The coming demise of Mike Arrington, the reporter

August 14, 2006

The end is nigh…we’ll it is for Mike Arrington, and I’ll tell you why: Crunchboard and Crunchgear.

Unlike a whole pile of other people who think that the move by Mike Arrington to launch a gadget blog is nuts (how many times have I read the phrase “not another gadget blog” or similar in Bloglines over the last week!) I think both it (Crunchgear) and Crunchboard are both great ideas that leverage the popularity of the core readership of Techcrunch into new media properties.

However, it also spells the end, if not now, but very shortly, of Mike Arrington as a reporter.

Why? because at the end of the day you can’t be a player and be seen to be an impartial reporter, and of all people I should know. It’s exactly what happened to me at The Blog Herald. Despite years of writing on topics I loved, once I started getting seriously involved in building a Blog Network, anything, and I mean anything I wrote about others in that business was taken by a loud minority of people to be slanted by my own business dealings….Duncan Riley, impartial reporter (at least by perception) took a bloody great big stab in the back, and instead of ignoring the knife wounds, I eventually sold The Blog Herald. Sure, I write about stuff in the industry here now at duncanriley.com (although not nearly as often as I once did), but when people read it, they know it’s my personal thoughts on the subject, it’s not attempting to provide something close to being impartial reporting on the subject because this is a personal blog. Techcrunch isn’t a personal blog, it’s setup as being a leading industry new source.

If Mike’s not in the situation now where he’s impartiality is being questioned (and I’d note I’ve already noticed some allegations upon a similar vain around the place), it soon will be. How can Mike write about people like Jason Calacanis or Nick Denton without people making allegations of a conflict of interest when he’s competing against them? How can he write about Web 2.0 startups in the employment industry when he’s competing against them? And with word that he intends on rolling out more blogs as part of the Crunch network, the conflict is only going to grow.

So what’s the solution? He either divests himself of Techcrunch, or he brings in talent to take his place….naturally given the huge dominance (in terms of traffic) Techcrunch has in his network, the later in more likely. Mike’s a smart guy, so expect to see new people writing at Techcrunch in the future, expect to see a set of policies for the site pertaining to its writers in terms of disclosures and editorial independence….basically, expect the death of Mike Arrington, the reporter.

 

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2 responses to The coming demise of Mike Arrington, the reporter

  1. Duncan, I think you’re spot on.

    And I think I was one of the minority I not always I hope) who badgered you at times about impartiality when you did TBH especially after starting up b5.

    I’m sure 99.9999% of the times you were being fair and balanced and totally unbiased. But it’s the perception that counts (perceptions often times overrides fact by a country mile sadly), but also I’ve been in media outlets where a little wink and nudge from a proprietor as to which angle to push is all too common.

    It’ll be good watching on the TechCrunch changes – it’s a real love/hate with that guy. Is there a reason cause I don’t really follow that much of it.

  2. I thought Arrington stopped doing much of the reporting on TechCrunch a long time ago. I’ve heard there are 2 or 3 other writers, at least. I’ve taken to assuming that no posts are written by Arrington anymore, unless one happens to mention otherwise.

    One thing that’s been bugging me is that the specific writer’s byline never appears — which sucks. Hey, I want to know! It’s like we’re all expected to think that one guy, Arrington, is actually writing all these posts, after methodically doing all the research and interviewing they require? No way. And I don’t get why he seems to be trying to prolong that fantasy….

    Traditional media doesn’t hide who’s doing the writing. Why should a blog, purported to be so unbiased, be any different?