When we asked if you wanted to know what Mike Arrington was thinking I don’t think we had “putting TechCrunch UK on hold” in mind.
The recent LeWeb3 conference in Paris (which many bloggers were extremely unhappy at because it turned into some kind of political event) sparked a review post from editor Sam Sethi entitled Le Web3 the good, bad and ugly. According to Arrington (in his later post Putting TechCrunch UK on hold) there wasn’t a problem with that post per se – Sethi had editorial judgement and used it.
Mike then went on to write (and I quote, so that his version of events are not clouded by my interpretation):
Conference organizer Loic Le Meur, however, took offense at the post and left a regrettable comment, calling Sam an â€œassholeâ€. I havenâ€™t spoken to Loic directly about why he left the comment, but it is likely he felt betrayed by a partner, and lashed out after being hit all day yesterday with criticism about the conference.
I emailed Loic and told him that while I have no issue with the original post that Sam wrote, Iâ€™d understand if he wanted us to delete his comment. He said he would like it removed, and he also apologized publicly on the blog post. I asked (didnâ€™t order) Sam to remove the comment.
If Sam had decided in his editorial discretion not to remove Loicâ€™s comment, that would have been fine. But he didnâ€™t do that. He left the comment in, and then wrote a new post (which I have removed) highlighting the â€œassholeâ€ comment to embarrass Loic, unneccesarily in my opinion. The fact that Sam did this, ignoring my request not to, and ignoring Loicâ€™s apology, was unacceptable. He saw an opportunity for attention and took it, even at the cost of hurting someone else. I see this all the time – get a well known blogger to lose their cool and then leverage that event for further attention. Sure, Loic lost his cool. But he promptly apologized. He did not deserve to be trashed in a new post.
The subsequent post from Sethi was removed (which some see as a cardinal blogging sin in itself), Sam lost his position at TechCrunch UK, and the whole blog is ‘on hold‘.
It’s hard to be totally objective, as no-one has every side to the story. Here’s a few thoughts based on my mulling over the situation over the past day. Feel free to shoot them down in the comments!
- Mike Arrington has the right to do whatever he likes with his blogs and staff.
- Anyone who posts a comment on a blog surely knows that it becomes part of the public domain, and is likely to be acted upon. This isn’t a private email. Loic could have refrained from commenting publicly and gone directly to either Sam or Mike.
- Mike interestingly quotes “Basic ethical behavior is not subjective.” Oh, I think it is. Maybe it’s not subjective within TechCrunch, but I am sure some (lower profile / snarky) blogs would have leapt at the chance to stoke an online argument. Having said that, it’s not particularly professional behaviour on either side.
- Sam shot himself in the foot – as far as TechCrunch was concerned – by publishing stories of his dismissal, and so on (according to Arrington). Still, I doubt it’ll do Sam much harm and he’s bound to land on his feet…
- …but as for TechCrunch UK. Well, a promising UK focused “Web 2.0″ / startup blog is now hanging in the balance. Something needs to move quickly or readers will move on somewhere else – just take a look at the comments.