Saturday, September 17, 2011

How To Lose Colleagues And Alienate Employers

(Background: AOL buys popular tech site TechCrunch for $25 million. Site's founder and mascot Michael Arrington violates ethics rules by starting a venture capital fund to invest in companies the site would cover. Corporate communications snafu ensues. Ends with Arrington fired and staff outraged at his superior, Huffington Post founder Arianna Huffington, for floundering on policy enforcement. Some quit.)

Exhibit A: In a public letter of resignation, columnist Paul Carr throws Arrington's replacement and right-hand man, Erick Schonfeld, under the bus.

What I knew last week, but can only write now, is that while Heather, Mike and other senior editorial staffers were making a stand for the site’s editorial independence from The Huffington Post, Erick cut a side deal with Huffington to guarantee him the top job once Mike was gone. [...]

One of these two men is your new ethical champion, Arianna. The other one is the guy you fired.

Exhibit B: Newly-installed editor-in-chief Erick Schonfeld posts a bitter public retort to Carr's post.

Paul Carr, one of our columnists who was hired for his grandstanding ways, has decided to fall on his own sword and quit very publicly on TechCrunch. I believe this is the second or third time he’s quit in public in the past couple weeks. I keep losing count. He thinks he is somehow being loyal to Mike and standing up for the editorial independence of the site. But he is not. He is just grandstanding.

Exhibit C: Staff writer MG Siegler (publicly) laments the public dispute, takes a shot at his current employer and takes another at a potential one.

I’m just sincerely worried about the state of AOL that they seem to have a total disregard for the actual situation. TechCrunch is a key property and one of the few bright spots in their portfolio. But to them, it’s apparently just numbers.That’s a losing stance. TechCrunch may survive with that stance, but it will not thrive as it has. That’s the CNET stance. Complacency is poison.

(In full disclosure, CNET is owned by the same company I work for.)

Three posts, three journalists, and given enough time, zero with jobs. Not a terribly good way to demonstrate professionalism to industry observers in the face of uncertainty.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Do you think these people understand how petty, bitchy and high-school-ish their behavior is? They all reflect poorly on themselves *and* the organization.