Is TechCrunch Going Down Hill?

I know you’re not supposed to pick fights with industry gorillas like TechCrunch but I’ve been reading the blog more and more since dedicating time to this blog. One thing I can’t help but notice is that despite the blog’s popularity the quality of writing just isn’t there these days.

Most of the stuff on TechCrunch these days consist of rehashed press releases, breaking news (thanks to the industry connections), half-baked articles, and guest/staff writers. The original writing from Michael Arrington is getting real bad.

Here are some examples.

A new site called Spotplex launched today that arguably sorts news in a better way than Digg does. I’ve been testing the service for the last couple of weeks and like what I’ve seen.

Exclusive: Is Spotplex a Better Digg?

In this post he compares Spotplex.com favorably to Digg. The fact is Spotplex just aggregates traffic stats for popular blogs and ranks them by traffic. There’s no user intervention.

You can read a decent article about this at FranticIndustries.

In another article Mike tears apart Netscape.com and sure they’re fair game but why titles like MyNetscape to Launch Today: More Ajaxy Muck? Reading the article makes you wonder why he even covers this as news at all other than just using the news to criticize them.

Netscape’s user base is not exactly cutting edge, and AOL is clearly taking good ideas from new startups and seeing if their users will consume them. Netscape became a Digg clone in mid-2006, and now my.netscape is to jump on the Ajax homepage bandwagon. It’s nothing to criticize them for, but it’s nothing to get excited about, either. The long, slow decline of this once great company continues.

MyNetscape to Launch Today: More Ajaxy Muck

Compare the above with Read/Write Web’s more even-headed analysis, My.Netscape Being Re-Born as Web 2.0 Personalized Homepage.

It’s also no secret that Mike is a big fan and ardent supporter of Digg. Here he is criticizing Wired for writing an article criticizing Digg, even calling on Digg to sue Wired.

Digg can’t treat Wired like any other user that’s engaged in fraud. Wired is the press, and the press has tremendous power. Wired is putting Digg in an impossible situation, and they should be called on it. Reporting news is one thing (although they should note the conflict of interest there as well), but actively creating negative news about a competitor and then using the massive reach of Wired to promote that “news” is way over the line.

Digg Should Sue Wired

Okay, so Wired is a sister company to Digg competitor Reddit but sue? Mike doesn’t have any qualms about thrashing businesses that compete with companies that he has financial investments in but I guess that’s not acceptable for Wired to do themselves.

Or take this post where Mike raves about USA TODAY’s incorporation of social news features.

Unlike some of the tepid experiments tried by other major publications, these show an intelligent commitment to building community at the site. Steve Rubel says they haven’t gone far enough, and suggest additional features. I don’t disagree, but this is a big commitment already by one of the largest mainstream media publications in the world. Let’s hope the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and others follow soon.

Bravo To USATODAY

Unfortunately, he’s about the only person who thinks so highly of it because 92% don’t like it. USA TODAY just used a white label solution from Pluck as you can see from how prominently USA TODAY features on their home page.

All these articles were taken from the past week or so but it really illustrates how bad it’s gotten at TechCrunch. There are so many great blogs out there like the ones I used for contrast that cover similar territory and provide better written posts. I’m not writing this to hate on Mike. He deserves every bit of success he’s gotten and I’ll probably keep reading his blog since it’s the goto place to keep a pulse on the tech industry but maybe it’s time to hire some more writers.