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Putting All Of This “Fanboy/Fangirl” Nonsense To Rest Once And For All

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There’s an interesting thing that happens in the technology press world, and probably throughout all of journalism land. It’s weird, and it’s become quite annoying to me. Basically, whenever someone writes something positive about a company, be it a product release or software update, the general public tends to jump to a conclusion quickly — that the person writing the story is either a fanboy/fangirl of the company, or is in the “pocket” of the PR team at said company.

It’s obnoxious. The sad part about it is that this behavior of simple-mindedness is starting to cross over into the journalism ecosystem itself. Other journalists at other publications are starting to call out people for “drinking Kool-aid” or being an “apologist.”

Even though this is very annoying and counterproductive, the sadder part is that it’s so far from the truth that it’s not even funny. For whatever reason, whether you agree with it or not, we are paid to write about technology. For the most part, we call it like we see it. At least I know I do, and can’t speak for others. Oh, and we don’t get paid by companies to write things. Ever. We’re not stupid.

My experience in Silicon Valley is a bit different than other journalists’ experiences because I’ve actually worked at startups and have had a few of my own projects. I know how all of this works, and trust me, it’s work. Launching something, reaching out to the press and supporting your users is tireless work, but that’s what we get paid to do at startups.

For journalists? We’re people too. We like certain products and companies. We get called out for having a bias toward something. Well, duh. We’re human and we like what we like and we don’t like what we don’t like. It’s life and more importantly, it’s completely healthy.

Example time

So if you’re oblivious to all of this and don’t know what I’m talking about, I’ll give you a few examples. The best one that I can think of is any journalist that covers Apple heavily. Some journalists get called out for being in their “back pocket.” Not only is that not true, but it’s quite hurtful and questions our integrity. Should we fight back? No. Sometimes we have to, though.

Another example is a journalist at a publication that covers Facebook heavily. It’s their beat, they are very interested in what Facebook is up to. Sometimes, when the company screws up, they call them out on it. Like a journalist should. But sometimes, they get really excited to tell you, the readers, that Facebook has done something quite awesome and revolutionary. As they should.

In my experience, I get called out repeatedly for covering a company that isn’t Apple. For what reason? I have no idea, other than they’re not “sexy enough” in Silicon Valley. The heart of the matter is that all of these companies are made up of people who work very hard to create things that change your lives and in some cases, change the world.

It’s really awesome and inspiring stuff. What’s even awesomer is that we have the job to tell you all about it.

Don’t get me wrong

I love commenters and readers, so don’t get me wrong here. I love feedback and criticism. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. That’s why the world and the Internet are great. However, lay off on attacking integrity unless you have evidence that this is really the case.

I’m not afraid to tell you that this is annoying or obnoxious, because I have no shits to give. I will not apologize for enjoying things that a company does and thus enjoying telling you about it. You can hate it. I hope that people do sometimes, because if you agree with one person all of the time, something is very wrong.

I’m a fan of Apple products, but I hate iOS 6 Maps and have said as much. I don’t like everything that Google does. In fact, some of their moves baffle me, but some of them are quite fantastic. It’s life.

Having said all of this, I just wanted to level with folks on how this all really works. We’re all very lucky to be able to find information quickly and read great publications for free. We don’t have to like what we read. We don’t have to like who wrote it. We don’t have to like who it is about. But you do have to know that we’re all people.

Just because we’re behind a computer doesn’t mean we get a free pass to be an ass. Rock on and feel free to bash me in the comments.