On Journalistic Approach and Credibility to Anon Comments [A Reply]

Alok Mittal (of Canaan Partners), in a post on Venturewoods talks about journalistic overreach of media/bloggers and cited Pluggd.in’s coverage of their recent funding deal, Naaptol.

I want to take this opportunity to straighten things out, especially since Alok has started the ‘I said, you said’ conversation on his site.

“At NextBigWhat.com, there were several revisions of the story, and I think most of them misquoted me, including the last one of my having denied the investment altogether. I consider this as deliberate falsification of information on part of the author – my credibility is important for me, and I am reproducing my response to Ashish in toto – as the readers will notice, I had refrained from denying or confirming specifically the news of an investment being made. There was also no express refutation of the numbers reported by ET”

This is how we edited the posts.

First of all, we clearly cited the original news source, i.e. ET (which is BCCL company, that had stake in Naaptol and that’s why they probably were the first ones to report the news item) and clearly said that

“As far as the funding is concerned, I just had a word with Alok Mittal and he mentioned that the numbers aren’t correct at all.”

Second Update was “It seems the news itself isnt correct, as per my conversation with Alok.”.

To put things in right context, here are the timelines of my conversation with Alok:

[After ET report, I contacted Alok] Aug 6th , 8:14 AM : Alok said

“Nothing to share right now Ashish. The ET report is factually incorrect – journalistic over reach!”

We published the report with a note that the numbers might be incorrect (as it was quite a surprise that ET report had the actual details of funding amount).

9:08 AM : Alok (after we published the post)

No offence taken – just that you guys are reporting incorrect stuff!

[Ashish’s Reply], 9:43 AM

We covered it for the contextual perspective (the fact that a lot of entrepreneurs expects us to share latest updates on funding etc) and a note that data need not be correct.

10:38 AM

As I said, no issues from my end, Its not just the data, the news itself might be incorrect.

Alok clearly says that the news might itself be incorrect and that’s when we updated the post.

“It seems the news itself isnt correct, as per my conversation with Alok.”.

Note the word ‘seems’ – we reworded what Alok said keeping the same context.

What’s wrong here? Alok says that the news might be incorrect (and not just data, which we assumed earlier as VCs aren’t comfortable talking investment numbers).

Journalistic Overreach? Really?

To share some perspective on our journalistic apprach, here is a tale of one of Cannan’s investment, Techtribe.

Techtribe was shut down early of 2009. We were in the knowledge of the same as early as July/August of 2008.

I asked Alok (on 22nd August) and he denied the report (and we had confirmation that the startup was about to get shut down).

After Alok denied, I decided not to publish the news. We are in no business to hurt startups and we finally published the news on December 26th, 2008.

Why wait for ~4 months when you have a breaking news? Any other blogger (worth backlinks/retweets) would have done that.

We published only when everybody in the market was talking about Techtribe and it was pretty much a known news. We stay away from talking about such stories, as it hurts the motivation of other entrepreneurs (after all, seeing a well funded startup shutting down isn’t a great motivational connect).

We are not in business of sensationalism, but if a news is factually correct, its our responsibility to report that. We understand our promise towards the entrepreneurial community and thanks, but need no thanks on the overreach part,. If there was an overreach, it was from ET’s team and Alok forgot to (clearly) mention that in his post.

That’s all about our journalistic approach  – Alok has taken the entire episode very personally and it hurts to see this.

Of Anon Comments

As far as Alok’s comment regarding anon comments are concerned, I,e,

Some of the earlier misreports, perhaps especially the one at NextBigWhat.com drew stark reactions from people questioning whether this was responsible journalism.

Stark reactions from anonymous cowards? Wow! Credibility to anon comments? Unless I know them personally, I would refrain from giving a cent of credibility to anonymous cowards.

Aside, please do not get me started on who is leaving anon comments here (and not on these posts, but on several funding related articles). If I dig the hornet’s nest (even anon commentors leave footprints on the web), a lot of respectable names will come out.

As far as giving credibility to these anonymous coward comments are concerned, read our take in this article – How to Handle Trolls on Your Website? Few Tips.

The End.

[Anon comments will be deleted Smile.]

Update 1: Looks like Alok has deleted his post at Venturewoods. As of August 19th (17:44 PM), we were getting 404 error.

Update 2: The post is back now.

Note from Ashish: This was clearly a case of mis-communication- both Alok & I converge on it. For sensibility sake, no further comments will be accepted in this article. Back to business, please.

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