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March 12, 2006

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Style over Substance in Silicon Alley:

» Silicon Alley Lives..in the Syle Section from Ari Paparo Dot Com
Jason Chervokas gives the Times a shellacking over the Silicon Alley is back piece that ran in the Styles section... [Read More]

» Back Alley Fighting from Brouhaha
I wanna party like it's 1999. -Prince The New York Times published a puff piece in this weekend's Style section about the supposed return of Silicon Alley. This has launched a mini-whirlwind of reaction from the Alley's former players such as @NY's Jas... [Read More]

» Like the Old Days from The River
It feels just like the "good old days" in "Silicon Alley," when Jason [Read More]

Comments

Jason

Uhhh... I always called it straight and you know it. I called out TheGlobe the day they went public, calling them a scam (which they even put in their book!). I said the NASDAQ was out of control and was 3-4x what it should have been out (which turned out to be *exactly* right). I also put the Hindenburg on the cover!

The reason we were much bigger than @NY (and made 10x the money) was because we did print, events, and a daily email newsletter. You guys did a weekly email--which was great for sure--but we beat you because we went bigger and were better at branding. You guys were great journalists, I was a great publisher who hired great journalist.

I was always blunt and called it like I saw it. Don't hate me just because I was better at making a brand than you guys were!

best j

GhostOfSiliconAlleyPast

Sounds like a throwing down of the gauntlet to me. "Hey Chervokas, you gonna let Calacanis talk to you like that?! Fight, fight, fight, fight...!"

:^)


Seriously though, Calacanis has at least admitted on his own blog that he's never been a good journalist, or particularly smart, just a really aggressive hustler, something I've been telling people for some time. Nice to see him finally admit it. Of course it's easy to start coming clean once you've joined the millionaires club.

"Hey Chervokas, kick his ass! :^)"

chervokas

I never hated you Jason. Still don't. I DO think there was a fair amount of back slapping, and kissy-face self congratulation in SAR's tone. As my mother would say, "that's not to my taste." But that's neither here nor there. My intent w/ the above piece wasn't to disparage you. You did great. Especially w/ the events. My point was to disparage the gee whiz, style-conscious tone of today's NYT piece, and to put it in context.

You're right, the big difference, in terms of financial opportunity, between @NY and SAR was online vs. print. (Although when I wrote about walking away from money I wasn't talking about SAR, I was talking about advertisers calling to ask us to change our coverage, or refusing to advertise after hard hitting but fair pieces we wrote, both of which happened).

I have no regrets about walking away from the advertisers or about choosing to try to make our way by helping to invent a new publishing paradigm. As much as anything, when we launched @NY, it was an experiment in using the Net as non-academic publishing platform. That, as well as the story, was what interested us. Making a living at it was a dream at the time. In 1995 the idea that you could actually make a living publishing on the Net was highly speculative, remember, in those dial-up days before the online services even had Web browers.

I'm damn proud of the way our initial vision has played out. The stuff I see out there today in terms of tech coverage and commentary on blogs captures a lot of the tone of @NY. And a lot of what we were trying to do in 1995--push instead of pull, Net as publishing platform, two-way relationship between "reporters" and readers, etc--is received wisdom when it comes to RSS and how to do intimate, high-end online content. When we sold @NY--profitably--it was because it was time to get out (a year ahead of the crash). We were right about that too.

And I don't think we did too bad at brand building either. The brand long outlived our personal involvement with it. And in fact it's still in use (but just barely) by Jupitermedia.

Anyway, it's all along time ago. But it's nice to hear from you.

Tom W.

A long time ago, indeed - but I'm still pretty damned proud of the association. Contrary to what Jason Calacanis says, people do remember @NY's contribution.

reader

who cares what section a story runs in!?!?sounds like more an issue of your ego than of substance. was the story on the mark or not? the reporter is a former of wired. perhaps the story would have run in metro or the business section if they had reporters covering new media in NYC. seems kind of ridiculous to trash the people at the Times who were onto it.

chervokas

reader, as Tom Watson wrote over at his blog, the story wasn't on the mark, and particularly because it took a "style" bent--look how cool silicon alley is again--instead of a more serious reportorial bent about the fiscal health of the companies in question and the impact of the start ups on the city economy, etc....all the kinds of things on which an editor on the metro or business desks would likely have insisted.

As to my ego, while it may be true that I have a sizable one, I have nothing invested in this story....I got out of the "silicon alley" news business more than 6 years ago.

Who cares what section a story runs in? For one thing every reporter and editor at the Times...they measure their lives by it and believe me, leading the Style section ain't the same as leading the business section (where today Saul Hansell has an excellent, lengthy, well-reported piece on what he very cleverly dubs "slivercasting." Kudos, Saul.) For another thing, readers. Personally I never look at the Style section, but the enormous headline over today's lead caught my eye because it involved a subject I once had been involved in. A business, tech or metro reader who might be concerned with tech start ups in NY probably missed the story altogether. Also readers typically don't take a Style section story seriously they way they might a Metro section story. That also reflects an internal attitude not only at the Times but throughout the newspaper business which considers things like the style page to be the toy department of the news business. Running a story about silicon alley in the style section is a specific reflection that the editors at the Times have made a decision that the story is to be considered fluffy and written without the kind of focus on hard core business and technology questions that a similar story in metro or business would be expected to answer.

I don't know St. John, maybe he's a good reporter. Certainly his piece was competent, and far be it from me to judge a reporter by work that appears under his byline at the Times. There's no telling what editors might have done to it. But being ex-wired doesn't confer any status beyond the same ink stained professionalism we all share.

reader

interesting -- when I read the story my reaction was, wow, more business reporting than i expected! seemed pretty thorough to me. who knows -- I'm guessing a newspaper like the Times would probably have multiple editors from different sections read a story that was cross-discipline like this one. i have no idea if that happened here, but i dont think they're that stupid over there. but you bring up blair, so maybe.

Anyway, basically it seems like the style section is the 'young people's section' so sure maybe it had a more general-audience angle to it, but it just seems sort of silly to bash the style section for a scoopy story. bash the business section and everyone else who was sitting on the story for like a year and didnt run it. just a thought.

and i just googled st. john and he wrote a profile of calacanis for wired back in the day, which i shall read presently.

chervokas

Reader, I wrote for the Times so I'm all too familiar w/ the editorial gauntlet. Definitely no cross editorial review--except maybe in a rare case w/ a major story.

But its not always the reporter's fault. I think I wrote the first piece they ever ran about MP3 file sharing years ago, and it was like pulling teeth getting the editor on the Biz desk to think this was a big story (btw, the story wasn't early in the history of MP3 file sharing, it was 1998 I think). Anyway, I finally convinced him to take a look at a story. I gave him 2600 very thorough words which he cut down to 700, changed the tone to be very snarky towards file traders and buried the story deep in the D section. Don't get the wrong idea, I'm not complaining. I got paid. I did my job. I'm just citing it as an example of the editorial gauntlet you need to run as a reporter there.

Nicholas

As a longtime fan of @NY (AND of Silicon Alley Reporter - it would never have crossed my mind to choose!), and someone quoted in the Times piece, I have to say I think St. John did a pretty good job.

All in all, the piece was pretty mellow, the young entrepreneurs demonstrated appropriate restraint in their expectations, and the Meetup anecdote in the lede was pretty funny. I went to the tech meetup last month (couldn't make it this month), and it really was pretty high-energy and fun -- somewhat, dare I say, like an early WWAC meeting (but different, of course).

I might even be so bold as to suggest that this piece was a lot less hype-y than several pieces that _have_ run in business pages -- especially the WSJ piece (quoting unnamed sources) suggesting that Daily Candy's worth $100 million (I'm not saying it's definitely not, but I thought that was some masterful spin).

But hey, iVillage is worth more than MySpace -- what more proof do you need that the Silicon Alley meme hasn't died?

I totally agree that content is always going to be NYC's strong suit (versus technology)... Gawker, Weblogs, Flavorpill, Daily Candy, and (I guess) Thrillist and College Humor all fit the mold.

Actually, I kind of liked Saul's piece and Warren's piece hitting in the same issue...

chervokas

Nicholas-

You're right, the St. John piece wasn't bad. It was fine. But the whole premise behind it reflects that the Times doesn't take the story of NY media tech business seriously. It's a gossip and lifestyle story to them. Maybe that's all it should be. I don't know, haven't been keeping up. But if the Silicon Alley meme as you put it equals kids at play with make believe businesses with stupid unsupportable valuations, then Fred's right, everyone would be better off putting the moniker to rest.

I thought Saul's piece was excellent. Enormous--rarely do you get that kind of space at the Times unless you're writing for the magazine section -- w/ reporting about numbers. A nice round up that the editors clearly intended for the readers to take seriously vs. the "those crazy kids are back" tone favored in the style section.

So Diversion Media is a "slivercasting" biz (gotta give Saul credit for that term, I love it)? Nice spot. I think there's a big inflection point for IP video coming--hell, my mother who types IM's with one finger has 5 Mbps fiber to the home (w/ speed of up to 30 available to her). That's gonna make a difference in kind for the consumption of Internet media.

Nicholas

we're a lots-of-slivers biz -- it feels like a terrific spot, if I do say so myself...!

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