CNET: From “News” to Noise

I got the following ad in my email stream and it gave me reason to pause. C|NET, oh yeah, they used to do news and product reviews…

I remember the big red C|NET ball on TV long before I ran into ZD-TV in the mid-90s. In the days before ZD-TV, C|NET TV was usually just one well-produced show hosted by Richard Hart about future gadgets. Loved C|NET. It was a small window into great journalism about something I cared about.

Then I lost track of C|NET when I discovered ZD-TV (which became Tech-TV and then spawned & TWiT.TV when Tech-TV went bust). When Tech-TV went bust I went looking for new tech-news sources, eventually finding Buzz Out Loud, a daily news podcast from C|NET with Tom Merritt, Molly Wood and Veronica Belmont. Funny that I never really turned to any of the established news organizations for my tech news. But none of them were really covering this daily tech-news, so I guess I was lucky to have found Buzz Out Loud in this era when other “news” podcasts were generally a couple guys sitting on a couch yammering endlessly with bad audio and bad lighting. Life was good with C|NET.

Then everyone went video, C|NET expanded their offerings, very much like the Richard Hart C|NET days with a wide selection of well-produced shows. Besides Buzz Out Loud I listened and watched C|NET to the Rescue, Apple Byte, C|NET Top Five, MP3 Insider, Crave and Gadgettes. Funny that I didn’t add the more “review” centric shows, but I had plenty of audio/video podcasts with Revision3, TWiT.TV and many, many others. I completely lost count to the number of podcasts I was listening to/watching. Podcasting became “legitimate,” a number podcasters formed companies and a few were bought by much larger media companies, like C|NET getting bought by CBS and becoming part of CBS-Interactive.

So, what happened to C|NET that would cause me to diss them in my opening paragraph? I’ve written about this before, but as C|NET grew there was a tendency for them to follow the journalism/media model popular in AM and satellite radio of promoting personalities, sometimes at the detriment of the journalistic value. Granted I wasn’t listening to/watching the review-type shows where one would guess the more journalistic-bend would be found. But especially when Tom Merritt left C|NET to do the daily news podcast, Tech News Today, for Leo Laporte and TWiT, the rest of the C|NET shows became mostly rant-fests and decidedly anti-Apple. One by one, as much as I felt like it was important that I not just listen to/watch podcasts that I agree with, I started pruning the C|NET shows because I got tired of the endless rants based on the weakest analysis and the attitude that they were “all that.” The actual tech news got lost in the process and now whenever I see something pop-up in my Twitter or email streams from C|NET I give the information “rumor” status. Right now I only have two C|NET shows on my player, Reporters’ Roundtable and Loaded, the former by the lone journalist who I trust at C|NET, Rafe Needleman, and the latter a quick daily news round-up with no real commentary. From over half-a-dozen shows down to two, that’s how much trust and time I give to C|NET. Sad. And not a name I really trust for straight reviews or news.


  1. Joakim

    Well said! I have done exactly the same, altough I have stopped listen to all CNET shows. I prefer quality programs by intelligent people, like most of the shows on the 5by5 network.


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