TechCrunch Is Redefining ‘Editorial Independence’ After Selling To AOL

At the recent Disrupt SF event, TechCrunch announced it was being purchased by AOL for a rumored amount of $25 to $40 mil., which you think would be stated in the headline of the first article they published concerning this news.

Instead, we get a headline that reads: Tim Armstrong: We Got TechCrunch!, which honestly doesn’t really tell you much of anything. I’ll translate: Tim Armstrong is the CEO of AOL, “We” is AOL, “Got” means they purchased TechCrunch.

The only reason I went back and looked for this particular article at all was because someone mentioned that TechCrunch got bought by AOL casually at work. I mean, this is big news and I read TechCrunch fairly regularly so I thought I would have heard about it.

And I sort of did, at least the headline anyways. More specifically, I read it yesterday when the news was still fresh. I didn’t bother reading the post summary because I assumed it was some witty, unimportant article dealing with the whole “Super Angels” media circus editor Mike Arrington created last week.

I mean, “Tim Armstrong” is a very notable CEO, but left out of context it’s just another name. The whole damn headline is so vague and awful I wondered how on earth their editorial team allowed it to be published — considering the weight of the news itself.

Then I looked at who authored the post — Tim Armstrong himself.

So, it probably did irk (or would have irked) a few editors on the site, but seeing as changing it would risk pissing off the new boss of your organization, well I can see their logic in letting it slide.

The horrible thing about this particular post is that it unintentionally frames what people fear will happen to an AOL-TechCrunch. The site has standards, except for at certain times and for certain things, which apparently includes letting your new CEO think he’s recognized well enough to write a headline like “Tim Armstrong: We Got TechCrunch”.

Editorial Independence must start *after* that was posted.