I like TechCrunch, it writes interesting blog posts about stuff I care about. But it's a great example of how blogging is not journalism.

TechCrunch has a strange habit of blogging things where the only source is off the record. Ie, from today's Valleywaggish story about a manufactured MySpace scandal.

How old is he really? We first heard 40. We dug a little online and came up with nothing. But then we got a senior person at MySpace to talk to us about it off record at the Web 2.0 Summit last week: this person confirmed that he's really "36 or 37" and that MySpace has been trying to keep this quiet for some time.
Or a few weeks ago, about Google and Facebook
Notwithstanding that NDA, we've now spoken with three of the attendees off record to get an understanding of what Google is planning. Google's goal — to fight Facebook by being even more open than the Facebook Platform.

Anyone talking to media knows that telling a journalist something "off the record" means you're telling them so they know it. It's not going to stay secret. But it also clearly means that the comments aren't to be used a primary source. The point of "off the record" is to steer a journalist the right way so they can dig in deeper and get the real story from a real source, on the record. TechCrunch, though, just reports stuff "off the record" directly. Remember that next time you're being chummy at a party with Arrington.

Blogs are great for discussing current events, particularly shades and nuance from multiple angles. And I like juicy rumour sites. But real journalism has a strong code of ethics, a responsibility to source reports, and careful editorial review. TechCrunch isn't even trying to do that.

  2007-10-23 16:45 Z