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.