Topolsky Bites Back ⇒

Joshua Topolsky, Editor-in-Chief of The Verge, responding to the aforelinked criticism of his site:

…Just as I felt compelled to respond to Michael Arrington when he attacked the work I (and my team) did at Engadget, I am now responding to Marco Arment, John Gruber, and anyone else who sets up a minimal Wordpress blog and thinks that the ability to publish text onto the internet gives them insight into what journalism is or what I do for a living.

First of all, Joshua, what the hell? Didn’t you read my post? I don’t have a minimal Wordpress blog1 so…we’re cool?

I get Topolsky’s knee-jerk reaction in publishing this post, though for the life of me I don’t understand why he took to his personal blog and not The Verge’s forums, let alone publishing an editorial comment on Verge proper.2 He has been hurt by two of the tech community’s heaviest hitters, so he’s upset or trying to rally his troops or whatever.

But let’s enter Topolsky’s universe for a second.

Without going down a rabbit hole of he-said she-said, Marco and Gruber are just basically wrong. We of course mention this kind of thing all the time in our writing. Like here, and here, for instance — in reviews especially, where that kind of critique is actually useful. Here’s our senior editor Paul Miller talking about it in 2009. You guys getting this over there? Welcome to three years ago.

Ever since I published my explanation of why I’m done with The Verge and read reactions from others, I’ve been trying to understand what it is that makes Topolsky’s site what it is. This paragraph gets to the heart of why I think people like Arment, Gruber, Ben Brooks and myself have so much trouble reading them.

Here goes: The Verge, it seems, is primarily aimed at people who read The Verge. You think they don’t mention Apple? They did! Two months ago! Eight months ago too! Listen to The Vergecast. Read the rest of the site. Everything is there.

Take the case of Bryan Bishop’s missing disclosure of his relationship to Rian Johnson, the director of Looper, in his review of that film.3 That he should add the disclosure was pointed out by a reader named “slipslip” who also read Bishop’s interview with director Rian Johnson. To which I said:

On what planet is disclosure a suggestion?

On planet Verge.

I’m not being funny here. Rather I think this mindset is endemic to what Topolsky and company have built.

In Bishop’s mind and the minds of every Verge employee, I’ll bet, the disclosure wasn’t necessary because readers could do the footwork themselves, as reader “slipslip” did, and figure out that Johnson went to school with Bishop. From their point of view, they never obfuscated their relationship; it’s right there on another page. Don’t you read The Verge?

I don’t. Not anymore.

  1. Neither do Gruber or Arment, for that matter. Not the point, but, Josh, if you want to be that patronizing can’t I play too? Do you know how much of a dick that makes you sound? “Your opinion is invalid because you’re not me” is not a defense. ↩︎

  2. It really is tough keeping up with how many versions of The Verge there are. ↩︎

  3. I cover this in greater detail in my post from last week. ↩︎