Business Insider’s Henry Blodget is Wrong: Here’s Why

Joe Weisenthal regularly works 16-hour days without restto the point that his own bosses worry publicly about him burning out and force him to take vacations, his wife needs to tweet him when she really wants his attention, and he occasionally lapses into a catatonic stupor in which he doesn’t do anything for an entire day but watch TV.  He regularly publishes content that is “wrong or incomplete or misleading” and full of “air and sugar” (which I take to mean insignificant).  He publishes this content on a headline-driven site when he himself says the stock market is not headline-driven.  And he races to submit roughly 15 blog posts a day, rarely writing anything above a few hundred words, and hardly ever talking to sources on the phone to verify information or gather context.

The New York Times reported all this two weeks ago in a profile on Weisenthal.  In a post over the weekend, I had the good sense to raise the question: Is any of this any good?

Henry Blodget apparently thinks it’s great– and will attempt to bully anyone who doth question it.  The Business Insider co-founder and CEO wrote what someone just joked to me is the longest post ever published by the online outlet.  In it, he attacks me for having the gall to confirm that I don’t want my own students to live the life Weisenthal is described enduring or to produce inaccurate, rush-job, “air and sugar” journalism.  That’s right, he attacked me, NOT the New York Times, which confirmed all this in its profile of Weisenthal.

Mr. Blodget, your own brass is cited by the Times expressing concerns about Weisenthal’s insane work habits.  Any medical doctor worth his license would concur that pushing yourself to the point that your brain and body periodically break down and you basically stop functioning is not good for you.  And any half-decent journalism ethicist would agree that being “wrong or incomplete or misleading” does not pave the way to a Pulitzer.

But hey, if that’s what you demand of your employees– to the point that you criticize anyone who questions it– that’s on you.  Just please, for everyone’s sake, stop falling back on the digital vs. old school journalism trope, which you roll out seemingly right on cue in your hit piece this morning.  Apparently, because I hold up acclaimed former Times foreign correspondent Anthony Shadid as a journalistic role model instead of Weisenthal, I am of course a professor who doesn’t get it, stuck in the past, watching old clips of Walter Cronkite, and wandering the streets of New Orleans with Times-Picayune ink stains on my non-texting fingers.

Journalism is changing.  Yes, the old school can do it better.  But so can you.  If you want to hold up your site as a model for quality journalism and the type of nonstop hell you apparently put your best employee through as the inevitable future work shift, that’s on you.  That doesn’t mean we all have to agree with it.

And for the record, since you mentioned it, I don’t just “describe myself” as a college journalism scholar.  I am one.  What do you call yourself?  Today, I’d say it’s a bully, and yes, someone who doesn’t get it.

2 Responses to “Business Insider’s Henry Blodget is Wrong: Here’s Why”
  1. Nasty! We are irritated aren’t we? :) But I agree.

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