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Monday, September 5, 2011

AOL Ignores TechCrunch’s Conflict of Interest

According to the New York Times, “When Michael Arrington, the editor of the popular Web site TechCrunch, told his bosses at AOL that he was forming a venture capital company to finance some of the technology start-ups that his site wrote about, they did not fire him or ask for his resignation. Instead, . . .  they invested about $10 million in his fund.” Tim Armstrong, AOL’s chief executive, issued the following statement when CrunchFund was announced: “TechCrunch is a different property and they have different standards. We have a traditional understanding of journalism with the exception of TechCrunch, which is different but is transparent about it.” As for Michael Arrington, Arianna Huffington claimed that he would have no influence on coverage—that there would be, in effect, a Chinese wall between TechCrunch’s news site and venture-capital firm. However earlier on the same day, Arrington stated, “I am TechCrunch and TechCrunch is me.” 

The full essay is at Institutional Conflicts of Interest, available in print and as an ebook at Amazon.