Earlier this week, The New York Times published an intriguing story entitled “It’s a Site for the Truly Geeky, And It Even Makes a Few Bucks” by John Schwartz on the front page of its Business section. (October 14)
The writer makes several points.
- Magazines devoted to technology have had a tough time remaining in business and this trend is continuing.
- Web sites like Slashdot that are focused on technology can survive in tough times for a variety of reasons including lower distribution costs.
While I agree with the writer on these points, I object to his lack of objectivity and a tone reminiscent of everything that was wrong with financial journalism’s views on the Internet during the so-called “dot-com bubble.” If I didn’t know the date, I would have thought the article was written in late 1999 or early 2000.
A close reading of the article reveals that Slashdot, in fact, does not make money. Any assertion that it does make money only comes from “creative” bookkeeping. Slashdot appeals to the writer because the Web site is cool and quirky. It has several million devout readers but the fact is it makes no money and has never been profitable.
This type of reporting is precisely what was wrong with most of the reporting by the world’s financial press during the period 1996-2000. Similarly, Wall Street analysts and bankers helped push the bubble with their own shoddy analyses of companies that were rushed to the public markets.
Slashdot provides a value to its readers and the technology community. But reporters should avoid returning to the type of fluff we saw during the bubble. What we need is hard-hitting analysis of the Internet industry and its many segments as we move into the third year of a new millennium.
Alan Meckler is Chairman and Chief Executive of Jupitermedia Corp. His column will appear monthly on InternetNews.com.