Monday, November 23, 2009
TechCrunch beats FT to the punch?

Popular tech news site TechCrunch took a swing at the Financial Times today, claiming it scooped a Microsoft / News Corp agreement days before the paper 'revealed' the deal.

"Congratulations to the Financial Times. It’s taken them 10 days and three reporters to confirm our previous story," says the post by TechCrunch's European editor, Mike Butcher. It also adds: "The FT has no other new information that hasn’t been previously reported."

Why is this post particularly interesting? Certainly not because of TechCrunch's baiting of the traditional news outlets and processes. (It does that regularly and seems to thrive on drama - even resulting in its US-based founder saying that he will ignore all news embargoes.

The key takeaway from this cleverly-written attack is that the deal itself would form the basis of News Corp de-indexing its news articles from Google, making them exclusive to Microsoft's search engine, Bing, as premium content.

This, argues TechCrunch, will see the world of news split into two - 'slow news', churned out by big publishing houses and released at a controlled rate, and sites like its own, which rely on speed. The very deal they are reporting on appears - quite conveniently - to be a prime example of this polarisation already happening.

With the established publishing houses re-evaluating their distribution models and the world of news continuing to accelerate and fragment, TechCrunch is throwing down the gauntlet. While the FT wins on trust, analysis and impartiality against gossipy, unpredictable sites like TechCrunch, the uneasy balance of power might not last for long.

All TechCrunch needs to do is temper that gung-ho approach to journalism to bring it on to the right side of trustworthy. All the traditional news outlets need to do is work out how to deliver content more quickly using a viable online model that doesn't put them out of business...