Forbes Goes After Bloggers in Cover Article

Forbes: Attack of the BlogsIn a move drawing much scorn within the blogosphere (led by ultra popular sites like BoingBoing and Instapundit), Forbes magazine’s cover story next week is “Attack of the Blogs,” a venomous article by writer Daniel Lyons — a figure already despised by many within the Linux community for his advocacy of SCO intellectual property lawsuits.

What will generate such contempt? Well, certainly such blanket generalizations as “Web logs are the prized platform of an online lynch mob spouting liberty but spewing lies, libel and invective” won’t garner much accolades from bloggers. The premise of Lyons’ argument is taking small examples of bad behavior bloggers (a pump-and-dump scammer who is now under indictment for the same crime from 2000) and skewering what many consider good blogging and fact-checking (“Microsoft has been hammered by bloggers; so have CBS, CNN and ABC News, two research boutiques that criticized IBM’s Notes software, the maker of Kryptonite bike locks, a Virginia congressman outed as a homosexual and dozens of other victims”).

But what is sure to raise the ire of many bloggers are some of the dastardly solutions to negative blog coverage: astroturfing (paying other bloggers to support your viewpoint in the blogosphere); mudslinging (digging up dirt on the blogger attacking your company to discredit them); censorship (find any possible copyrighted item on the blogger’s website and call their hosting company to snitch); suing for defamation (if all else fails, just destroy the blogger with your multi-million dollar team of lawyers).

Now, unfortunately, the article fails to give even a cursory look at the good things the blogosphere promotes when it comes to businesses. Like when Savvis CEO Rob McCormick frivolously blew $241,000 at a strip club (he’s been sent on unpaid leave), or when Dell’s customer service causes one blogger to coin the term Dell Hell (and Dell’s subsequent failure to adequately respond drew the criticism of Business Week), or the various political bloggers who demanded spending cuts after Rep. DeLay declared ‘victory‘ in the war on budget fat (a project called Porkbusters was born).

And there’s hundred of similar, good tales for every negative tale about a scammer. Unfortunately, Lyons misses the big picture, that the blogosphere is a community of millions of people who are just as good or bad as the people we meet in real life. Fortunately for us, his doom and gloom outlook isn’t quite as dire as he makes it out to be. But unfortunately, we have to wonder how many businesses will now take his advice and use his guide to counter-attack all criticism, legitimate or not.

Update: VodkaPundit posts an insightful email from one of his readers:

The article’s really quite astonishing. You know, after reading [Gillmor’s post] and the accompanying comments, it occurred to me that one reason blogs are viewed as dangerous is that they serve as means to the (at least ostensible) ends of both liberals and conservatives. Those ends are definitely not always the same, and they come from different motivations, but if liberals want “freedom of information” and conservatives want the “marketplace of ideas,” those are both at least neighboring territories, and blogs go a little ways toward making them more of a reality. Corporations, big media, the government–any entrenched power–can’t help but be nervous, and will eventually seek ways to fight them.

  1. You write >

    Daniel Lyons has not been a writer in a long long time, neither has he been a journalist in a long time, if ever. We all just wish his boss would figure that out…

  2. well, i live in australia and i am usually a big fan of forbes. its disappointing that they would give so much exposure (front cover) to such a biased negative story. i thought steve forbes would “get it”. blogs are here to stay “steve” wether forbes likes it or not. the new york times is obviously a visionary organisation and should be commended for its ability to embrace & understand new global trends.

  3. I think most people know Lyons as a lightweight troll who writes these screeds purely for attention regardless of how lacking in journalistic (or any other) integrity the final piece is. O’Gara is a failed stalker and most likely mentally unbalanced, judging from her utterly amoral and, to put it bluntly, obsessive behavior regarding the identity of Pamela Jones.

    The identity of Pamela Jones is quite irrelevant to the facts and ideas she puts on her blog. And with O’Gara and people like her running around loose, she can be forgiven if she isn’t willing to make things easier for the unbalanced stalkers of the world.

  4. Friday, October 28, 2005 –

    Senator Edward Kennedy will attach his hate crimes bill, S.1145 onto the Sex Offenders Registration Act, according to the office of Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

    The bill passed the Senate 65 to 33 in 2002 but was stripped in conference. The Judiciary Committee defeated the bill last Thursday. FMNN has reported that the bill is part of a larger package of measures aimed not so much at those who are in some sense “racist” but at the alternative press itself which already has been targeted by the Bush State Dept.

    The Hate Crimes bill, the State Dept. initiative and press Shield bill announced by Senator Richard Lugar create a formidable package of weaponary for legislators seeking to attack and weaken the alternative Internet press. This initiative is solidly backed by the mainstream media which has not sought to cover it with any level of analytical certainty but has instead reported on the package as a series of discreet and unlinked items.

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