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The New York Times building. Photo: Avalon/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Tensions between tech and tech media hit a boiling point over the weekend, in the latest fraying of a once-cozy relationship.

The shortest version is that New York Times reporter Taylor Lorenz tweeted out some screenshots from the public Instagram of Away CEO Steph Korey, in which she criticized media coverage of her company.

  • Some tech investors and execs took exception to Lorenz’s characterization of Korey’s comments — and of amplifying them in the first place. The loudest opponent was crypto entrepreneur and former VC Balaji Srinivasan, who offered Bitcoin prizes to makers of memes about the episode (which, predictably, includes memes denigrating Lorenz).
  • This brouhaha extended from Twitter to techie voice chat app Clubhouse, a portion of which was leaked to Vice (don’t waste your time, the leak covered a pretty pedestrian hour of a longer conversation). Srinivasan has claimed Vice journalists themselves recorded the conversation, but has provided no evidence to back that up.

Some quick thoughts:

  1. Lorenz made a factual error in her initial tweet, related to Korey’s initial position at the company. She is a public figure, and scrutiny of such errors — and of her characterization of Korey's comments as "incoherent" — are fair game.
  2. Korey, as CEO of a (once) unicorn company, is also a public figure and her public comments are par for the course.
  3. Srinivasan escalated his longstanding critique of the media — and to the NYT in particular — into childish taunting and what could have become dangerous bullying. He also injected accusations of racial bias into the conversation, which was illegitimate.

Tensions between tech and those who cover it aren't new (see Wag, Valley). But there has been a ratcheting up of animosity and of assuming ill-intent. Not in all quarters, of course, but among some of the loudest and most influential voices in each realm.

The bottom line: Everyone needs to take a breath. Tech's job is to build. Tech media's job is to report on all aspects of what's being built — for better or for worse. And when mistakes are made, reflexive defensiveness is the worst posture.

Go deeper

Erica Pandey, author of @Work
Aug 4, 2020 - Economy & Business

Tech jobs aren't immune to the coronavirus

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

It's not just lower-wage service jobs in retail and at restaurants anymore. The effects of the coronavirus are beginning to reach the seemingly impervious tech industry.

By the numbers: New data from the jobs site Indeed shows that tech job postings were down 36% in late July, compared with the same time last year. That's even worse than the overall year-over-over drop in job postings of 21%.

Trump's coronavirus adviser Scott Atlas resigns

Photo: Nicholas Kamm/AFP via Getty

Scott Atlas, a controversial member of the White House coronavirus task force, handed in his resignation on Monday, according to three administration officials who discussed Atlas' resignation with Axios.

Why it matters: President Trump brought in Atlas as a counterpoint to NIAID director Anthony Fauci, whose warnings about the pandemic were dismissed by the Trump administration. With Trump now fixated on election fraud conspiracy theories, Atlas' detail comes to a natural end.

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2 hours ago - World

Assassination in Iran sets stage for tense final 50 days of Trump

The funeral ceremony in Tehran. Photo: Iranian Defense Ministry via Getty

Iranian leaders are weighing their response to the assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, known as the father of Iran’s military nuclear program, who was given a state funeral Monday in Tehran.

The big picture: Iran has accused Israel of carrying out Friday’s attack, but senior leaders have suggested that they’ll choose patience over an immediate escalation that could play into the hands of the Israelis and the outgoing Trump administration.