Thomas Crampton

Social Media in China and across Asia

Erick Schonfeld: How to TechCrunch

Jul 30, 2008

Erick Schonfeld, TechCrunch co-editor, last week explained to me how TechCrunch works, in a mere six minutes.

Formerly a magazine writer for Fortune and Business 2.0, Erick embraced blogs highly successfully (especially for a traditional media guy).

Founded by uber-blogger and valley personality Michael Arrington, TechCrunch is the most popular tech blog and probably the most linked-to blog on the Internet.

Summary below (not verbatim) and Video here and after the jump.

For tips from other uber-bloggers I have interviewed, be sure to check out my videos/postings with Cory Doctorow of Boing Boing and Robert Scoble of FastCompanyTV.

How do you run a successful blog?

Show up every day – actually every hour now – to post often, post new and post interesting.

The blog world has actually become a lot more competitive in the last year or so, so you need to give new information or give an original point of view that takes things one step further in terms of analysis. Blogging combines opinion writing and reporting.

How is TechCrunch different from magazine writing at Fortune or Business 2.0?

For one thing, I don’t get any sleep now.

I used to write stories that were 4,000 words or more that I reported by talking to 50 people or more. This gave me a complete story, a definitive tale.

Blogging, however, takes place one thought at a time. Each post is not a complete story. A series of posts will build on each other and those reading actually become sources to round out the story. You learn from readers who leave comments and contact you. The “truth” comes out of this evolution. You do not try to discover some “truth” and then package it all together and present it to the audience.

You feed readers snack food?

No, not snack food. We give our readers nutritious morsels, not junk food. We just use a different way of reporting to get the full story.

Many people don’t understand this – even our readers – and they sometimes take us to task for not being as authoritative as, say, The Wall Street Journal. Sometimes we are as authoritative as The Wall Street Journal, but sometimes we have an opinion or idea that we want to get out there. Sometimes we have a rumor that we think is pretty good and worth talking about.

The barrier for posting is not that it has been fully verified as true, the barrier is whether it is an idea worth talking about. It could be true, it could be untrue and we’ll make it clear how confident we are, but a blog is a different animal from a newspaper or magazine. We are still experimenting with blogging and how it works.

Could there ever be a TechCrunch Magazine?

A magazine based on a blog would probably be made up of little news morsels and longer opinion pieces. That might be an interesting magazine, but by the time it arrived in your mailbox, it would be too dated.

Does blogging requires knowledge on a topic since you riff off the news, rather than report?

No, that is not true. You get many viewpoints off, but at a different time in a different way.

I don’t necessarily collect all 50 interviews before I write a blog posting. I might talk to five people who tell me enough to write a posting. That posting will then get 100 comments, including 20 people whom I should have interviewed. Those who comment are CEOs and authorities in the field, so they add their perspective to the post.

Sometimes I create a whole new post based on their comments.

Because you depend so much on your own knowledge while blogging, it might be difficult to be a “General Assignment Blogger”.

I don’t agree.

We cover so many different companies, from Google to Amazon to newly launched start-ups, that it is hard to have the specialist knowledge. I often don’t know a lot about the companies that I am blogging about, but certainly I do have greater strength when writing about companies about which I am knowledgeable.

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Erick Schonfeld

Erick Schonfeld
About: Erick Schonfeld co-edits TechCrunch, the most popular technology blog and one of the most linked-to blogs on the Internet. Schonfeld has covered start... [Learn more]

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View Comments for “Erick Schonfeld: How to TechCrunch”

  • Daniel E. Caminoa Lizarralde

    Dear Erick,

    Is your father Manfred Schonfeld? If so, you commented, I have a great memory
    him, when he was in the "Prensa" of Buenos Aires.

    Greetings, Daniel

  • Ray

    I love reading techcrunch! It's my daily doze. Thanks for this great piece of article, Tom. :)

    Ray

  • Erick,

    This was an excellent piece and a great way for new bloggers to understand their role and importance in the publishing arena.

    Thanks for sharing that windom.

    Miss Gisele B.

  • Not bad , I just think this all is general at least to me.

    Eric is good writer tho, hope Michael is not going to be offended when I say Eric is more realistic and believing person who writes for TechCrunch then M.A

  • Sorry for spelling your name wrong Erick.

  • Thanks Eric,
    for sharing your knowledge with me. I don't know if I am going to be able to keep up with you. I know I can't because I won't loose sleep posting. But you did shad some light on how I should blog.

    Thanks Again
    Darlene

  • When I read statements like the one Erick made, I remember how I used to laugh at newspaper journalists for complaining about how damaging blogs are to their industry. Thinking about it now, I can understand where they were coming from. Blogging has made things a bit too easy to be perceived as an expert in practically anything. I think it is similar to how movies have ruined great literature. As much as I love the independent web I have to wonder at the job it has done at pushing out the true professionals and experts; pushing aside the rule of ‘truth’ in media. Blogs are a ‘new media’, a unregulated media. Many bloggers are going to take these words from an ubberly successful problogger like Erick, and just say anything ‘worth talking about’, truth be damned, as long as it gets readers coming to their blogs.

    In short:

    "We are still experimenting with blogging and how it works"

    … no one should not be experimenting with truth.

  • this is more about problogging rather than the potential arrington-based insider gossip that lured me here!

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