Posts tagged with ‘Michael Arrington’
Tim Armstrong, chief executive of AOL, to the New York Times in response to news that TechCrunch founding editor Michael Arrington has started a $20 million venture fund that will invest in technology startups.
TechCrunch is an AOL property.
Arrington, and TechCrunch by extension, has often come under fire for conflict of interest. Arrington’s response is usually that he’s transparent about his investments in technology companies that TechCrunch covers.
Still though, say what, huh? Transparency is a key value in today’s news environment but running a leading technology publication while heading up a venture fund that invests in technology companies is, how should we say, beyond problematic for TechCrunch as a trustworthy brand.
Perhaps sensing that, Business Insider just reported that Arianna Huffington has told them that Arrington no longer works for TechCrunch and will not report to her at the AOL Huffington Post Media Group.
However, Business Insider says they are getting mixed signals about the veracity of that claim.
Update: Kara Swisher chimes in at AllThingsD:
And so it goes in Silicon Valley.
In fact, the creation of a $20 million investment kitty that Arrington has dubbed CrunchFund is simply the formalization of a long-standing arrangement that has already been going on since he founded his popular tech blog.
That is to say, in which the basic standards of journalism are first warped by calling it newfangled truth-telling and then endlessly corroded by using a wily and unusually aggressive combination of favors and threats to extract, from start-ups and VCs in need of press, both exclusive access and information.
And now, inevitably, money.
Yesterday, TechCrunch founder and editor Michael Arrington published a piece that updated his investment policy.
Today, All Things Digital’s Kara Swisher shares some questions she has for Arrington’s boss Arianna Huffington (AOL owns TechCrunch):
- What are, if any, the ethical guidelines about making investments for the editorial staff at HuffPo media group properties?
- Since Arrington now seems to have permission to do so from you, can other editors at AOL properties do the same–that is make very adjacent investments to what their site covers, as long as they disclose it? For example, can an editor who runs the entertainment site make investments in entertainment companies she/he has coverage responsibility over? (By the way, did you give him permission to make these investments? Did he ask?)
- Is there anyone who polices what is fair coverage of competitors–i.e. companies competing with companies your editors invest in?
- If an editor makes investments in a company and someone who works for them writes about that company, does that editor have to recuse himself from the story? Is that even possible?
- Since you just fired someone for what you called an ethical breach–asking freelancers to work for free and also seemingly defending an attempt to curry favor with an advertiser/client–why is this not an ethical breach?
…I don’t remember a time when the big guys were all throwing around “multiple sources” so freely and all zeroed in on exactly the same wrong story. It makes me think the FT just flubbed it, and the WSJ and NYTimes, eager to get their stories up, just found some source who told them what they wanted to hear.
— Michael Arrington, Techcrunch, The Twitter Story Fail. The article ends with a surprising twist when after lambasting the publications, Arrington says it’s actually ok because even though the story was wrong, it at least started the conversation that lead to the correct story. He calls this Process Journalism.
Former Engadget and Mashable Editor: “Web Journalism Is a Joke”
I’ve heard the argument that we’ve “redefined” journalism, but semantics aside, we’re either profit-seekers or truth-seekers. We’re either entertainers or informers. No one can be both unless the game rules are changed. I’m tired of seeing TechCrunch’s Michael Arrington and Huffpo’s Arianna Huffington claim otherwise in their crusades against “old media.”
For all the flak they get, at least AOL’s Tim Armstrong, Demand Media’s Richard Rosenblatt and Mahalo’s Jason Calacanis aren’t lying through their teeth. They’d be the first to tell you they’re mass-producing commodities tailored to consumer demand, just like Gap or McDonald’s.
And guess what? There’s nothing wrong with that. Wise people place their bets based on the cards they’re dealt. On the web we’ve all been dealt a shit hand for journalism, such that the only way to win the long game is to fold.
Instead, we have opportunities to use our resources to entertain, to shape the public and popular culture, and to generate financial opportunities for ourselves and others. Stop calling it journalism. It’s not, but it’s a rewarding way to make a living. Maintaining that distinction is vital to the critically endangered future of real journalism.