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Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Carney's Firing: The Other Side of the Story?

Larry Ribstein and the good Professor Bainbridge are bemoaning last week's firing of John Carney from Business Insider.  Ribstein, Bainbridge and others are all citing this story by Foster Kamer as to the reason for the firing:

Blodget wanted more sensational, pageview-grabbing posts and click-friendly features like galleries, while Carney wanted to put forth breaking news scoops that told a longer narrative. It was also speculated that Carney, one of the highest paid members on the Business Insider staff, wasn't bringing the traffic numbers to sufficiently satisfy Henry Blodget, given his high profile within the financial reporting world, but that Clusterstock's homepage had the highest traffic of all the verticals at Business Insider during Carney's tenure, and that his own stories generated "tons of [unique visitors]."

This version of the story is obviously highly sympathetic to Carney; he wanted "breaking news scoops that told a longer narrative," while Blodget wanted "more sensational, pageview-grabbing posts."  But from my perspective, Carney's problem was that "longer narrative": he consistently tried to bend news stories around to an extremely conservative/libertarian perspective.  The latest example is this bit of regulatory nihilism: "Sorry America, The Latest Round Of Financial Regulation Reform Won’t Fix Anything."  And frankly, that post seems rather restrained when compared with "Lying Government Humiliated In The Very First Backdating Conviction" and "How The Government Used The CRA To Push Crappy Lending Standards."

Just to be clear, I'm not saying Carney should have been fired.  And I'm not saying he won't come back and be very popular at another site -- he probably will.  I'm just pointing out that some readers may have been turned off by the overly-politicized message, as commenters at Felix Salmon opined:

Even with Carney’s thousand word essays on Lehman, I found most of what he wrote to be knee jerk, ad hoc advocacy that was “shallow and vapid.” Clusterstock may be less of a resource without him, but that doesn’t necessarily imply that it was much of a resource with him. I can’t imagine where Blodget is headed if Carney was his upside connection to quality journalism…

And:

I agree – I stopped reading it because of Carney and Weisenthal, not the reverse. They have a rather annoying tendency to exhibit knee-jerk political views which were more panic-driven than thoughtful. If I want that, I can go to FoxNews, not a blog that’s supposed to intelligently digest financial news.

UPDATE: Professor Bainbridge responds: "He's the John Stossel of financial news and that's a very good thing."

Posted by Matt Bodie on March 30, 2010 at 12:52 PM in Blogging, Corporate | Permalink

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