This just in: A tipster tells us Jai Singh, a senior vice president at CNET and the founding editor-in-chief of News.com, has quit. Dan Farber, currently editor of CNET's ZDNet opinion site, will take over News.com, but there's no word on replacements for Singh's other roles.When Singh launched News.com for CNET in 1996, his reporters had trouble getting their calls returned. PR flacks, unused to the idea of online news, ranted about supposed violations of embargoes. It was, in short, a rule-breaking, trouble-making font of real and valuable information. Singh's achievement: News.com has become part of the mainstream media establishment. His downfall: Young readers now view it as such, as boring and dutiful as the tech trades it made irrelevant.
And for CNET's editors and reporters? The departure has to be unsettling, coming on the heels of Jeff Gerstmann's ouster as editorial director of Gamespot, amid charges that the videogame site issued advertiser-friendly reviews. Singh himself was charged with investigating the mess at Gamespot. If Singh is not replaced by an executive with similar clout and independence, many will take it as another sign CNET management on the business side is exerting a tighter grip on its editorial.