23:47 PM

11.16.06: ValleyWag's Douglas fired for shooting off his mouth

On Monday, Nick Denton announced that editor Nick Douglas "is leaving." Reading through Denton's post, we concluded that Denton had in fact fired Douglas.

Robert Scoble asked: "Where did you hear that Nick was fired? I knew Nick was leaving Valleywag for at least a month. That doesn't indicate someone getting fired."

Well, yeah, fired. The Times has an email to staff from Denton's #2, Lockhart Steele, that lays out why "we let Nick Douglas go." It includes accusations of getting too cozy with sources, favor trading and inappropriate ego elevation. But what got Steele and Denton frothing is apparently this interview, in which he said Valleywag was baiting for a good, solid lawsuit from News Corp. or another giant.

We don’t report stories to “finally get sued.” We report stories because we think they deserve to be out there. Whatever follows from them is whatever follows from them. Sarcasm or not, it’s quotes like these that could make us look really foolish — or worse — down the road.

These are issues that we repeatedly spoke to and warned Nick about. It finally reached a break-point where changing editors was the only solution.

But Denton's clearly been spinning that the change was about beefing up the site's gravitas, not dumping a problem editor. Gracious of him, I suppose but Denton of all people should know that the truth always comes out online.

In his public post and later press interviews, Denton intimated that the move was all about editorial direction. Here he is in the announcement post:

Nick Douglas ... will be a great journalist. And we will look stupid for letting him go. But, to helm the site, we're now looking for someone with, ideally, some background in reporting. An old-media career, useful in the sparkling new world of blogs. Who would have thought?

And in an IM chat with the Chronicle's Al Saracevic:

ND: ... I think there's a real hunger for unadulterated news on the Valley

ND: and I wanted to bring in someone as fearless as Nick Douglas, but with more authority

Al: Yeah, the traffic looks good.

Al: You hinted that some of recent posts were too sex-oriented. Can you elaborate? Was it (Nick Douglas' recent) item about Sergey Brin and Marissa Mayer dating?

ND: no, they're both public figures, and that rumor was going around, and Nick said it seemed pretty crazy

ND: but we're going to pick less on civilians

Al: So, no specific item triggered this?

ND: no