To: Daniel Lyons, Forbes Magazine
RE: Attack of the Blogs Cover Article
I don't know you and you don't know me, but I do know a few editors and reporters at Forbes and have been reading it for more than 20 years. I've found it to usually be both intelligent and provocative, although written as if it were catering to stock market shorters. Last February, I was flattered to be covered by Forbes Online's former reporter Arik Hesseldahl for my work coaching a start up called Jambo Networks, for whom I devised a blog strategy that helped an unknown company get onto the playing field for very little marketing cost.
I was embarrassed for both you and Forbes today, when I read your one-sided, fact-bashing diatribe. I would have expected this level of journalism to have come from other sources such as the New York Post or the online Guardian. Most people understand that charging Yahoo! and Google with conspiracy to libel is like accusing SBC or Verizon with conspiracy to slander. I would have thought Daniel, as one of the journalists, who still not only has a job, but has one for a respected business publication, that you, or your editor would be wiser than that. I would have thought you had more class.
As for the case of Gregory Halpern, I had not heard about this until you raised it. So I did what I usually do. I Googled him. The first blog mention was #16, and it was one written by the English Guy, a blog whose author, like me, does not doubt that Halpern had been maligned by a verbal sniper who used a blog for his weapon. Certainly, you are familiar that verbal snipers have for centuries used print media toward the same ends. In J-School, Daniel, did you not study about James Calendar who managed to slander John Adams, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson before he was found mysteriously floating face down in the Delaware River? Are you not aware of what crap Joseph Pulitzer shoveled out to make the millions now being doled out in the prized named for him? Do you never look at the two surviving New York tabloids or see headlines in Supermarket tabloids about Aliens who made Hillary Clinton their love slaves?
I know you would never do such a thing, Daniel, and if you did, Forbes would help you join the 100,000 American journalists who have lost their jobs in this country since 2001.The fact that your profession is among the fastest shrinking in the country makes you want to reach out and punch something that is flourishing when you are not. That would explain your inane thrashing at Yahoo! and Google. They have certainly hurt traditional publications--but not by web hosting, as you imply, so much as by providing a more efficient and effective advertising system that has diverted so many dollars from paychecks like yours.
I write this without glee, Daniel. I was educated as a journalist and spent a dozen wonderful years doing it. I had the ethics of balance drilled into my head in college and slapped into my forehead by gruff editors, long since gone who shaped the ethics of my life, whose ghosts leaned on my shoulder when I recently co-authored my first book. In those lessons I learned the dangers and stupidity of stereotyping any group, particularly 20 million of us.
We are a diverse lot, and yet the blogosphere has often demonstrated the wisdom of a crowd of this size. We are also a self-correcting and forgiving group for the most part. For example, you mentioned Kryptonite, a company that the blogosphere did indeed soundly thrash. But on this book blog, Donna Tocci, Kryptonite's classy PR representative got to argue Kryptonite's case and move the needle for her company in the eyes of the blogosphere. All she had to do was join the conversation. She got more traction from that, I would guess, than the Letter to the Editor that Forbes once told a client of mine to write after he was falsely maligned by your publication and saw his stock dip as a result.
Which brings us back to your guy Halpern. If you read the sidebar to your cover article, the first suggestion erases your stated claim that when the blogosphere strikes, there is nothing you can do. Halpern could have started his own blog. He could have joined the conversations at other blogs. He could have stated his side of the case, and people would have listened.
As far as the silliness of calling us a lynch mob, Daniel. My free advice to you is to be very grateful on a personal level that your charge is without merit.