.  They can revamp their content and delivery models, or they can streamline and specialize in what they do best.  But here’s a hint for being hip with the kids: complaining about the death of journalism is old news and kind of played out.

Or, in a move of desperation, they can throw down the gauntlet and start an Internet turf war like Shapira has done, which is actually a very Gawker-esque thing to do.  (What would Anne Loeher say about how that reflects on Shapira’s generational values?) It certainly has succeeded in getting people’s attention, but I hope this is not the sustainable business model the WaPo has in mind.

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