“Talk about something interesting!”: the evisceration of Sarah Lacy

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s keynote address at the much-anticipated South by SouthWest Interactive conference in Texas this week, which was a chat with writer Sarah Lacy, turned from what should have been a straight-up interview into the public evisceration of a distinctly ‘old-media’ approach to journalism, wherein the crowd turned on Lacy halfway through the interview, both in the real session and online.
Micro-blogging site Twitter was flooded (mid-interview) with nasty comments about Lacy’s style, as she seemed to continously interrupt Zuckerberg, name-dropped her own book and generally grandstanded in a manner all too reminiscent of the fits of egomanical pique which smacked of a distinctly old-school media model – where the journalist seems to consider herself the centre of the story.
By the end of the session, Lacy had managed to piss the crowd off to such an extent that they wrested control of the session from her and started peppering Zuckerberg with pertinent questions about Facebook’s privacy and data portability. Tellingly, before ceding control of the session, Lacy is reported to have snapped “Let’s go with the Digg model and let them have mob rule.”
And there you have it – the digerati “mob” doesn’t suffer one journalist trying to insert themselves into the story, but demands that the the story be just that: the story. Lacy’s behaviour might have washed at the Learning Technologies conference or Educa Online, (both of which I recently attended and both of which had plenty of egos on show) but SXSW is neither of those. It’s where the early adopters are. It seems Lacy wildly misjudged who she was speaking in front of and the result is, well, let’s just say the knives are out.
Six months from now, I predict, any journo/blogger/mediawonk accused of getting too big for their boots, or just generally considering themselves more important than what they do, will be referred to as having ‘done a Lacy’.


SXSW: Zuckerberg Keynote Descends Into Chaos as Audience Takes Over (wired.com)
Journalist becomes the story at Mark Zuckerberg SXSWi keynote (cnet.com)

Damien DeBarra was born in the late 20th century and grew up in Dublin, Ireland. He now lives in London, England where he shares a house with four laptops, three bikes and a large collection of chairs.