Sometime last year a bunch of people from Engadget, a consumer technology blog, left that to start a competitor, The Verge. The reasons for that are unclear, but if I make any conjecture about it, someone from there will be eager to tell me that my guesses are wrong, insult me for guessing, but not bother to state the reason for the split up.
Although I was perfectly happy with Engadget, I decided to give the Verge a try for a while. I have to say, in the end, I just don’t like them. Especially their weekly podcast.
A recent, glaring example of the podcast’s awfulness, from their August 9, 2012 installment, took place shortly after Nilay began talking about what had recently happened to Mat Honan. At that point the host, Joshua Topolosky, interrupted him with this valuable insight: “Wait a second, hold on, I-I-I don’t think that’s exactly how it worked. I think how it worked is … I think what happened here is … I think it has … I think what how this worked … that.” Nilay then attempted to continue the story only to be interrupted a second later with more of Joshua’s babbling: “No I think he started, I actually think he started … we should really know the sequence but,” and then, with Nilay’s help, they finally started to piece together the sequence of events which Nilay had already been prepared to describe.
During the recent Apple vs. Samsung trial the Vergecast had a series of special episodes to discuss all the gory details and developments. The stated purpose of this was so that they wouldn’t have to take up too much time on the regular podcast discussing the case. Well, that didn’t stop them from discussing the case for 30 minutes (out of a one hour podcast) on their August 16 episode, even though a special on the case had been done the day before. Joshua Topolsky just felt it that necessary to retread the material for his own sake. This was especially disappointing because the OnLive meltdown started that day but was apparently not newsworthy to The Vergecast (again, in favor of material they’d already covered.)
You’ll notice a common element between these two complaints: Joshua Topolosky. The host is just plain bad at what he does. Looking back, he had a bad habit of interrupting people to contribute nothing back in his Engadget days, too. What could be the cause of this? I think it’s just a need to be the center of attention. He can’t stand not being the one whose voice is mostly clearly heard, regardless of what it’s saying. Even when he’s not babbling nonsense, he’s coherently stating bullshit like “you need to lie to tell to the truth.” Maybe this is a defining characteristic of the Verge in general, after all, one of the editors–tired of only writing stories about technology and instead wanting to write about himself–has sworn off the Internet for a year (which is laughably counter-productive for a technology podcast.)
I suppose this is nothing entirely unique. After all, people seem to prefer to buy personalities rather than product these days. So The Verge represents a new(ish) wave of reporting where the reporters want themselves to be the focus, and not what they have to say.