Last week BusinessInsider editor in chief Henry Blodget wrote a Twitter Manifesto, or Tweetifesto as he called it, about his position on investigative journalism that can best be summarized like this: Blodget likes hard journalism but it’s not profitable enough. It’s been 9 days so most have missed or forgotten the 30 tweets (below) comprising this media-titan-in-the-making manifesto. But they’re worth revisiting for three reasons:
First, Blodget’s tweets are the latest evidence that journalism is forever redefined by blogging, Tweeting and whatever’s next. Shorter, Faster, Punchier is the model that made Arianna Huffington the first bona fide blogging mogul, and while she uses political content to anchor HuffingtonPost, Blodget’s one year old BusinessInsider is the first to do it right for business and technology content. It’s not about being best … for now. It’s about grabbing a massive audience by being first. Then scale with investigative reporting later if they choose—and if it’s profitable.
Second, Besides what’s noted in his tweets below, Blodget already has a profit plan for for investigative reporting: it’s called TBI Research, a division of the BusinessInsider that’s modeled after technology industry research firms like Gartner and Forrester. But they already have a CFA on board to do financial analysis plus Blodget himself, former head of Merrill’s internet analysis. So he can do mass appeal headlines (like ’10 Real Online Startups Founded By Real Offline Celebrities’) and shallow topics (like the hotness of CNBC’s anchors) on the free main site, and do harder research pieces on the subscriber-based TBI Research site.
Third, it might just be Blodget’s time. In 2003, he became poster boy for the internet bust when he was banned from the securities industry after being accused of writing favorable sell-side research reports on companies he didn’t actually favor so Merrill could get their investment banking business. He went down hard for it, and I (like many) took my turn hating on him back then when I was a buy-side marketer at UBS defending the integrity of our research versus that of the sell-side lapdogs. But now he’s reinvented himself as an institutional-level blogger and also engineered his way around his Wall Street ban with TBI Research. And today when I Googled ‘Blodget mogul’ to check the originality of my headline, the first search result was a BusinessInsider story by Blodget called How To Become A Media Mogul.
So I’m sold. The dude’s a badass. You can judge for yourself now with his Tweetifesto below. Or later when you can’t stop hearing his name.
All right, look, here’s the truth about this investigative reporting thing…
5:12 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
Everyone says they want more of it. No more aggregation, please. No more links. No more slideshows. No more picture of Erin Burnett.
5:13 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
Just more good old shoe-leather reporting, like they did in the good old days.
5:14 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
And so we do it!
5:14 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
A good old fashioned shoe-leather investigation. On and off for two years. Wheedling, Cajoling. Secret meetings. Documents. Hush hush.
5:16 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
And we find out some cool stuff! Not Pentagon Papers or Watergate, mind you. But good, secret stuff about the founding of Facebook
5:18 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
And then we have to chat with lawyers: What happens if Facebook sues our asses off? Will we get tossed in Big House for protecting sources?
5:20 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
And then the fact-checking. And the “hey, guys, sorry, we’ve got this story you’re not going to like” call with Facebook. (First of many)
5:21 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
And we have to write and edit the darn thing, which takes, literally, all night (I sh** you not)
5:22 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
And we have to make sure it’s correct and fair, because who doesn’t want to be fair? I mean, these are just people. And who’s perfect?
5:24 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
And because we don’t have some massive staff of 8 editors per writer or something (no wonder NYT going bust), this is a tag team effort
5:26 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
–Okay, sorry, break in the Tweet-essay. I have to do some TechTicker vids after more Americans get fired Back soon–
5:27 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
Okay, back to the Tweet-essay after another crappy jobs report. (No disaster, but sure as hell no recovery. People still getting axe)
5:48 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
So, anyway, we do the investigative reporting thing. And we produce a good story! Interesting, fair, fun (IMHO). Breaks new ground. Etc.
5:50 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
And people like it! (Except for one guy, who says he’d rather watch ice melt than read about Mark Zuckerberg). Kudos. Sense of pride.
5:51 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
And of course we’d love to do three of these a day — figure out all the bad sh** in the world, get it out there, help people know beans
5:53 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
But the truth is, if we tried to do 3 a day, with our staff, we would DROP DEAD. We’d also go bust. Neither being a happy outcome.
5:55 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
So that means…
5:55 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
We’re going to try to give you one of these once in a while. You like reading ’em. And we like making ’em. So it’s smiles all around.
5:56 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
5:57 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
We’re ALSO going to keep giving you the great stuff that OTHER sites are doing (hopefully with some helpful commentary attached).
5:59 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
And we’re going to give you house porn, and features, and pictures of Erin Burnett. Because, truth be told, you GROOVE on that sh*t!
6:00 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
(And so do we, by the way–we’ve taken our fearless moral inventory, and we’re ready to admit it)
6:01 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
And because, thanks to the Internet, there are THOUSANDS of smart people publishing great stuff. And it would be SILLY not to link to it.
6:03 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
So that’s the truth about investigative journalism. It’s important. It’s great. But it is also fantastically expensive and time-consuming
6:05 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
So we’re going to do some, and share more. And we hope you’ll understand that.
6:06 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
Now go read Nick Carlson’s excellent piece on the secret never-before-published behind the scenes origin of Facebook!
6:07 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
(As well as how Mark used F’book data to hack into Harvard Crimson editors’ emails — which seemed a step beyond the usual knuckleheadness)
6:10 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
Thus endeth this morning’s Tweetifesto. Thanks for listening!
6:11 AM Mar 5th via TweetDeck
And here’s the URL for Facebook origins story in the Tweetifesto.
6:30 AM Mar 5th via web