Sure, we'd be happy to cover your new gadget, but we'll need an exclusive on that. The exclusive will be worth, at the margin, 50,000 uniques we won't lose to Endgadget (and the attendant link equity we'll get for being first, and possibly mainstream media attention). The CPM for this blog is $10. But $500 in an envelope on the table, that is totally different. That makes us feel like we're selling coverage.
Hating TechCrunch is certainly a popular opinion at times, and there are some reasonable stances to base that opinion on, but this is not one.
delta(P1, P2) is nonzero. Hilariously nonzero. If Steve Jobs had a fit of stupid and had given somebody the exclusive for the iPad, that would probably have been worth hundreds of millions of page views. Page views are, of course, exchangable for money. We build entire industries on that fact.
News media outlets are willing to trade things of value for exclusives. For example, PR flacks value embargoes. TechCrunch will give you one if, and only if, you give them an exclusive, despite their professed hatred for them in all other contexts. That should imply to you that TechCrunch is getting something from the exclusive -- and it isn't delta(N).
Even if your only criterion in deciding what to print was how newsworthy it was, you'd still be more likely to print a story if you'd been given an exclusive.
Also, if you're more likely to print a story when given an exclusive, then newsworthiness is not your only criterion in deciding what to print.
Did I really need to explain that? This reminds me of the thread a few days ago when I had to explain that it was not necessarily meaningless to talk about something that would have happened.
This is why I need to get rid of points on comments. 11 points on a comment makes it into something that demands an answer. Without points it would just have to stand on its own merits.
(Your second sentence is simply false. The newsworthiness of a story isn't constant; it's higher the first time the story is published. E.g. that Steve Jobs had a liver transplant has near zero newsworthiness now, but it was big news when the story first broke. And if someone gives you an exclusive on a story, then you're assured that it will be breaking news when you publish it, with the attendant increment in newsworthiness.)
About my second sentence - I was imagining a story with little newsworthiness, as this is one extreme of your "only criteria". If a publisher is more likely to publish this story because of an exclusive, which is what you seem to be saying, then newsworthiness isn't the only criteria.
I did not mean to be combative or demand an answer from you - my apologies if I came off that way. I just don't agree with or don't understand your point of view, and said so. Apparently 10 other people thought that it stands on its own merits well enough to deserve an upvote. If you don't agree, that's fine, but the snark is uncalled for. If you don't think a post is worthy of a reply, then don't.
2) Are you really providing much of anything to TC with your exclusive in terms of traffic? They drive traffic to you, not the other way around.
As the old saying goes, after that we're just dickering about the price.
My guess is that exclusivity is more of an ego thing than anything else. Competitive people like to win, and in journalism that means scooping the competition. TC might make just as much money, with or without an exclusive (give or take a few dollars). If true, all you're doing by giving an exclusive is feeding their ego. That's hardly the same as handing over a $2k laptop.
TC lives by the 'scoop', remember the time when they posted twitters internal documents only because they said they were afraid someone else might beat them to it ?
Ethics and TechCrunch have very little to do with each other.
I see nothing wrong with exclusives. This happens regularly in business not just in news. For Techcrunch, it's simply an optimization and they are likely to not sell their news space for otherwise non-newsworthy items anyway.
Also, I love how the identity of the intern wasn't disclosed. Not only does it allow him to make amends and learn from his mistakes, it also shows the level of professionalism that stems from TechCrunch.
Expect a public apology from the kid in the next 24hrs.
if you want to know who it is go here:
-> Deleted /var on a production system I had no right touching at a Fortune 500.
-> Drove my dad's car into a fence. Unlicensed.
-> Stole the street sign for Cobain St.
-> Plagiarised a philosophy essay (Hegel).
-> etc. etc. etc.
Seventeen year old kids mess up. Seventeen year old kids grow up.
Go easy tiger.
The 'you had no right touching' bit should have been 'you should have no possibility to touch'.
Whoever administered that systems shares part of the blame, you have done it, but they should have never let you get within spitting distance of a terminal capable of doing that.
I think his point was (EDIT: I am just clarifying what I think his point was, not endorsing it) not that it was a "minor slipup" but that the person who committed this is a kid and not an adult (17 is a bit borderline but still pretty young)and he is asking for some compassion and discretion. At least that is how I read it.
fwiw, I have no position on the matter but I tend to a (purely subjective) viewpoint he has been punished enough.
We should be looking at things like..how much experience does he have writing? with publicity and marketing? How many times has he admitted to doing something like this, and how many more people went up to Arrington and voiced their concerns about what he did? Where was the TC team while this was going on...or did he just not ask anyone for any advice and do it on his own, thinking that writing for TC would be a great leverage to get gear without anyone knowing?
Age does correspond with a degree of maturity, cynicism, experience and more, but this person so many people are jumping to defend because of his age of all things doesn't exactly have a lack of experience blogging for business, doing podcasts, organizing conferences and more. I remember seeing his sites about Apple and teens in tech years ago. Don't even know what was going through his head when he attempted to do this multiple times, and TC is far larger than anything he's ever done before, but he should have realized this was a really bad idea. Based on his experience. Not his age or lack thereof.
That being said, I think an outing on a site like TC is bound to hurt his reputation for a long time to come, and that's probably more punishment than he deserves.
Remember when microsoft tried to bribe tech bloggers with laptops ?
This whole thing does not stand in isolation.
Is there a code of conduct for blog ethics?
Let me ask this question, because it seems it needs asking:
1) has anybody here ever been approached by other 'writers' who will do a write-up in exchange for goodies ?
2) has anybody here been approached by writers to post links under their HN username ?
The second has definitely happened to me, the first was so oblique that it might be my misunderstanding. But I'm fairly surprised, what's your call, should I out the publication ? The person doing the canvassing ?
I've been wondering about what to do with this.
As for the way this 'kid' (I'm putting that in quotes because if you are smart enough to ask for computers worth quite a bit of money you are smart enough to understand there are consequences if you get caught) has behaved, the other side to that story is those companies that did not get written about because they refused to play ball.
We're not talking about an accident or an oversight here, but at a deliberate attempt at fraud, and not a one-off but part of a pattern.
I don't see even being fired and having to return the goods to his employer who will presumably re-imburse the people that 'paid' for it is a punishment, that leaves him at '0'.
TC is handling this as good as they can after the fact, but before you give someone access to the editorial process don't you at least read them the riot act as to what the consequences will be if they do something like this?
Just like the 'real' newspapers companies like TC wield some power and it is important to make sure that everybody that is in on the process knows exactly where the line is.
If TC did make it clear in advance what is permissible I'm sympathetic to naming the guy, if not then probably not.
The key bit in Mikes post is this:
> on at least one other occasion
So, how often did that happen ? Once ? Twice ? More ??
If more then outing the guy looks reasonable, if it is once or twice then again, probably not.
I'm sympathetic with vaksels gut reaction, but slow down a bit and let's get some more data before making that call.
TC has their opinion, that's fine, we're all adults and reasonably smart cookies here, I'd like to be able to trust what I read is not coloured in any way and what Mike is doing is as much damage control on behalf of TC as it is an exercise in ethics after the fact.
Let's hear him out on how he has posted guidelines about how his writers should behave.
No policy -> TC bad, no matter how they spin it now, Yes policy -> kid gets outed, but only if this happened more than the 2 times that we're sure about.
I think that's fairly reasonable.
Really? That's awful. Ha - I've been making comments around saying that people shouldn't be outing the intern. But now I'm dying to ask you who it was. Maybe if the person's real identity can't be guessed from the username...? Jeez, I don't know. This sucks; I'm going to bed. Figure out the ethics yourself. ;)
I completely agree. There's probably many (more than two) sides to the story. I was just clarifying what I thought to be a misunderstanding of a comment. (I did say "I think his point was not X but Y"). I wasn't endorsing his position.
I personally have no interest in wasting time, neurons and keystrokes passing judgment on what level of "punishment" (including naming/outing) for this person would be appropriate, especially here on HN. (Nothing wrong in wanting to, just saying I don't want to).
Most penal codes I know (IANAL) do take age and frequency of crime into account before deciding what punishment is appropriate. I suspect, if taken to court, he would get away with a slap on the wrist.
Frankly I could care less. As I said, I am neutral on this with a very slight bias to "he's been punished enough".
As for the frequency being a factor, yes but only after it turns out that TC has posted guidelines.
If not then you can basically discount whatever TC writes about anything from now on.
All I read is that Mike got contacted by someone that was approached, but that if that had not happened this could have been going on (and may have gone on) for a long time.
And that's pretty bad.
Interesting. I wasn't aware of vaksel's TC promotion here. I can (now) see why he felt as he did.
Edit: http://twitter.com/loic/status/8666998987 - Loic gave some good advice, I can't get ahold of him but hopefully he'll take it.
TC yanking the content to avoid tainting is one thing but it would be good to know what the extent of this is.
Another thing that bothers me about this is that I can't see how a 17 year old given the keys to the kingdom would come up with such a scheme, that's hardly the first thing that crosses your mind when you start your career.
If the first instance of this was initiated by the company written about then that would change my whole idea about this.
I think the intern's response was a good start to what is going to be some time before his reputation is back to normal, but I think we need to see who this company was and blame fault there.
I haven't ever met the guy, but much worse things are done by 17-year-olds all the time. The punishment he is receiving seems adequate to me. Hopefully he learns from it, this post is a good first step.
The "in some way or another" part I dont like, the rest is heartfelt.
But maybe there's another side of the story.
Don't do the crime if you can't do the time.
And I'd make very sure that every other member of the reporting staff realizes their ass is grass in case of a repetition.
If it would have been once that would be one thing, but twice and possibly more is definitely grounds for termination.
The only thing that put a stop to this is that Arrington was approached directly by a person that he trusts, and the threat of someone scooping TC on their sloppy ethics (as if that's news).
When the dust settles, pick yourself up and tell yourself "I'll never be that stupid again". It's been a few yrs but I still tell myself that and it usually does wonders in knocking some sense into yourself.
If TC has posted guidelines on how its editors should behave and this person transgressed those guidelines then that's one thing.
But if TC does NOT have posted guidelines it would be comforting to know that those will be put in place after this incident, and that you will make those guidelines public.
Your lesson is that you can't just give anybody access to the TC cms without making sure they have their obligations and the consequences of transgressions spelled out.
Transparency is not spilling the beans after the fact (that's just damage control), it is making sure that the rules are known by all parties.
So that's why every professional organization spells it out explicitly.
Attempts to give items worth in excess of 'x' are to be reported to management, all gifts beyond a ball-point pen or a base-ball cap are to be refused.
That sort of thing.
Have read here: http://www.nytco.com/press/ethics.html
For how it is done in a real news outlet.
You do it for their protection too.
The typical errors of young-adulthood are not those of moral incompetence, but simple bad judgement.
If he initiated this kind of behaviour then I'm with you. If he was approached by a company first and they promised him some goodies in exchange for a write-up with the note that 'everybody does it' then you get in to a gray area.
After that he's definitely not in the clear for not going higher up and asking his boss about this, and TC is not in the clear for not spelling this sort of stuff out to journalists and interns alike.
As for ethics, TC reaps what it sows.
This is Exactly the type of error 17 year olds make.
>Adolescents frequently know the difference between right and wrong, but they have diminished capacities to understand and process information, to communicate, to abstract from mistakes and learn from experience, to engage in logical reasoning, to control impulses, and to understand others’ reactions. The psychological evidence suggests that immaturity of adolescent judgment is not under voluntary control.
>New imaging studies reveal patterns of brain development that extend into and beyond the teenage years.6,7
The writer has written several blog posts about milestones of important startups. I feel like I'm losing a sense of history here (though we can still find it on other blogs, google cache, etc).
Here are some of his articles that do not exists anymore:
I don't really understand how anyone can defend that kind of behavior here. With any luck, his reputation will be ruined and no one will do business with him again. He'll issue an apology - and why not, he has nothing to lose right?
From my experience, people with poor ethics tend to be serial offenders. There was a kid at my high school that was caught doctoring his transcript in hopes of getting into an ivy league school. He was caught and apologized. Earlier this year, as a senior in college, he was caught again -- this time forging e-mails from recruiters to create leverage for a better job opportunity on Wall Street.
Give him a break. And a second chance. Only call him a serial offender if he actually is one. Do you really believe that he should be punished for life ("no one will do business with him again")? What a fucked up attitude is that?
I hope he learns from this, and it kinda sucks my article is gone.
What a joke.
Folks, he's 17. This is a 17 year olds type of mistake. His brain isn't fully developed yet.
In a past era, it would have just been covered up.
And the newspaper in question would have just covered up the mistakes.
i'm not sure why everyone gets in a twist over free interships -- nobody's forcing you to participate. if everybody thought it was a rip-off, nobody would apply, and employers would be forced to pay the interns.
the fact is that the competition for an internship is so intense, that TC is giving a net benefit to the person who works there, even though they aren't getting paid monetarily.
TechCrunch isn't a newspaper, it's a blog, and an overly sensational one at that.
The tweet of his: http://twitter.com/danielbru/status/8523812779