I once pointed out, not exactly kidding, that some people get their news right here at Answer Guy Central. As I told you then—and like Jon Stewart—I’m sure grateful for the people who think enough of what I have to say and how I say it that you get your information here, but I’m certainly not a journalist.
Late last week, the probably-not-final postscript to the Michael Arrington vs. Arianna Huffington / TechCrunch vs. AOL debacle came off the keyboard of Erick Schonfeld, who’s been appointed by Ms. Huffington to lead the now Arrington-less TechCrunch. Schonfeld “accepted the resignation” of Paul Carr from TechCrunch.
He did so in public. He did so because he wanted to slap Michael Arrington and his TechCrunch cronies around, and I suppose at least a little bit wanted to prove that he’s just as big a windbag as his former boss.
I’m not being flip, by the way; there was simply no reason to do what Erick Schonfeld did publicly—in fact, it was downright unprofessional—other than to proclaim for Michael Arrington, Paul Carr, Arianna Huffington and anyone else who cares that Erick Schonfeld is as interested in puffing out his chest as he is in being an editor for a publication that his boss has stated would maintain editorial independence.
Arianna Huffington should fire Erick Schonfeld from his post as Editor of TechCrunch. Right Now.
There’s a piece of me that has no problem at all with Schonfeld’s posturing. Much of the rhetoric being spewed by Michael Arrington and Arringtonions like Carr and MG Siegler has been based not on the ability of AOL and Arianna Huffington’s ability to hire people who can turn out solid news or analysis but on the supposedly sacrosanct bluster of Michael Arrington being unreproduceable. Mission accomplished, Erick Schonfeld; you’ve proven that you can be as big a jerk as Mike Arrington.
And I’ll cop to the likelihood that there are more than a few TechCrunch readers who like TechCrunch’s edge as much as they like the content—or consider that snark part of the content. Again, I get it because I understand that some people who read what I write here come back because of how I write as much as what I write.
But if they’re to be the journalists that Arianna Huffington claims make up her stable of paid content producers at AOL then AOL and Ms. Huffington need to reign in Erick Schonfeld, or as I said above, dump Schonfeld altogether.
Then again, the sad truth that AOL and Arianna Huffington can’t be trusted as journalists is pretty clear. AOL is a content farm, bent on generating traffic without regard for the quality of the content that brings that traffic to them.
I don’t work for AOL. Arianna Huffington hasn’t asked my opinion of her work; nor has her boss, Tim Armstrong. But the flaw in the plans that both Tim and Arianna are so badly mishandling is that while their business change toward a bigger and bigger content farm makes sense in a vacuum, people will not view you as journalists unless they believe you’re worthy of their trust.
AOL wants to be taken seriously as an outpost of journalism? Then they need to start acting like journalism is what they produce. Erick Schonfeld isn’t the guy to make that happen at TechCrunch. And it looks more and more as though the true essence of their business change is beyond the comprehension of Tim Armstrong and Arianna Huffington.
And yes, Arianna, I’ll help you fix this mess; all you need do is ask …