Intern fired in TechCrunch brouhaha

Remember that Seinfeld episode where George sleeps with the cleaning lady at his new job and then pleads ignorance: “Was that wrong? Because no one told me it was when I was hired,” he complains, before being fired.

Well, it’s not clear ignorance was the issue at technology blog TechCrunch, but a serious infraction of journalistic ethics led to “You’re fired!” Donald Trumpish moment.

In a post yesterday entitled “An Apology To Our Readers,” TechCrunch publisher Michael Arrington said he [terminated an unnamed intern ]( asking for and receiving a MacBook Air notebook in exchange for writing a blog post about the company.

Because the intern is under 18, Arrington, a lawyer himself, said in the post that he’d been advised by council not to name him. The site also deleted every post written by him, adding “We are fairly certain that most of the posts weren’t tainted in any way, but to be sure we’ve removed every word written by this person on the TechCrunch network.”

Today, the intern, Daniel Brusilovsky, came clean in [his own blog]( headed “The Line Was Crossed.”

Lawyers may have got to Brusilovsky as well who didn’t actually say what he did in the post: “In some way or another, a line was crossed that should have never been. At this time, I do not want to go into details, but I will publicly say that I am truly sorry ….”

The timing is truly awful for Brusilovsky, a prime mover of the [Teens in Tech conference]( slated for this weekend at Google’s offices in San Francisco.

“At this point, I’d like to take some time to myself after the Teens in Tech Conference, to focus on school, and enjoy being a teenager,” Brusilovsky said in his blog.

Former *Businessweek* technology reporter Richard Brandt told me this issue highlights the problem of hiring inexperienced writers to be journalists.

“That’s the problem with bloggers who tend not to know very much about journalistic standards,” he said. “At least TechCrunch took the right approach once they figured out what was going on.”

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