Howard Kurtz described the drama at TechCrunch as ‘a clash of cultures‘ on Sunday’s ‘Reliable Sources.’
The truth is these two cultures — between what is now commonly labeled as ‘new media’ and ‘old media’ — have been clashing for a while now.
A media war has been quietly brewing for much of the past decade. The battle lines are largely being drawn by those who know a lot about technology and business, but virtually nothing about producing and gathering news. Those constitutionally charged with keeping the American public informed—journalists—are scrambling to figure out ways to change its revenue-generating model so that it can better compete in a changing media landscape.
That all came to a boiling point earlier this month when Michael Arrington, the founder of tech news site, TechCrunch, announced he would launch a venture capital fund with AOL, which purchased TechCrunch a year ago. It was initially reported that Arrington would remain editor-in-chief of TechCrunch at the same time he would be investing in tech companies that were either covered by his website or competed against his investments. Regardless, such a deal flew in the face of traditional journalistic ethics and legacy publications, like The New York Times, cried foul.
In the end, Arrington wound up reluctantly parting company with AOL — and leaving the company he founded — at his boss’ insistence.
My question: Who won this battle? Or did we all lose?
Was it Arrington, who represents the new face of those who traffic in information, as Jeff Jarvis, director of the interactive journalism program at the City University’s Graduate School of Journalism of New York, puts it. While Arrington was forced out by Arianna Huffington, who runs AOL/HuffingtonPost, he walks away with $10 million from AOL to help start his new venture, CrunchFund and can start another blog.
Was it so-called legacy publications that have journalistic standards it adheres to that apparently prevailed with Arrington’s departure?
Or did both sides lose? The public already has a perception that objective journalism is a myth. Arrington’s defense is that he has always been upfront about his potential conflicts of interest and that is what separates him from so-called journalists who pretend otherwise.
I call it a draw considering that the same weekend there seemed to finally be an end to the AOL TechCrunch drama, hackers took over NBC’s Twitter account, undermining traditional media’s efforts to distribute reliable news using new media tools. And the war wages on….
For those who missed it, here are parts 1 and 2 of the ‘Reliable Sources’ War at TechCrunch report: