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Ryan Lawler is a terrible human being.

[ 63 ] August 24, 2012 |

I gather you know how I feel about the quality of American political journalism. But American technology journalism is even worse. Consider the case of Ryan Lawler, which is currently being secretly prosecuted by Ryan Lawler in the form of a post he better hope he never finds out he’s written. It concerns a party held last night in honor of what seems to be as laudable as something called “an app” can possibly be: a ride-sharing app called Lyft. What horror befell Lawler at this party?

There was beer and wine and a little bit of food. There was cake. Somebody drove a car with a pink moustache on the front into the middle of the office and some people hopped out and talked about their experiences with users. It was a joyous occasion, a time for everyone to relax and celebrate all the hard work they had been putting into it, to breathe a little, let loose … After the launch party concluded, I went to another event, and blissfully ignored all RSS feeds and emails. It was a good night. I got drunk. I danced a little. I went home and passed out.

The horror! Wait—the title of Lawler’s post is “Exclusive: Startup Launch Ruined By Careless Blogger.” Where’s the ruin?

Then, an hour later, someone posted about the event and the upcoming launch, and shit went sideways.

That person must’ve written something really horrible, right, if the “shit went sideways.” What did they write?

I didn’t realize the embargo was broken until about 12 hours later … I searched Google, found the offending post, and realized how late it was to follow up. It wasn’t like the thing had just been published. I would be following someone else’s story half a day later, and no one wants to do that.

They just wrote about Lyft before Lawler did. They weren’t supposed to mention it until next Tuesday but they did. Meaning that while Lawler “got drunk,” “danced a little,” and “went home and passed out,” some other journalist didn’t get drunk, danced very little, and went home and filed a story. And because that other journalist did, Lawler can’t write about Lyft now. He can’t. Even though

it’s become really popular among the TechCrunch staff. Alexia, Josh, Kim, and I are all users. We all love the service, love what these guys are doing.

He can’t write about it, because someone else announced the launch before he did. He loves the service, but someone else wrote about it before he did so now he can’t write about it. He

really wanted to support them and get the word out. Sometimes you’re ambivalent about a startup, and so it’s not a big deal to just let that one go. But this was a product and a team that I like. I want them to succeed.

So he really wanted to support a company he loves, one that wined-and-dined him a mere twelve hours earlier, but now he can’t because someone else wrote about them first. This service that he loves must be punished because of someone else’s mistake. The only reason Lawler even deigned to write about Lyft despite being beat to the story is because he wants our sympathy. He was supposed to break this story. His was supposed to be the bland press release that no one really ever bothers to read. But now that someone else has written about Lyft, the best he can do is write a post so overbrimming with misguided passive-aggression that no one should ever take him seriously again.

Note that none of this has anything to do with the quality of the journalism. Or the quality of the product for that matter. It’s all about the journalistic imperative to yell “FIRST!” on the Internet. And do you know what I think of people whose life’s goal is to yell “FIRST!” on the Internet? Especially when they claim to be journalists?

I think they’re terrible human beings.

Comments (63)

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  1. Incontinentia Buttocks says:

    First!

    • Fuh- oh god damn it. I’m not even going to write a comment now.

    • Jameson Quinn says:

      First!

    • sparks says:

      What? Is this Sadly, No? now?

      On topic: Tech writers as a group have always been appalling. From the dawn of PC Magazine to those fawning profiles written by the New Yorker’s tech specialist during the ’90s (forgotten his name, do not want to remember it), it’s been nothing but one long, boring blowjob for access. In a way I like how the writer lays bare just how juvenile they are.

      • SEK says:

        As did I, which is why I decided to write this. They always behave like this, but the fact that they’re claiming to be aggrieved and then defending their behavior is what makes this particular piece so damning.

        (And no, this isn’t Sadly, No? now, at least I don’t think so. If it is, though, I can’t help but wonder where my share of their my ad revenue is.)

        • sparks says:

          To me, what Lawler wrote was so inadvertently perfect I may send it to my technodweeb friends and see how they react. Yes, I Was Once A Teenage Technodweeb. Until my 30s, in fact.

          Sadly, No! is the only place I go where First! is still a common opening comment to a post, even if Bozo The Cocksucker does threaten to kill anyone who does it.

          • Warren Terra says:

            You read the S,N! Comments? Lovely people, many of them, but my god is that a subculture.

            • sparks says:

              More so than at Eschaton? It seemed every comment thread there turned into a cat discussion except for a Simels rant about some entertainment thing, and nobody engaged the post at all. I don’t remember when I packed it in there, it seems so long ago.

              • Warren Terra says:

                I haven’t read the comments at Eschaton since at least 2003, probably 2002. The comments at S,N! may be self-referential, but at least they’re witty.

                • sparks says:

                  It’s a little clubby at S,N! (I’m not a member, the dues are too high and Retardo Montalban retired anyhow). Eschaton was reminiscent of those old AOL chat rooms I despised, though there were no propositions for cybersex like AOL.

                • Nom de Plume says:

                  Sadly, No! is, sadly, a very pale shade of what it once was. All of the founders are apparently retired, so it’s now given over almost entirely to a promoted commenter who doesn’t know you can write anything with fewer than 5000 words.

                • sparks says:

                  Heh. The way I go on, I should’ve hung around and gotten promoted. Then again, reading Cerb is like being forced to view an extended fisking session.

                • Halloween Jack says:

                  S,N! was pretty chat-roomy too, which is why I stopped going there (I used to post as The Goddamn Batman). And the politiblog-turned-social-club nonpareil, IMO, is still FDL, whose members call each other “firepups” and post “Fitz!” instead of “First” as if it’s funny or something. I was relieved that they mostly left TBogg alone when he went under the FDL umbrella, but every now and then they invade and start posting about each others’ pets in the comments or some shit and I feel like yelling at them to go bug Jane Hamsher.

                • I do miss The Goddamned Batman. One of the reasons I started working on the JanusNode Death Pet routine was that I was mean enough not to give a shit about what people were doing in their personal lives and I did not want to backslap or console on the silly fun website. That one got a plea for mercy now and then. I figured the “firsts” were an Eschaton carryover.

              • SEK says:

                my god is that a subculture

                As opposed to here, where we’re aware of all walrus-fuckers? (I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, mind you.)

        • Room says:

          Dan Lyons wrote a great article about how writers in the tech industry check out their journalistic integrity, when they get a job in places like Techcrunch.

          • Room says:

            Check out, check in? Potato potato.

          • sparks says:

            If I were to give up my journalistic integrity it’d have to be for swag, like Pournelle, who used to brag about every bit of kit he got from some grateful manufacturer he shook down. It’s easier than robbery, which takes genuine initiative.

            This is not meant to imply I have any journalistic integrity. That would require me being a journalist.

          • BackScatter25 says:

            Good article even if Dan Lyons is also a complete douche himself.

            • Room says:

              He is indeed a grade-a douche, which makes that article all the more astounding for its accomplishment to make people like us agree with him.

              But credit where credit is due.

        • Anonymous says:

          I don’t know of any other blogger that just says someone is a terrible human being for their political posts.

          Try arguing your positions instead of simply attacking personally. You’ll appear more grown up.

    • Left_Wing_Fox says:

      You are obviously not aware of all Internet traditions.

      It’s “Frist”.

      Kitten murder optional

  2. DrDick says:

    “Self absorbed idiot” I think was the term you were looking for.

  3. arguingwithsignposts says:

    From what I have learned about the tech industry and journalism, it’s just as much a Village as the one on the east coast.

  4. It’s TechCrunch. It was hit or miss before AOL bought it and everyone worth their salt headed for the exits.

  5. Warren Terra says:

    I’m in academic biological research, so far (FSM willing), and I absolutely know people – some brilliant – who are doing work that, if every sign of their existence were to be erased from the face of the earth, would be published by another research group in essentially identical fashion around the same time they would have published their results had they not been so extirpated. They’re chasing the next obvious experiment in a high-profile field, and they’re far from the only people doing so. I’ve always felt that was sad, and somewhat wasteful (replication is important, but this isn’t really about that). I would much rather do something that is in some way unique, something I can call my own and in which I can make a genuine difference. I don’t want to be remembered for being first among many (or, more likely, early among many, if that), but for having created something different.

    In this instance, Lawler decided that because he wasn’t first, he had nothing interesting to say. But that’s silly: he actually uses the service. He has friends and colleagues who use it. They like the service, and probably have complex and worthwhile things to say about it! So, he won’t be the first person to tell the world this awesome party happened, or that the company exists – so what? He still has a chance to tell the story of the company better rather than first, and still in a timely fashion. Or maybe he could do some reporting, rather than complaining that someone has unfairly bogarted the hand-fed info-scraps he and his peers were meant to share.

  6. But I’ll be damned if I’m gonna follow someone’s story 12 hours after the fact.

    Ohnoes, twelve whole hours! Get the fuck over yourself.

    As always, my feelings are best expressed by linking to a story from the Onion.

  7. Hogan says:

    I’ve broken embargoes in the past. Everyone has. Ask any reporter, and if he tells you he’s never broken an embargo, you know that he’s lying.

    Die. Die horribly and go to a hell of my making, because I don’t trust you to make you suffer enough.

  8. Calming Influence says:

    The key to the Sadly,No! comments is not to read the posts to which they’re attached until after you’ve added something pithy. Only then should you read the other comments, and finally the original post.

    Which is probably the best approach to tech posts as well, except skip that last part.

  9. Herbert Hoover says:

    Tech reporters are TRASH. Look at this piece of shit. Bell Labs was overrated?!? The place that invented the fucking transistor, the laser, information and the touch tone phone was overrated because they didn’t inaugurate some Jetsons style phantasy world?

    http://www.forbes.com/sites/michaelkanellos/2012/06/27/was-bell-labs-overrated/

  10. arguingwithsignposts says:

    TechCrunch was Michael Arrington’s vanity project, right? One huge insufferable ego (Arrington) taken over by another (Huffington). Sadly, one of them survived the inevitable car-wreck of insufferability that was destined to occur. I was rooting for injuries.

  11. Collin says:

    This has always been TechCrunch’s MO: the only way they’ll write about a startup/product launch is if they’re given an exclusive or embargo priority. In the case of the product I work on, they refused to have anything to do with us expressly and explicitly because we had given interviews to other sites about our launch. They will never write about us, ever, unless we fail.

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