The “real journalists” need to grow up

By Bryan Goldberg , written on July 1, 2013

From The News Desk

A few months ago, a prominent freelance journalist named Nate Thayer exploded against a young editor who made the mistake of asking him to write for free.

His tone and response were inappropriate and obnoxious, and I was one of many people who pointed this out.

But there was one thing about Nate Thayer that one could not ignore — he has always been the real deal.

He is a “real journalist” — one of a few thousand people in America who can make a living through his reporting. But more than that, he actually reports on important issues and risks his life to do so. I don’t like him, but I can at the very least respect him.

So, you can imagine how pathetic it is to read the whiny ramblings of other “real journalists” who seem to be making names for themselves fighting against… well… anybody who slightly annoys them.

Why talk about Kim Jung Un when we can hear Alexis Madrigal grill Sean Parker? Why concern ourselves with Mohamed Morsi’s fascism when George Packer and the New Yorker are exposing Dave Morin? Perhaps Mother Jones can report on real racism, as opposed to their article on Silicon Valley — the region of America that most overwhelmingly funded and voted for a black president. Does the Bay Area have uneven representation of its business leaders? Yes. Would IVP have given $80 million to Snapchat, even if the company were founded by purple hamsters? Absolutely.

In short, it’s time for the media elite, and their stable of “real journalists” to start covering real news and stop half-assing their way through some poorly-researched Sean Parker roasting.

This complete charade has been annoying those of us who actually do stuff with our lives for a while now — and I am no stranger to it myself.

A few weeks ago, a “real journalist” named Joe Eskenazi won a prestigious award for his preposterous and poorly researched “profile” of the company I co-founded, Bleacher Report.

His fellow “real journalists” deemed him worthy of praise in reporting, even though he never once contacted me to discuss Bleacher Report. How accurate can a profile of a company be when the author does not even attempt to contact the founder?

In the last four years, I have had innumerable conversations with journalists, entrepreneurs, and techies who want to know more about Bleacher Report’s history. It is not difficult to get into contact with me. Sarah Lacy did it for years, before anybody knew anything about Bleacher Report.

I’m sure that Joe Eskenazi contacted the company’s receptionist or PR firm in a token and half-hearted effort to get in touch with our founders — of course, this “real journalist” never made a real effort to reach me.

… but he had no problem finding a few spurned detractors, mostly amongst former freelancers no longer working with the company.

What a sleuth!

It was the same sort of “denounce first, and ask questions later” approach to journalism that Sean Parker decried in his TechCrunch post.

Ultimately, though, Sean Parker has made one huge mistake in his response to the wedding “scandal” that was completely invented by the media…

He let it get to him.

Sean Parker should not have given a point-by-point response to Alexis Madrigal.

What he should have done, is basked in the knowledge of what he — Sean Parker — is and what Alexis Madrigal will never be.

Sean Parker is a person who fundamentally changed the world when he created Napster. He is somebody who helped put Facebook on a path towards empowering worldwide revolutions, when it might have otherwise sold to Yahoo or lost to better-funded competitors. He is a person with so much money that he could start a foundation that saves thousands of lives a year, and still have enough money left over to buy The Atlantic.

Alexis Madrigal should also bask in the knowledge of what he is when he is not diluting his brand through petty tabloid articles that he is forced to quasi-retract. If he wants to report on social issues, maybe he could write about his hometown Oakland, which is basically a giant metaphor for ‘regional wealth disparity’.

When “real journalists” belittle themselves through their actions, it is important to call them out. It is the dignified and responsible thing to do. Joe Eskenazi can forever cherish his journalism award, but it does not change the fact that he has lowered himself by squandering his investigative efforts on a popular sports website.

In a world where “real journalists” are an endangered species, don’t they have something better to do than jealously thumb their nose at rich kids? Shouldn’t they lash out at the people who actually destroyed journalism (i.e. their bosses) and not at people like Sean Parker, who have demonstrably facilitated the spread of free information?

It’s time for them to grow the hell up and quit fiddling while the world of journalism burns behind them.

[Illustration by Hallie Bateman]