The World You Created
The main thing that’s been exciting Twitter/Blogland for the past 24 hours has been this whole SXSW Zuckerberg/Lacy thing and pretty much everyone except Jemima Kiss is tearing Sarah Lacy to shreds. Everyone’s been saying that she was ‘flirty’ and acted like a ‘bimbo’ and that she gave girls in tech a bad name.
I’ve only seen the cut down interview, so clearly missed the feeling in the room over the course of an hour, but I have to say that I didn’t find her particularly annoying at all. Sure, perhaps she misjudged what the audience wanted, but all I really saw was that she was trying to have a relaxed conversational interview with someone… and that someone was monosyllabic and uncharismatic. The one thing I’ve realised over the years is that, when it comes to interviewing, it takes two to tango. When an interview goes badly, the interviewee is as much at fault as the interviewer (anyone remember Christopher Lloyd and Anne Bancroft on Wogan?).
So why go after Sarah Lacy?
Well, I wonder if it has to do with her gender? When you Google Sarah Lacy, the second result is a Valley Wag piece on her entitled “Smoking Sarah Lacy”: “… there’s one salient fact about Sarah Lacy that most commentators are way too politically correct to mention: she is the hottest reporter in the Valley. No, make that the hottest reporter in the tech world – ever.” The hottest reporter in the tech world. Hmmmm. Not the smartest? The best writer? So, her value is in her ‘cuteness’? Am I getting that right?
Have a look at the results for Mark Zuckerberg – do you notice how there’s nothing about his gender nor his sexual attractiveness (or lack thereof) nor is there a photo of him sticking out any of his ‘sexually alluring’ body parts? Interesting that. Well, it isn’t really interesting. That’s just how things are.
Now, as any titted geek knows, gender is still a big deal, even in this world without bodies. If it had been a man interviewing Zuckerberg, I’m 100% positive we wouldn’t have heard a thing about it other than, perhaps, ‘Zuckerberg’s a bit boring, isn’t he?’ As it is, I think Sarah has been criticised for being, well, female.
Jeff Jarvis has a good, non-sexist take on it:”At the end of it all, I have no doubt that Lacy is an experienced and talented journalist, that she respects Zuckerberg, that she was trying to put him at ease, and that she was going after the stories she found interesting. But that’s the essence of her problem: She didn’t stand back and remind herself that her job was to enable a conversation not with her but with the crowd about what they found interesting.”
This is more like it, someone who understands what they are talking about who can think clearly without resorting to lowest common denominator thinking. I find it interesting that he and Jemima are both professional journalists and are the only ones who have an informed and level-headed take on it. In the end, it just seems like Sarah Lacy’s interviewing technique, which may work very well in an extended interview for a magazine, just wasn’t the right thing to do on the day for that Facebook fanboy audience. Not the end of the world.
Far, far too many bloggers- male and female, A-list and down- have no freakin’ idea what ‘journalism’ actually means (I promise I won’t go off on one now about the supposedly important podcaster who told me that he doesn’t care about facts or fact checking). Nor do they seem to understand that just because someone can write in a newspaper, magazine or blog it doesn’t mean that they will automatically be a good interviewer in front of an audience, camera or mobile phone (resisting the urge to clear my throat knowingly). Citizen journalism has gone from being the Great New Media Hope to being a bunch of dumb loudmouths yapping and waving their cocks around (yes, boys, I mean you). When the mob rules, this is what you get: unfocused, ill-informed, biased sniping by huge numbers of people who actually think their opinion should mean something more than anyone else’s.
Is this the brave new world we’ve created?