I will not pretend to be an authority about this TechCrunch issue, just as I do not pretend to know much about the other issues the (in)famous tech-related blog has had over the years. Still, I could enumerate some ethical concerns related to it (in an attempt to gain a grade).
1. Careless reporting
“Information is all that matters. The rest is just bullshit.”
– MG Siegler’s defense of TechCrunch
From this statement, one can infer that Siegler is not that well-grounded on the ethics of journalism (and by extension, blogging). Information is, in fact, not all that matters; the delivery of accurate and objective information is. If information is all that matters, then I can forego accuracy and objectivity since they’re nothing but bullshit (forgive the coarse language). In fact, since information is all that matters, I can just fabricate interesting and dramatic stories that people will find interesting, like what Stephen Glass did. There’s nothing wrong about that since information is all that matters, right?
2. Inevitable biased reporting
I can see only one outcome if Arrington succeeds in investing in the companies TechCrunch covers (and he remains with TechCrunch): biased reporting in favor of those same companies. Since good reviews on the products of those companies would bring Arrington profit, then it would be in his best interests to use his blog to create those positive reviews himself. Unless Arrington is some kind of journalistic saint, that happening is as inevitable as the movement of tectonic plates.
In order to back up this prediction, allow me to cite how the government websites and state-owned media companies paint their countries as heaven on earth and/or portray their enemies as evil incarnate. Follow these three links at your own risk.
3. Escaping responsibility
“I don’t claim to be a journalist.” -Arrington
One of the statements Arrington made in his defense is that he is not a journalist. And since he’s not a journalist, then journalistic standards don’t apply to him.
That is probably the most idiotic thing I’ve read all morning.
To back up my statement, let me apply the logic of Arrington’s statement to a rather severe example from history.
Everyone knows that the Nazis murdered six million Jews in World War II. Everyone also knows that the Holocaust was not only legal in Germany, it was also sanctioned by Hitler’s government. Since the Nazis are German and the extermination of “inferior” people was part of the Third Reich’s official policy, then the Allies had no right to punish the Nazi leaders they captured after the Soviets took Berlin.
Ethics is not limited by nationality or profession. It’s defined by what a person is and what he does. Since the Nazis are human beings, the principles of humanity apply to them (which led to their conviction in Nuremberg). And since Arrington breaks news (and that is basically what journalism is in a nutshell), the principles of journalism apply to him.
There are some people who say that the methods used by Arrington are the future of journalism. If this is true, then I weep for future generations, who would be deprived of unbiased and accurate news.