Thursday, March 25, 2010

My Speculation on the John Carney Firing

Foster Kramer at Village Voice writes:
Gawker Media owner Nick Denton Tweeted earlier this evening, asking if the rumors he'd heard about Business Insider editor John Carney's firing were true. Well, Nick, here's your answer: John Carney, managing editor of financial news and gossip vertical Clusterstock at Business Insider, was let go this afternoon by B.I. owner Henry Blodget, we've confirmed with sources familiar with the matter. going to take quite a few people by surprise. Nobody from the company we spoke with certainly saw it coming, either.

It didn't really surprise me. Here's my thinking on it and I have no inside information. But, I do have the perspective of a blog owner and a few things I saw recently led me more than once to think, "I wonder what Blodget thinks about this."

First, I want to say that I think Carney is a very talented writer. I always looked for his byline because I knew it would be a thoughtful, intelligent piece of writing. In fact, I considered his work so interesting that I also followed him on twitter.

Reading his Business Insider posts and his twitter posts are the only places I ever learned anything about Carney, but they led me to the following conclusions. He took his job as a 9 to 5 gig. It's only speculation, but quite frankly, I looked a lot for his byline, but I didn't see it as much as I thought I should have. I remember Blodgett writing a piece about not wanting 9 to 5 workers at a start-up.

On the other end at BI,  there is Joe Weisenthal, who I have given a hard time to here at EPJ from time to time, but the man is a worker and a machine. He lives and breathes Business Insider 24-7.  You can tell. Blodgett is lucky to have him.

Because of Carney's Twitter account it was obvious he was not thinking Business Insider 24-7. In fact, and I may be off on this, I think there are times that he has tweeted, while working, wondering where to hang out that night.

Blodget and I are probably in the same age bracket. I would see some of Carney's tweet's, and as someone from a different generation (Blodget's generation), wonder, does this kid ever think about Business Insider? Again, Carney is super talented and I may be way off base, but just watching Carney's tweets,which included both personal and business, the personal (at least the impression I got) were far more extensive. It seemed, rightly, or wrongly, that his mind was on other things and not business. You really got the sense, accurate or not, that Carney was coasting at BI.

Let this be a lesson for you tweeters out there. If you tweet your personal life, it makes a lot of sense to tweet under a pen name. There is no way a boss is going to understand a balanced life, if you are out and about all the time. To a boss, the scale is always going to look like it is too much personal and not enough business. NEVER LET YOUR BOSS SEE YOUR TWEETS ABOUT YOUR PERSONAL ACTIVITIES. There is no upside.

The twitter thing with Carney, I bet probably agitated Blodget, but what must have sent him through the roof was another incident that from the outside looked to me like Carney was asking to be fired.

Om March 4, Carney tweeted:

Clusterstock investigative team has uncovered a shady scam involving Wall Street Investment banking and CNBC. Breaking tomorrow.

This sounded big to me. CNBC involved in a shady scam with a Wall Street investment firm. Carney then took the tweet down, but it was so powerful of a comment that I posted on it, here.

It turned out the story was pretty bogus. A cable station that ran the CNBC channel, during it's air time (having nothing to do with CNBC) was running some kind of edgy ad for an edgy firm. On a scale of 1 to 10, with ten being a major scoop, this was, and I am being generous, a 2.

But I think what may have sent Blodget through the roof is the timing of Carney's "breaking" story. You see, it was done on the same day as a real Business Insider breaking story that Blodgett appears to have spent real money and months of research on. Business Insider broke the story that the Facebook founder may have broken into the private emails of some others at Harvard that were involved in the launching of a site similar to Facebook.

Here's Blodget explaining the effort and major considerations that went into that story. It was a very important story for Blodget. If I was Blodget, I would have certainly been furious at Carney's attempt at trying to dilute what was a real breaking story at Business Insider. Blodget was playing major league baseball with his scoop and Carney was trying to steal some of the spotlight on that scoop with his sandbox play. At least that's what it seemed to me.

Again, I may be way off on why Carney was fired, but these observations that I have noted are all things that crossed my mind in recent weeks from a being casually aware of a competitor of sorts. It's why I am not  surprised by the firing.

As for John, at this point, I wish him all the best. He is really super talented. Any publisher willing to take a shot on John at a time when he is  mmight be more work focused could end up with quite a talent.

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