A month ago, April, 27, 2011, Michael Arrington posted “An Update To My Investment Policy”, which not surprisingly generated negative reaction from established journalists. I wanted to respond right away, but I’ve been too busy at Betanews, where new editorial responsibilities add to writing.
The issue is a long-standing one of debate regarding TechCrunch’s founder—that he invests in, or has other business dealings with, some of the companies he writes about.
There’s a proposition on the California November ballot to legalize marijuana. Sarah Lacy must be smoking some already. Her TechCrunch post “Now that the Recession Officially Ended….Whatever Happened to that Other Shoe?" is so out of touch with reality—what else could it be? That:
Some people—heck, some organizations—have no sense of humor. Humorless perhaps best describes Associated Press, which apparently didn’t get Woot’s joke about owing money for a blog excerpt. TechCrunch’s MG Siegler put AP in its place today, that’s assuming there isn’t yet a nasty takedown-notice response coming.
Some quick background: About two years ago, AP decided that no one should excerpt its content without paying for it. The policy defies decades of journalist practices and fair-use laws. I could understand AP going after blocks of text, but no, it’s the little excerpts, too. Excerpt up to 50 words and AP expects you to pay $17.50; 100 bucks for 251 words or more. The approach is controversial, as it should be.
There’s something dirty feeling about watching Michael Arrington’s interview of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer. I don’t mean that as criticism of Michael; plenty of other folks have done that all too well. It’s this new media thing, where you sleep with the people you write about. You do business with them and for them.
Who am I to criticize? The new media thing is working out rather well for TechCrunch, which makes oodles of money, commands huge traffic and pageview numbers and mingles with Silicon Valley’s dealers and stealers.
The pull is enough for Steve to sit down with Michael for a video interview. The CEO isn’t talking to the New York Times or Wall Street Journalhere, but to TechCrunch.
On July 17, I posted, “The Michael Arrington Matter,” where I came down hard on the TechCrunch cofounder for publishing stolen, internal Twitter documents. I wouldn’t have done it. But in fairness, TechCrunch is successful—and for a reason. TechCrunch publishes lots of original content, as much in the comments as the stories. Readers participate in the process.