Ah, AOL -- just when it looked like you were about to slip into boring mediocrity, you surprise us yet again with your antics.
First comes the news that in AOL's latest reorganization (No. 247 in a series), the various editorial components have been broken out into "towns." Forbes blogger Jeff Bercovici reports:
There's a News Town, a Women's Town, a Family Town, a Finance Town and so forth. The "Towns" concept isn't just a metaphor: Employees have been physically relocated into clusters, with signs overhead marking each town and its "population."
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It gets better. As the Business Insider reports, former TechCrunch CEO Heather Harde is now "co-mayor" of Tech Town. Hey, it could be worse; she could be co-Mayor of Tiny Town or possibly Munchkinville. (I gotta wonder: Does this work like Foursquare? If the janitor checks into Tech Town more often than Harde, does he get to be co-mayor?)
Still that silliness pales to the spitting match between Arrington and his new "sister" publication, Engadget, also owned by AOL.
When AOL announced it had swallowed TechCrunch last September, few observers believed Michael Arrington would last the three years he had on his contract.
Turns out it was might be closer to three months. This week, Arrington slammed the gadget blog, which has been operated by AOL for the last five years, calling it "a plasticized caricature of a real blog" and accusing it of being "unethical" and lacking a "moral compass." (This from a guy who's been dogged by ethical complaints about TechCrunch coverage for years. It appears Arrington's moral compass points directly to his wallet. Maybe he keeps a magnet in there.)
Arrington's big "ethical" complaint about Engadget? It uses Google ads to drive traffic. Yes, seriously. Never mind that it was almost certainly someone at AOL's marketing department who placed the ads, or that countless Web publications do this, or that there could well be AOL-placed ads for TechCrunch out there for all we know. In Arrington's fervent imagination, "real blogs" don't do this.
Here's a news flash for Mikey: Engadget isn't a "real blog" any more, and neither is TechCrunch. Sure, they may use blogging software and publish in reverse chronological order, but that's where the resemblance ends. They're really 24/7 news services for the tech industry -- kind of like the geeky kid version of the AP, only without the requirement to name their sources, do original reporting, or confirm stories are actually true before they're published.