Being generous, this is slightly above despicable behavior. Both Arrington and Siegler left TC because of their involvement in the CrunchFund and the obvious conflicts of interest that arise when you report on companies you invest in. Neither of them have abandoned any duties at CrunchFund.
AOL and TC have blatantly tried to mislead the public by initially dismissing them and then rehiring them after the hoopla has toned down. Furthermore, the only lip service they give to this possible conflict of interests is a pandering platitude designed to shove the issue under the rug. And I guess if you complain you aren't smart enough to tell the difference between a shill and a journalist? 
This is deception bordering on fraud, as I have no doubt whatsoever that AOL/TC/Arrington/Siegler will now use this new platform to make more money via the Crunch Fund.
It's sickening to imagine the adults in charge could have ever assumed this would be even close to a good idea.
 ("we also believe our readers are smart enough to put these columns into context")
Edit: Am I being too much of a conspiracy theorist to notice this was announced around the same time as the iPad Mini was announced?
Uhm. Mike wrote about companies he had interest in in TC from the very beginning, with various levels of attention to disclaimers about it.
AOL as the corporate parent in TC is an investor in CrunchFund, so it's not like Mike and Sieglers absence from TC has somehow meant that AOL hasn't had an interest in TC writing favorably about the same companies as the two of them either.
I don't see how this actually materially changes anything. You're free to dislike that. They're free to write. You don't need to pay attention to the,.
I'm not kidding. I'm done. We're going into reruns.
What a... what a jerk. I've had it with Mike Arrington. He is the most trollish person I've ever worked with.
While some of my favorite tech posts was written by Arrington and MG, I'm not too excited for their return.
Call it strife, call it drama, call it whatever you want, I have much less of it without those two. This is just a reason to avoid TechCrunch now.
You see, Journalism has advanced to a huge extent in the online world. In the real world, a journalist would have to travel places, arrange interviews, and so forth. It's much much hardwork than 'online journalism'. Organizations like TechCrunch and Gizmodo are basically thieves. They don't have to travel anywhere to get the news, they just 'steal' it from goodwill communities like Hackernews and Reddit and make the titles misleading or 'attractive' so they can get more clicks and add bias to it, insert ads wherever possible, and write articles favoring companies that sponsor them. I can list you so many articles that Gizmodo spins up from Hackernews. Less than 10% of their blogposts are fair and original. The rest are just rip-off from non-profit communities like HN. That is just plain wrong.
TechCrunch has never been afraid of admitting being sponsored by companies, infact, Matt has once admitted that he was sponsored by Apple to write a post favoring their technology over a competitors' based on meaningless grounds.
And Gizmodo, needless to say, are pro-apple, no matter what. What is so bad about these organizations are that they are unfair. They are deceiving people. They spend initially huge amounts of time and effort to build this trust with their audience and they just misuse it by writing unfair articles in favor of companies sponsoring them later. They are killing fair journalism. That is just plain wrong.
These organizations are just a shame to Journalism itself. As a journalist, your duty is to report the news as it is, not what you think of the news. No one gives a fuck to what you think of the news. We all have our own opinions, right? Especially infront of a huge audience, there is a moral obligation to be honest, unbiased. You will never find such ethics with TechCrunch or Gizmodo. For example, recently on Gizmodo, you will find pro-Apple articles suggesting comparisons between every single device on this planet concluding Apple is superior in all aspects, but, never any of its disadvantages. iOS was hacked recently (Security hole). When was the last time you read that on TechCrunch or Gizmodo? You didn't, because they didn't write it. Why didn' they write it?
That is why I am not a fan of MG Seigler or Jesus Diaz or anyone else from these shady organizations. They are just a shame to the Journalism community and they share our knowledge and profit out of it by wrong means. They think they are intelligent, but an average HN reader has more knowledge about tech than these biased, paid writers.
I hope TC falls off soon.
As a former print journalist, I will just say that what is "just the news" and what is "honest, unbiased" has a coincidentally strong correlation with the reader's personal biases.
Case in point, you seem to have selection bias:
> For example, recently on Gizmodo, you will find pro-Apple articles suggesting comparisons between every single device on this planet concluding Apple is superior in all aspects, but, never any of its disadvantages. iOS was hacked recently (Security hole). When was the last time you read that on TechCrunch or Gizmodo? You didn't, because they didn't write it. Why didn' they write it?
Doing a quick Google search of "Gizmodo" and "Apple", I find quite a few negative-Apple stories. Of the top of my head, I remember that Gizmodo was the publication that leaked the iPhone4 prototype and pushed the Antennagate story hard...not exactly stories that a pro-Apple publication would pursue.
The first type is the good type: the LA Times is a perfect example. Sorry to bring this up, but it is a great example: the Boy Scouts perversion files were released last week: thousands of documents about pedophiles in the Boy Scouts. The LA Times took that data, sorted it, and made it available in a map interface, with searchable text fields and all the documents available behind it. That's the future of journalism: reporting plus data analysis and presentation.
TC, on the other hand, is the bad type of new journalism. This is the type where the only thing that matters is timing, not accuracy. In the online world, most news outlets fall into this category. They don't care about facts or the people they're reporting on, all they care about is having the story first, even if only by a few seconds.
Engadget has a guy that is the World record holder for world's fastest blogger. They're really proud of this. I think it's actually a horrible shame and missing the point.
Anyway, people read the second type of journalism a lot more than the first. And that really sucks.
The easiest way to spot a real journalist is if he's on the phone. Real reporters spend all day on the phone talking to people, not on the web reading blogs and emails. I doubt TC ever picks up the phone to call anyone, except to return calls of the "WTF did you write" variety.
AOL has simply waited for the uproar to die down to restate Arrington/Siegler... insulting, frankly.
Do you honestly expect Average Joe to go to a TC article written by Arrington (aka the Founder of TC) and not associate him with TC? Not conflate his opinions with TC?
I don't care what they preface their columns with... there's nothing they can do to avoid people associating their opinions and positions with TC, even subconsciously. Even as independents over the past couple months people still associate what they say with TC.
Of course, AOL knows this perfectly well and went ahead anyway.
Reddit sells ads and subscriptions. And I don't see how you can "steal" from aggregators who just link to content other people have created.
Are they conflicted? Yeah, of course they are, and we will be transparent on that issue at all times. But, we also believe our readers are smart enough to put these columns into context and understand the impact of CrunchFund’s investing on the editorial.
That's like soda companies saying that their consumers are smart enough to recognize that the sugar content in their drinks can have adverse effects on their health (without mentioning neither their tremendous and ubiquitous marketing efforts, nor the way their drinks are chemically designed to cause overconsumption)
Perhaps I could superficially understand that there is a conflict, but that's about it.
However given an investing role, you hear about things that you could not otherwise, and get to break stories.
No, not you, Jay Kirsch. Just the rest of us.
These guys are really bad for the startup ecosystem because they are not intellectual and move the focus from the story/startup to themselves.
I'm not sure what to make of the news to be quite honest. All that drama...much ado about nothing?
There always seems to be some air of schoolboy drama surrounding TechCrunch.
And I'm sure that this news will spur some, too. Who cares?
Regardless of anyone's opinion of him, he's been a big factor in shaping the startup press world.
Do you really think that it is okay that they are allowed to be in journalism in an area where they both have financial stake in companies they report on?
Everyone's biased. Read any political editorial. They are clear with their biases. There's a slant to everything you have a personal investment in (whether financial or just sheer interest in the topic). Truly objective journalism is very rare nowadays. An ersatz veneer of objectivity is common but that's more insidious, IMHO.
If they disclose it, yes. Journalism is no sacred cow. It's as scummy and scabby as any industry. The fact they disclose their conflicts of interest puts them above any journalist who has been taken for dinner or drinks by a PR flack or big company or flown out on a press junket (pathetically common, rarely disclosed to readers).
hn is as much about the personalities as it is the products and companies.
You should read non-technical tech blogs through the same lens as you read the magazines in the grocery checkout. Could you ever take seriously a complaint against People about a conflict of interest? I hope not.
* crickets *
Commander Taco returns to Slashdot!
* more crickets *
There are some things that can't be undone.