Silicon Valley Watcher - Former FT journalist Tom Foremski reporting from the intersection of technology and media

Making AOL Look Foolish: Arrington Continues To Post Despite Losing Techcrunch Job

Posted by Tom Foremski - September 6, 2011

SVW was the first to point out that Mike Arrington lost his job at Techcrunch over his insistence to be an investor in his beat companies.

Arrington Replaced At Techcrunch As AOL Seeks To Shore Up Media Credibility - SVW

However, he continues to post articles on Techcrunch in defiance of AOL's and Arianna Huffington's statements that he is no longer employed and that Erick Schonfeld is interim editor while a replacement is found.

AOL did say that he would be an "occasional contributor" but it's clear that he has unrestricted access to Techcrunch's publishing system. That means he could post about his investments (with disclosure) anytime he wishes.

Mr Arrington has posted several times since he was replaced. Today he wrote about trying to buy back Techcrunch if AOL won't fulfill a promise to allow the site to remain independent -- or he will leave.

His threat to depart seems an empty gesture if he is no longer employed. But who will tell him he no longer is allowed to post?

He is making AOL executive management look foolish that they have little control over a publication they own because he has access to the publishing system 24/7.

Interestingly, the Techcrunch "About Staff" page is blank:

TCBlank.jpg

It should look like this:

TCStaff.jpg

Dan Farber, a veteran journalist and a senior editor at CBS, wrote in comments to the latest post by Mr Arrington:

... According to Mike, TechCrunch should have "editorial independence"--report to no one, but.....maybe Tim Armstrong? Did AOL pay $25 to $30 million for a blog company covering startups that generates less than $10 million in revenue (mostly from its events business) for a company with more than $2.4 billion in revenue in 2010 (now rapidly declining) to be told that TechCrunch cannot be touched by hands from HuffPo, which cost AOL more than $300 million to acquire?

It appears less about editorial independence and more about incompatible egos running into each other. It's an inside game.

The fate of journalism is not in Mike Arrington's or Arianna Huffington's hands. Journalism is doing the work, and earning the trust of readers, listeners and viewers. TechCrunch earned journalism stripes. It's not clear how the absence of Arrington or presence of HuffPo would change TechCrunch. But the loyal readers, who vote with their clicks, should be able to tell if TechCrunch turns into TechCrap.

Well said.


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