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Blogs Are Eating Tech Media Alive 247

Heinz writes with an article in Forbes on how advertising in tech media is drying up and going — where else? — into specialist blogs and Google. "Silicon Valley is booming again. But if you work in tech media, there's blood on the floor. Take Red Herring. It hung onto its offices after getting the eviction notice earlier this month. But gossip site Valleywag is breaking story after story not just on its beat — but about its woes. Meanwhile, bigger publications are hurting too: Time Warner's Business 2.0 saw ad pages drop 21.8% through March from the same period a year ago; PC Magazine's editor in chief walked out the door after ad pages fell 38.8% over the same period; and one-time online powerhouse CNET is reporting growing losses even as the companies it covers flourish. It may be happening in tech first, but there's no reason the same thing won't happen, eventually, in every media niche."
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Blogs Are Eating Tech Media Alive

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  • by QuantumG ( 50515 ) <> on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @02:47AM (#19884875) Homepage Journal
    Look at Slashdot, they don't need no stinkin' editors.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @03:17AM (#19885007)
      It's not a matter of editors eating up all their money as it is that that they have a reputation for spanning their articles over 3 or 4 times as many pages as they should in a blatant attempt to get more 'clickthroughs' or 'eyeballs' or whatever they call it. If they used ads responsibly and had legitimate content, maybe people would think twice about either turning off their ad-blocking software or clicking on an ad or two. I know I would.

      QuantumG seems like a guy who is bitter he isn't in the same position.
      • by BillyBlaze ( 746775 ) <> on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @04:27AM (#19885265)
        Multiple pages are annoying, yes, but the biggest problem is the lack of links. When talking about technology, there's usually a relevant web site. Blogs will link to it, maybe adding some commentary of their own. But most journalism is written with the intent that you'll learn everything you want to know from the article itself, or other articles from the same source. Unfortunately I'm not sitting on a bench in the park in 1960 reading a newspaper, I'm on the internet, and if your site won't link to more information about the subject at hand, I'll go somewhere that will. And I don't just mean links to related stories - I want links to other sites. I know it's scary, but don't worry, if your story is interesting, I'll open it in another tab, and I'll continue ignoring your ads when I close it.
        • by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @04:53AM (#19885379) Journal
          That might be part of it, but I think the main reason tech journalism is failing is because so much of tech journalism is really third rate regurgitation of company press releases. Journalism on the whole has been failing the public, but I think tech journalism has been on the leading edge of that failure.

          More broadly, mass media on the whole sucks. And now that it's possible for anyone to produce media, the suck monopoly is broken. There are a lot of sucky tech blogs out there, just like there's lots of bad video on you tube and crappy bands competing for attention on MySpace. Why buy mass media crap or read mass media crap when there is all this other crap? The mainstream can't compete with this inundation of crap, at least not without offering a quality product. And what are the chances of that?
          • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @07:30AM (#19885877)

            While I agree with almost everything that has been said by posters in this thread, no-one has yet commented on the round that was lethal. Most tech news sites are indeed full of ad-ridden republished press releases edited by people who are technically incompetent. Most tech blogs are indeed full of poorly written "commentary" with no original research. However, with so many blogs around, there are bound to be a few really good ones, which do offer thoughtful commentary, deep understanding of the issues covered, previously hard-to-find information, and/or original research.

            Such blogs also tend to link to other worthwhile source material by their nature. In addition, blogs typically support comments, or more usefully full-blown web forums, mailing lists or Usenet groups. The combination means informed people can share knowledge and ideas once the scene has been set by the good bloggers, and I imagine that most discerning geeks, having found a few such blogs as starting points, simply have no need to bother with the numerous low-quality sites any more. I know I don't...

          • That is a priceless line! I agree with you completely.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by skorf ( 832428 )
        turn off my ad-blocking software?! I would never think of it!! That would be like asking me to turn off my popup blocking software!
      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @09:34AM (#19886613) Homepage Journal
        Why Tech sites are failing?
        1. The readers of tech sites know how to block ads. Heck I have so many wildcards in my ad blocking software that many times when I go to a new site I don't see any ads.
        2. They place ads in such a say as to demand that they are blocked. When they put the ad in the middle of the text that screams BLOCK ME NOW. And while your at it use a wild card. Also any ads that use Flash are also just asking to be blocked. I have to wonder if these people are just clueless or what? The real shame is that in print I value the ads. They are less intrusive and I often seek them out. On the Internet they tend to get into the way. Google ads are the exception.
        3. Lack of depth. Back in the good old days of Byte, Micro, Dr Dobbs, and Computer language the articles where great and in depth. Byte has articles on making your own EEG, SBC, and even how to make your own PC. When I mean make your own PC I mean actually making the motherboard not getting the latest form ASUS. Most articles these days are on which Core2Duo motherboard will let you over clock the cpu .5% more then the others or which $600 graphics card will get you 3 more FPS out of Oblivion.
        4. Web 2.0 Frankly between, iGoogle, and Slashdot I don't need to read any tech site every day.
        5. Bad journalism. This is the real killer. Why can't they stop trying to write flame bait?
        • by evilviper ( 135110 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @10:39AM (#19887233) Journal

          The real shame is that in print I value the ads. They are less intrusive and I often seek them out.

          Have you picked up a magazine lately? They're getting much, much worse. Ads that span 4 pages. Just about every article split-up into pieces. And they all seem to be getting worse.

          Popular Mechanics is the worst I've seen. There is literally no difference between content and ads. An advertisement may be a column of text talking about a product, written exactly like the rest of their articles, in the middle of a page with actual articles. Perhaps they're just "forward thinking" and an example of the future for all other magazines.

          On the Internet they tend to get into the way. Google ads are the exception.

          I hope you mean just the ads on, because use of Google's Adwords seems to be getting worse... A huge horizontal column of text ads across the top of the screen, a huge vertical column of text ads squeezing the body down to half the size, another section of text ads in the middle of the article you're reading, and every other word double under-lined and displaying a huge pop-up over the page if your mouse should accidentally pass over it. You'd think Google would have some bare minimum standards as to how their service gets used.
        • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

          by dada21 ( 163177 )
          So what is the answer? Community-supported forums won't last due to the high bandwidth and processor cost of running a forum. I know, I host and maintain somewhere in the neighborhood of 6 dozen forums (all ad supported) and the hosting costs can be a nightmare. We did co-lo for a while, but that was a bigger mess, so now we're with NFSN.

          1. Advertising keeps them in business because of the bell curve -- some people block ads, some people overclick ads (causing them to pay zero), but the middle ground is
      • is that that they have a reputation for spanning their articles over 3 or 4 times as many pages as they should in a blatant attempt to get more 'clickthroughs' or 'eyeballs' or whatever they call it.

        Have you seen the new layout that Gawker Media blogs are using now? It's designed specifically to get more click throughs. They put half of the content for an article compared to what they used to. Now, instead of reading the summary and deciding whether or not to click read the rest, they don't even put
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Avenel ( 603755 )
      Slashdot has editors?!
  • by m0nkyman ( 7101 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @02:50AM (#19884889) Homepage Journal
    Anytime I want to research something now, I go to the appropriate forum. There are serious experts available at pretty much all of them. e.g: Want to learn about cellphones: Want to find out about military firearms: . There's a site for everything.

    Blogs are great for some stuff, but forums are just killing the tech magazines, and the special interest stuff.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @02:52AM (#19884895)
      ... want to find out about last week's news: slashdot.
    • by GizmoToy ( 450886 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @03:35AM (#19885079) Homepage
      I can agree with this. I rarely visit blogs for anything, but will often consult forums for just about everything. Tech support-type stuff is particularly well-suited to the forum/newsgroup format. This is especially true if you have a question you can't find a pre-existing answer for. Just the other day I had a non-trial question about Ruby On Rails, so I went over to RailsForum [] and had an answer within a few hours. So forums do have specific advantages over both blogs and traditional media.

      Perhaps the biggest advantage for blogs over traditional tech magazines would be product reviews, in my opinion. An online reviewer with dozens of user-posted comments is more reliable than a single possibly advertiser-paid reviewer.
    • by mrbluze ( 1034940 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @04:27AM (#19885263) Journal

      Blogs are great for some stuff, but forums are just killing the tech magazines, and the special interest stuff.

      So while blogs are eating tech media alive, forums prefer to have tech media medium rare topped with firewire sauce, with a side of tarballs and microchips, washed down with a glass of wine... or something like that.

      • ...washed down with a glass of wine... or something like that.
        Wine? Cool aid! And you forgot to mention the Microsoft brand chocolate FUD.
      • "...and a nice Chianti..."
      • So while blogs are eating tech media alive, forums prefer to have tech media medium rare topped with firewire sauce, with a side of tarballs and microchips, washed down with a glass of wine... or something like that.
        How about fava beans and a nice chianti? thbttbhttbhtbht!
    • by Ohreally_factor ( 593551 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @04:57AM (#19885385) Journal
      There needs to be a forums forum, where I can go to find which forums are authoritative on a given subject.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by King_TJ ( 85913 )
      There's *much* truth in what you're saying here. At first, I agreed with the earlier comments ... Tech sites are dying because of all the pop-up ads, or because they just regurgitate A.P. wire news and press releases, rather than going out to actually GET a new story.

      BUT, as I think about it, I end up looking to forums for all my in-depth knowledge on specific items too. If I think back to 10 or 15 years ago, this really wasn't much of an option. If you were a computer fan, you got as "selective" as buyi
  • Good (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Joe Tie. ( 567096 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @02:55AM (#19884907)
    If, and I hate to use this term, new media has taught me one thing it's that any press but a journal is horrible for science and technology. Time and time again some reporter is sent out to cover pseudoscience, or thinly disguised ads, as if it was actual technological or scientific news. I'm convinced that watered down reporting, writing to a level that should be insulting to a middle school student, is one of the main causes for the publics ignorance and rejection of science. The public isn't stupid, and they know that the watered down analogies to the library of congress are bullshit. I'm only hoping that the websites that also speak to the public at a five year olds level will follow after and people will will find themselves presented with the actual facts of the matter again.
    • Re:Good (Score:4, Interesting)

      by belg4mit ( 152620 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @04:51AM (#19885373) Homepage
      I'm sorry, but the public *is* stupid. The sooner one wake's up to it, well the more miserable one is.
      Regardless, there is room for non-journal coverage of "STEM." Popular Mechanics? Awful. Popular Science?
      Pretty bad. New Scientist? Not Bad. Scientific American? Good. There are also things like Invention &
      Technology. While I've not subscribed in recent years, last I checked it did a pretty good job at telling
      stories of STS.

      STEM=Science, Technology, Engineering & Math (apparently the latest buzz-acronym in education)
      STS =Science, Technology & Society.
      • logy/ []

        Also, as further explanation, STS ~= history of tech and its impacts.
      • Re:Good (Score:4, Funny)

        by moeinvt ( 851793 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @07:42AM (#19885921)

        That's terrible! The government will probably confuse it with STEM cells and cut off funding.
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )
        It does not really matter whether the public is or is not stupid, all that matters is how many minutes and hours a day any person has to peruse any kind of Internet content.

        Tech forums are not getting eaten alive by blogs or forums, they are getting eaten alive by blogs and forums and media streams and by the shear volume of content now available across a whole range of web sites.

        Another big development is computer tech is all becoming a bit much of a yawn, a decade or more ago the changes in computer t

        • My personal opinion is it's a combination of everything mentioned so far.

          1) Most tech sites suck (Poorly designed, poorly laid out, too many ads). This sets a really low bar for surpassing the tech site with an elegantly simple layout with fewer ads.
          2) Most tech writers are writers not techies. They write about stuff they don't really understand. This means mainstream tech coverage is rarely insightful, and mostly regurgitation suitable only for people who aren't interested in reading it. This sets a re
      • by Lumpy ( 12016 )
        Problem is that "tech" journals like "Business 2.0" started out great. It was what many of us were looking for. The past year they degenerated into the "oooooh Shiney!" yuppie mag with zero content and lots of the new gadget to show off at he next meeting mag.

        Their business content went from innovative and informative, to clues for the nitwit that has no business in business management. It's as if they lost all their decent writers and started filling it with crud gleaned from hot to get rich quick book
  • Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @02:56AM (#19884913)
    I've had it enough with mainstream media who are incompetent when they're not being corrupt.
    • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

      by rs79 ( 71822 ) <> on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @03:09AM (#19884963) Homepage
      Damn, somebody said "Good" first. I was gonna.

      I write for a (non-tech) magazine. From the time I finish an article, email it to them and have it show up at my door in the magazine it's about 4 months. And scarcely anything in the magazine cannot be found on the net or an answer can be found to any question the magazine might answer.

      Print media is dying. That's news?

      They sure look purdy on my bookshelf though.
      • Print media is dying.

        I get a ton of magazine subscriptions via expired airline miles. Most of them I wouldn't get if they weren't free, but a few I'm willing to pay for once the free sub runs out: fashion and design magazines with pretty pictures and good art direction. These are well-suited to the print medium. Lucky, Domino, and Cookie all have web sites, but I like to be able to relax on the sofa or outside, put my feet up, and enjoy the eye candy. Magazines weigh a lot less than my laptop.

        I've found, th
  • by H4x0r Jim Duggan ( 757476 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @02:57AM (#19884919) Homepage Journal

    I think the funniest part is when the tech media starts publishing most of their articles on the "weblogs" section of their site. Like InformationWeek's 2 recent lamentable and much trashed articles about GPLv3.

    • by MoonFog ( 586818 )
      Is it just me or is Wired terrible at doing this? I feel that half the news I get from their RSS feed link back to their blog network. Wired are not the only ones, I agree with what you say, but they seem to be a big offender here.
  • by Zork the Almighty ( 599344 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @03:06AM (#19884945) Journal
    As much as I hate advertising, this is probably a bad sign. Companies won't do less advertising - it works too well, but at least on CNET we know where (most of?) the ads are. Who is sponsoring this or that tech blog? We've already seen "scandals" like that, although blogs are mostly not journalism. It is probably a lot cheaper and effective to buy out a few blogs and get consistent long term shilling than it is to buy recognizable ads on a bigger site. It has consistently been safe to predict that in the future we will be subject to more and more marketing that is more pervasive and less recognizable than ever before. It never seems to end.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ShieldW0lf ( 601553 )
      When you find these people who have no integrity, sell out and lie to the public, find out where they live and smash their brains out with a blunt object.

      There's nothing wrong with this culture that a few good old biblical stoning parties wouldn't fix.
    • by backwardMechanic ( 959818 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @03:36AM (#19885085) Homepage
      But isn't this the problem already? I'd feel more sorry for the tech magazines if they weren't so full of long-term-shilling themselves. Most articles are thinly-disguised paid advertisements. Advertisers are leaving the big magazines because we are - I don't bother reading them any more. Or if I do read them, I also want a feedback site to go with it. Slashdot might not be the place to get advice about life insurance, but if a tech writer is spreading FUD or throwing bad statistics around, the lovely folks here will warn me.
    • I read through 3/4ths of a website about traditional Japanese swords before I realized it was nothing but a shill for a line of Chinese reproductions sold by the website author. What's funny is that a lot of the information was legitimate. I probably would've bought one of his products if I hadn't felt like I had been conned.
  • They offer so little (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DECS ( 891519 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @03:09AM (#19884965) Homepage Journal
    What do CNET and Business 2.0 offer beyond smart alec FUD columnists and advertiser-friendly reviews?

    It was sad to see most of the serious newspapers dry up, leaving nothing but wire fed papers that write to a 4th grade reading level.

    It was sad to see local radio stations dry up, leaving nothing but Clear Channel fed recordings from Texas.

    However, I have few tears for crappy magazines and their equally vapid online "portals" that never offered much in the first place.

    The real issue is that we've sold off the Fourth Estate to advertisers, and we have very little real journalism left. We're all fed our news from the same ~5 mega corps who own everything. We are not informed because we gave up our media to capitalism, which works well as a way to price widgets, but is not really very good at providing truth. It only knows how to provide marketing spin.

    Bloggers could provide some respite, but the Internet provides little in terms of a reputation system. Anyone can shout down unpopular truths, and any group can astroturf their marketing messages. Few people who follow Digg or Reddit links verify the credibility of sources they visit.

    We've traded our serious tradition of journalism for a cheap bit of daily entertainment from who knows where and a media buffet prepared by a market driven media.

    The fact that the least fit portions of our capitalist replacement for journalism are struggling to survive should be expected. The fact that our media is being run like a free market is the real story.

    RoughlyDrafted Magazine []
    • by sgant ( 178166 )
      I have to agree with this. I basically stopped reading computer magazines after Byte Magazine went belly-up. All the others that were left were exactly has you describe them. Open up a PC world lately? It's 90% ads...which actually turn into about 99% ads when you read the actual articles.
  • The reason these ads are moving to the blogs is because the readership is at the blogs. The reason the readership is there is because bloggers are picking apart opinion pieces throughout the editorial world and reshaping them by arguing against their positions. Thus, readership is fleeing commercial journalism because the commercial rags aren't offering what readers want.

    What do readers want? These days, a little fucking truth would help. I think we're all sick of the clear commercial bias inherent in all these supposed tech reviews and bullshit 'secretly sponsored opinion'. The same is happening in professional news. TV and cable news viewership is down. WAY DOWN. Why is that? Because they don't offer news.

    When these 'tech journals' hire a few more reporters and start publishing real news, you'll see their readers and advertisers follow right back. Because, frankly, the blog-0-sphere offers no substantial news reporting either.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by suv4x4 ( 956391 )
      The reason the readership is there is because bloggers are picking apart opinion pieces throughout the editorial world and reshaping them by arguing against their positions. [...] frankly, the blog-0-sphere offers no substantial news reporting either.

      I like how you went circle there arguing against your own position. Is this how bloggers do?

      And let me tell you why why the masses won't get back to magazines even they got great tech reviews: because they're not free, and Internet is chock full of free informa
      • by maynard ( 3337 )
        You have cherry picked my words out of context. In context, I make perfect sense. Bloggers need not report news in order to create new content readers want to consume. They need only editorial and news gathering sources to cite. And an opinion in opposition to the source the blogger knows will be well received. And bingo!

        You argument is a non sequitur.
    • Bullshit (Score:5, Interesting)

      by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @05:31AM (#19885475) Homepage
      Yours is a reasonable opinion, but at the same time a little unfair. Take Slashdot, for example. Everybody is always complaining about the lack of editorial quality, yadda yadda yadda. But very few people recognize the fact that Slashdot doesn't break any news.

      Slashdot is really a glorified blog. It aggregates news sources from all over, stories that its members think are interesting. But without the original sources that generate these stories -- media outlets who pay writers to produce stories -- outlets like Slashdot disappear.

      You claim that readers want "a little fucking truth." Fair enough. But, by definition, Slashdot isn't in a position to generate anything but "a little fucking opinion." And you can't hate on it for doing so. That's what it's here for.

      I spent three years as a senior editor at InfoWorld, and I certainly have a lot of criticisms to offer about the tech trade media industry. But I can say, with absolute certainty, that when trade media outlets like InfoWorld disappear you will all be sorry.

      It goes against almost every fiber of my cynical being to say this, but your subject heading is full of shit. The problem is one hundred percent structural, zero percent editorial.

      There has never been a tech reporter who has picked his baggy-eyed head up off a table and blurted out, "You know what? We need to do more stories about the iPhone." Not one. Editors might think that a 300-story onslaught about the iPhone sounds like a good idea, but only because we have people breathing down our necks, too -- people who are beholden to bullshit metrics like hit counts, which look a whole like hard statistics, but are infinitely less reliable than the reader surveys that they used to conduct on newspaper readers.

      The good tech reporters who have stuck with this industry know what they're talking about. They write the stories that blogs like Slashdot link to. They might get it wrong from time to time -- fine. You're all there to call them on it. But they're still providing a valuable service.

      What's really wrong with this industry is the same thing that's wrong with every industry -- the willingness to suck cock for money. If you're putting out a blog, and somebody offers you an opportunity to make a lot of money -- money, you gloatingly think, that won't be spent on a mainstream tech media outlet -- shame on you. The only reason that company was able to buy a story is because you sold it to them. Hope you brushed your teeth afterward.

      You can pull a statistic out your ass that says the readership is all going to blogs. Fine. But can you really blame the management of the media outlets when they hear something like that? The answer is predictable: More blogs.

      Blogs on blogs on blogs. It's great! Blogs don't cost us anything and readers trust blogs more than they do reporters, so screw the reporters' salaries and let's hire more bloggers. The answer is more corporate blogs. And folks like you eat it up.

      Yeah, you heard me right. Is the media industry going to shit? Corporate media is on the blame list, for sure. But first on the list is you. Have you ever written your Congressman? Probably not. But even if you have, it's probably futile to ask that you write to your favorite media outlets and ask -- even beg -- them to cover real news, and not just fluff pieces and fake stories.

      Media outlets cover bullshit because the metrics tell them that bullshit is what people want, plain and simple.

      Hell, the only reason that I still read Slashdot (check out my user ID) is because the demographic of the stories is so narrow that I can guarantee that 5/6 of the stories posted are about something I'm at least slightly interested in. I bet that's not true for half the Slashdot readers, though.

      Yes, the world of media is going to shit. Yes, I hate it. Damned if I can do anything about it on my own, though.

      • Re:Bullshit (Score:4, Informative)

        by BiggerIsBetter ( 682164 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @07:27AM (#19885863)
        Slashdot is really a glorified blog. It aggregates news sources from all over, stories that its members think are interesting. But without the original sources that generate these stories -- media outlets who pay writers to produce stories -- outlets like Slashdot disappear.

        No, Slashdot is a glorified discussion forum. The discussion topics (news) is user submitted (albiet with editor assistance) and user moderated - it's not some random cat on the net spouting off about whatever and pining for attention, it's a large audience of participants interacting with each other. As long as the topics are relevant to the geek audience, I don't think it would much matter where they come from... indeed many links have been to purely amateur sources and projects as opposed to professional media.
        • Is there really all that big a difference between a dicussion forum and a blog? Sure the discussion forum might be moderated (as we do collectively here) and sure the blog might have a single "thread starter", but the end effect is not so different. It is opinions and opinions about opinions.

      • by Kelbear ( 870538 )
        I hate to break out web 2.0 buzz, but it is applicable in this case. The response is meta-data. There's a lot of crap to sift through to find the useful information, and meta-data helps pre-filter the results. Everything still needs to get passed through the reader's own crap-filter(for example, never look at positive comments on a sales site, only compare the negatives). Getting multiple sources is the reader's job now, and hopefully over time, "meta" sites will mature to keep ahead of the tidal wave of cr
    • >>What do readers want? These days, a little fucking truth would help.

      Blogs and even Slashdot remind me of conservative talk radio. People go there to hear other people validate and reinforce thier own pre-existing opinions. And you get a few that go there just to argue.

      I don't see truth in the equation, unless "truth" means "everybody here agrees with me." Slashdot is kind of a circle jerk for people with a particular world view, but somewhere else there is a circle jerk going on for a different worl
  • Latex for fun []. New book now out.

    No way the interwebs will take THAT away from me.

  • ads, not articles (Score:4, Insightful)

    by witte ( 681163 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @03:18AM (#19885013)
    This highlights that their primary business is not writing and selling tech articles to readers, but selling advertisement space.
  • I stopped reading computer mags back in early 1999 when one of the CDNET rags compared the latest Netware release to the features Microsoft was promising to include in Windows 2000 the next year. A news source that is less trustworthy than Usenet simply does not deserve to live. And frankly, if I can get three drug-addled Usenet trolls to endorse a product, I'm more likely to buy it than on the recommendation of PC Magazine.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @03:23AM (#19885033) Homepage

    A few years ago, Upside magazine went bust. Since I own Downside [], I looked into buying their domain, but the assets of Upside were eventually acquired by another tech publishing firm. The article didn't mention Upside, although they mentioned The Industry Standard and Business 2.0, which also tanked.

    We also lost Silicon Valley's newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News. It's been purchased by an outfit that runs cheesy suburban throwaways, and is being brought down to that level. It's still published, but nobody cares.

    And Murdoch is buying the Wall Street Journal. Soon, there will be very few information sources that actually go out and dig out news.

  • Obligatory (Score:5, Interesting)

    by adolf ( 21054 ) <> on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @03:40AM (#19885113) Journal
    I, for one, welcome our blog-spewing overlords!

    No, wait -- that's not what I mean at all. In fact, I mourn the loss of proper technical journalism in the world. Nobody bothers actually reviewing a product, or rendering an original opinion anymore.

    Instead, we get twelve pages of ads, with only sixteen paragraphs of whitewash [], er, ahem, content spread amongst them.

    I miss seeing reviews produced by competent and well-qualified people about things other than the latest 7800GTX repack. Just try to find useful comparison information on printers, monitors, keyboards, or even simple mice. These products are the human interface for the machine and are therefore among the most important facets of it, but unless it's twice as expensive as it should be and is intended for a child's gaming rig then there will be no reviews of it in the blogs.

    There's a thousand disparate e-commerce reviews to wade through, sure, but at least they're typically honest. Blog entries (if you can find one related) all lack any semblance of depth or integrity.

    The dead-tree derivatives like C|Net and the remains of Ziff-Davis aren't any better these days, as they flail about trying to copy their blog competitor's attention-deficit formatting and lack of editorial oversight, managing only to add more misery to their already inevitable death.

    Absolutely nobody ever bothers setting up repeatable tests for comparative measurement of anything in this century unless it can be done in the form of a Quake benchmark. And even then, products offering 1-2% gain for the low-low price of $200 more than everything else in the review are proclaimed to be the "clear winner" by some spineless high-school kid who is afraid to write a bad review for fear that XFX or MSI or whoever will turn off the free hardware spigot in retaliation.

    The fact that I find Amazon and Newegg customer reviews by the clueless masses to be some of the most meaningful and useful information available makes me feel like we've lost something important. It's probably gone forever.

    I, for one, am not very happy about it.

    • This is probably the most insight post of the bunch, well done.
    • Sure, the mainstream tech media were good at one time for reviews of products like printers and displays, but that time passed a long time before the independent sites started to take hold.

      Ever since the mainstream media sold out to their sponsors, and maintaining a friendly image to truly clueless users, they've been absolutely worthless. In essence, as long as we're talking about product reviews, they've been worthless for many yeas now. Also, go find a review that actually lays out and documents its te
    • You might like - they're obviously specialized in reviewing quiet parts, but I think they might be up to your review standards.
  • by logicnazi ( 169418 ) <logicnazi AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @03:50AM (#19885141) Homepage
    Whenever I run across a cnet page or similar tech news site (slashdot link, google search) I'm always disappointed. Usually everything they have to say could have fit in a paragraph but it's padded with out of context quotes and general fluff. It never tells me the interesting technical details I might want to know (say like kerneltrap summaries or wikipedia articles) nor does it present any well reasoned opinions that I might want to consider. Frankly the content is just so poor it's better to flail around until you run into the blog or other site that actually has something useful to say.

    The problem with sites like cnet is that they can't decide who their audience is. If they want to pitch their writing to the general public then they probably should stick with reviewing the iPhone and stay far away from stories about Linus's comments on the GPL3 or the latest groklaw controversy but the mainstream media has that pretty well covered. On the other hand if they want to appeal to people who are more informed about this stuff then dumbing it down and spending the whole time giving context just won't work.

    Maybe the problem is they hired journalism majors with a bit of tech knowledge rather than tech guys who can write reasonably. That's the right strategy for the NYT tech section not cnet. I dunno.
    • Maybe the problem is they hired journalism majors with a bit of tech knowledge rather than tech guys who can write reasonably. That's the right strategy for the NYT tech section not cnet. I dunno.

      It's not the right strategy for either. What they want is people who are both tech geeks 'and' journalism majors. I'd say it doesn't work at all for the new york times, at least in the science angle I'm familiar with. They usually have writeups by people who display an amazing ignorance of science, and it winds u
  • most of the so called tech media simply is, that it is not tech media it is more business magazines with articles in between which are close on the border of rewritten ads. There are exceptions like the Sigs magazines or Dr. Dobbs but those wont get into problems anyway, the magazines like WindowsXXX Magazine and something alike are the ones getting problems. If I want to read ads I am not going to pay for it. All I can say is, bring serious content then the readers wont run away.
  • by Thakandar2 ( 260848 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @04:03AM (#19885183)
    Posted by CmdrTaco on Tuesday July 17, @02:00AM
    from the advertising-in-tech-media-is-drying-up dept.

    CmdrTaco writes with articles from various specialist blogs covering the closing of Slashdot and its affiliates, due to the large decrease in ad revenue that has moved on to real blogs with commentary consisting of real substance and editorial content, instead of Soviet Russia, Netcraft, All your base, you must be new here, natalie portman, and other internet memes. Users will have two weeks to burn all their Karma, and subscribers will be priveledged to know that their remaining subscriptions will pay for the editors' unemployment.

    > slashdot, memes, karmaburning, yes, no, wontsomeonethinkofthechildren (tagging beta)
  • The innerweb is a disruptive technology! Why didn't someone warn us?
  • Scary Trend (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jomama717 ( 779243 ) * <> on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @04:20AM (#19885239) Journal
    I think the trend of print media succumbing to the "blogosphere" makes some sense for tech media like those discussed in TFA but I don't like where it's heading when it comes to the standard news print media.

    I read articles in the New York Times and other major newspapers with a warm and fuzzy notion that the journalist that wrote the piece - even if not totally unbiased - has done some honest, well-funded research and has some authority on the topic at hand. If the news print media were to vanish and be replaced by endless streams of blogs filled with non-objective opinions I think we'd really be sunk.

    Maybe a few major newspapers could continue to pull in enough online ad revenue to fund the kinds of journalism they can now, but many small market papers could not. We would then be stuck with an ever-shrinking pool of objective reporters giving us our news, and an exponentially growing pool of acid tongued, uninformed opinion spewers. Not to mention the fact that online crossword puzzles just aren't the same...
    • I read articles in the New York Times and other major newspapers with a warm and fuzzy notion that the journalist that wrote the piece - even if not totally unbiased - has done some honest, well-funded research and has some authority on the topic at hand.

      Given the NYT's performance on Iraq, I don't see what that warm and fuzzy notion is coming from? I'm sure many blogs are lacking journalistic standards, but so is the mainstream media. It's certainly naive to believe everything written on some guy's blog

      • Mod parent up.

        The worst part of the NYT scandals is that people do give them more credit than other sources. Judith Miller, oy. The book Hubris goes into some detail explaining just how poor a job she did as a journalist. But you also have to fault the Times for not catching it in the first place. Hell, if a programmer writes bad code, do you blame only him when it makes it into the final product? Where the hell were the testers? There's an entire process in place to review and validate code because mistake
  • It's called RSS. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Gordo_1 ( 256312 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @04:27AM (#19885267)
    RSS helps sites by attracting busy people like me who don't have time to surf a dozen sites to find an interesting article. But at the same time it's killing them, because people like me surgically link in to read an article and then close the tab immediately, never so much as considering looking at other features of their site. (It probably doesn't help that I use adblock and overlay all Flash content with control buttons, but that's beside the point.)

    I skim approximately three mainstream news sources, a handful of blogs and a few independent news sites for RSS headlines that catch my attention. I spend the rest of my online time reading select forums that are mostly inhabited by people who present what I believe to be intelligent/interesting discourse (yes, believe it or not, that *does* include Slashdot from time to time).

    Guess how much time I spend surfing random links and going page to page within a site using their fancy ajax navigation elements? I don't know what the percentage is, but pretty close to zero. 40 page article about Nvidia's latest Geforce gizmo? Skip to conclusion, then go to three of their competitors' sites to see if they concur. There's just too much damn noise and information out there to do it any other way. I use RSS, and a few simple techniques to reduce the web into my own personal CliffsNotes. If I'm representative of any significant segment of the population, then no wonder mainstream news sites are hurting.
    • by Aladrin ( 926209 )
      I blame the 'mainstream news' for their sites failing. This isn't just web-based, but tv and radio as well. For years I've heard people complaining about the degrading usefulness of the news due to it's decreasing truthfulness and content.

      When a random person on the net can provide more interesting and useful information than an entire channel dedicated to that concept, it's no wonder that they are failing.

      On the other hand, there are blogs that have turned into news sites, such as Slashdot. Kotaku clear
  • A real tech magazine (Score:4, Informative)

    by slashbart ( 316113 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @04:48AM (#19885357) Homepage
    Circuit Cellar [] is doing fine, and has been doing fine for decades. It's the low to zero information content magazines that'll go away. Well, good riddance.

    The funny thing is that its founder Steve Ciarcia [] left then market leader Byte Magazine, because it was turning into an advertorial marketing rag. Guess which magazine no longer exists :-)

  • by harmonica ( 29841 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @04:52AM (#19885377)
    I don't think that trend is as strong in other parts of the world as it is in the US. Print media are for the most part losing readers and ad clients, but enterprises are rather conservative when it comes to ads online. Talking about Germany, I think we're at least five years behind. Online ad budgets are negligible compared to what is being done in the US. Unfortunately I don't have the latest number, I'm sure we're catching up.

    Besides, I'd like to stress the importance of printed media. We still have a couple of good magazines and I'd hate to lose them because supposedly one print magazine can be replaced with a dozen mediocre websites. (PC Professionell, certainly one of the better ones, was recently discontinued while crap like Computerbild is doing fine.) It doesn't really matter whether the end product of good journalism is being published on dead wood or online, but good journalism costs money which you can't make online (yet). At least in some parts of the world.
  • I mean, the money has so completely destroyed tech media by turning into basically eternal corporate advertising. Even the little actual tech substance that was left has been rapidly drying up.

    When was the last time you found out something new in a Ziff-Davis magazine? 1982?

    They don't cover beryl and Ubuntu much, so there's nothing there interesting to read. I like blogs and youtube about stuff, though because it's not just advertising it's interesting and relevant.
  • Welcome to the crisis.

    Print and other traditional media are dying. Hell, even the coherent article is dying. Trouble is, What if you like to read material in that format? Plenty of mags have already bit the dust, and many more have been reduced to unreadable pap ("Games for Windows" is nowhere near the calibre of "Computer Gaming World" in 1990). And while some of bigger circulation giants seem to be holding up well, Like "Rolling Stone" and "Playboy" I worry even about their long term viability. At

    • To be honest, I stopped reading computer magazines because of the sort of irrelevant ramblings that often appeared in them. While everyone can write a blog, ultimately only the ones that have any worth will be relevant, just as in printed media. Yes, it will come back to reputation.
      • Personally, I stopped reading computer magazines when I knew for a fact that the articles in areas where I was well-informed were Just Plain Wrong, or at least presenting an over-simplified, naive explanation. How, then, could I trust that I was being properly informed about those subjects I did not already know about?

        Well, that and the fact that by the time the comparison reviews and ad mini-brochures were printed, all the prices were so out-of-date that you might make a completely different decision any

  • This has mystified me for ages. A monthly magazine can be something like three months out of date by the time it's published. It's not the Wireds and Red Herrings of the world that suffer from this so, but Computer World and PC User and such, who have to plan ahead for their reviews and for the component sales ads, who must have to make a prediction on how much they will have to charge in two months for volatile items such as memory. Either that or they are wasting their money on two page adverts which have
  • Just like sushi (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bryan1945 ( 301828 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @05:34AM (#19885483) Journal
    but with more fiber!

    Seriously, though, at what point will ABC/CBS/NBC start running prime time news headlines ripped from /.?

    How many reports/blogs have we seen in the past few years are wildly inaccurate, just wrong, or completely blown out of all proportion? Astroturfing, bought studies, fanboyism.

    I'm guessing that the blogs are so popular:

    1) People go to blogs where they get to read stuff that agrees with their own ideas/attitudes

    2) People don't want to spend time to read anything substantive (ie, RTFA)

    3) Ok, this one is good- narrow focus on a subject that you want to learn about

    4) We shall totally refrain from the topic of political blogs.

    5) Main stream media can be/will be/usually are behind in reporting things that have been mentioned on blogs. Supposedly, main stream media does fact checking, plus camera shots, background, live shots, etc. With a blog, you can pretty much just type anything you want with no reprecussions (with the usual caveats)

    I know that mainstream media is abhorrent now, but at least (again, supposedly) they do some background into seek before splashing the "bad news" over anyones' walls.

  • The article mentions that advertisers are moving from tech news advertising to search keyword advertising.

    I've said it all along; "don't pollute the page with in your face cover the article advertisig" The flashing blinking text covering beeping roaring advertisements are the reason I pulled Flash out of one system by the roots. Now flashblock tames down intrusive advertising. When reading an article on an RIAA court case, I have no intrest in the new Dodge Pickup. It's a wasted advertisement.

    When I am
  • by drozofil ( 1112491 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @06:34AM (#19885685)

    Only tech news is so fragile that it can be conveyed by blogs. For other subjects (international analysis, arts, music, politic), most subjects treated are not really news. It might be for some readers but it's not the point. The editorial policies are what makes the content worth reading. Automatic RSS aggregators poorly replaces editors.

    Personally, I find that even if I can customize to a point the content I get from the net, I got the huge problem of being spectator of what already interests me. I still have the curiosity to look out for new things that could interest me. My bookmarks or my subscribed feeds do a poor job for bringing me new sites (have you noticed how many blogs never change their subject and then die out of exhaustion ?).

    Until there is a GoogleBot ready for handling the way I discover relevant intellectual information, I will need some human piece of advice. That's why journalists always were for I think. That's why they would stay. That started without an audience, I don't think audience is that relevant for journalism.

    I read some comment saying that "paper press is dead". It's not. At least I seriously hope so. The ad-driven papers are suffering, I hope they will suffer more and more. Ad-free media has a price, pay for it if you can! Don't you think that ad-driven news will abuse you again, and again, and again, and again ... until the last drop of ink on earth will have been spent on attempting to make you buy something you didn't even think about before; on feeding you altered news; on conveying lies in the sole purpose of the interest of something or someone or some people that is not you, nor your family, nor your friends or anyone else for that matter ?

    • by Sigma 7 ( 266129 )

      Until there is a GoogleBot ready for handling the way I discover relevant intellectual information, I will need some human piece of advice. That's why journalists always were for I think. That's why they would stay. That started without an audience, I don't think audience is that relevant for journalism

      Actually, there is. Google gives recommendations on which pages you want to visit. It's available from the "Web History" link, which in turn provides an "Interesting items" link. Alternativly, you can add the Interesting items to your Google homepage - in either case, "Free registration required", and it requires you to at least search for information online (or simply view if you have the toolbar installed).

      Stumbleupon [] came earlier, and it does require you to "seed" your general insterests - however, i

  • I haven't read magazines for over a decade except for individual articles pointed to by RSS.
    This was because of three reasons:
    1) Magazines were always late, you read about it somewhere else first;
    2) Magazines don't have the best people. The best people are out there doing it, not reporting about it;
    3) Their advertisers are equal to the subjects of their articles.

    This all combined means I can read on dead tree or C|NET the not-so-critical article about Foo, by someone who has less expert knowledge ab
  • Barely a surprise (Score:3, Insightful)

    by clickclickdrone ( 964164 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @06:57AM (#19885763)
    In the UK PC magazines have been closing in recent years at a fiendish rate although blogs or forums have just sped up something that was already happening.
    Magazines go through cycles. When something new comes out or is changing in popularity, magazines flourish as people try to learn as much as possible about a subject. Then once things get to a point where said item is either so easy to use, you don't need help or becomes so mainstream people just accept the state of the art as is and don't bother investigating further.
    The result is sales fall, ad revenue falls and the market consolidates and we're seeing that now in the IT press.
    Previous victims include HiFi magazines - huge in the 70's and 80's when you could read all about fine tuning turntables, building concrete speaker stands and all that good stuff. Then CD and reasonably OK stuff for cheap came out and suddenly only real HiFi nuts cared - for most people an all-in-one set up was good enough. In the UK HiFi magazines went from a dozen and a half titles to 2 or 3 thin efforts.
    Further back, we were awash with Microwave magazines, freezer magazines and so on. Once people became confortable with the products, they stopped buying them.
    Most editors I've worked with since about 2000 reckoned IT mags in print were dead or about to be and it's surpring they've lasted as long as they have. You want reviews? Why wait a month - get it online the day it comes out. Help? Tutorials? it's all here for free on the web. The only real difference is the quality. Some websites go in to far more detail on a product than a magazine would ever bother but equally, general editorial tends to be better in a magazine where an editor has tidied up bad prose or woolly thinking.
  • Perhaps I'm alone in this, but I think the most basic reason is a lack of interest.

    If I go to the local newstand, I'll see about 10 magazines containing PC-related drivel, 1 magazine containing MacOS related items, and about 4-5 Linux-related publications. Now, I'm a Linux and perhaps even to a degree, a MacOS user, so the PC-related magazines hold no interest, but I doubt I would like them anyway (they're the thickest but also the most content-sparse). None of the magazines except Linux Journal holds any
  • I used to be the geeks geek studying the lowest level material just to get a grasp of the latest and greatest in hardware and software of all kinds. But it's not interesting anymore:

    Most of the gear is commodity gear
    Most of the interesting details are hidden for the sake of competitive advantage

    Point in fact, PC magazine in the early '80's ran an extensively technical article about the mathematics of compression when a team from Georgia Tech announced a breakthrough in the technology. You would never see an
  • by MachineShedFred ( 621896 ) on Tuesday July 17, 2007 @10:23AM (#19887059) Journal
    I'm sorry, but it usually takes readers to sell advertisements. To get the readers, you have to have compelling content. None of these magazines have compelling content.

    When is the last time you picked up ANYTHING from Ziff Davis and wanted to read it? Most of these magazines are filled with either articles that don't tell the whole story, gussied up press releases, six month old tips for the novice, editorials that are just written by FUD spewing morons selling their page to the highest bidder (I'm looking right at you, Mr. Dvorak), or news I read about three weeks ago on Slashdot (four weeks ago from other sources).

    Why the hell do I want to cut down some trees and PAY for that?

    I actually used to have a job for a PR firm that worked exclusively for tech companies. One of my duties was to scan these rags for articles about clients, or about their field of business. In that year, I skimmed pretty much every tech publication that was worth mentioning: PC Week, PC Magazine, Computerworld, Byte, Wired, Red Herring, Dr. Dobb's Journal, PC World, CRM, etc. Not a single one can keep up in print, with the pace of the tech sector today. They barely could 10 years ago when the web was new. Now, they are relegated to informing people that only have a passing interest in technology, because all the people that are actively engaged already know.

    I can't imagine why the advertisers are leaving.
  • The exodus away from tech rags that offer little more than glossed over advertising as content is not suprising, but it does kind of serve to illustrate a conundrum of advertising: If your ads are too subtle and too well targetted, your market readership falls off because they can no longer distinguish ads from information. But if your ads are not well targetted and obvious, your drive away your readership because they find them annoying and irrelevant.

    How best to walk this fine line? Comments?

"The way of the world is to praise dead saints and prosecute live ones." -- Nathaniel Howe