Since its founding, TechCrunch has maintained (and enjoyed) a close relationship with the industry it covers. They’re rarely bothered by how this “looks,” as could be seen today, with their proud announcement that one of their new contributors will also continue to work for one of the largest technology companies in the world.
Jay Donovan covers emerging technologies and startups for TechCrunch. He’s been part of the TechCrunch family since way back in 2009 when he became a part-time writer for CrunchGear (the former gadget blog of TechCrunch). He just couldn’t leave and has been writing for us a bit ever since, but will now do it much more often.
Jay is also Associate Director of Strategy at creative agency Resource/Ammirati, An IBM Company, where he leads Innovation and Strategy projects for the company’s large list of clients. You can find him on Instagram and Twitter @getdonovan.
TechCrunch has operated a fast-turning revolving door between industry and journalism for many years now, though it’s typically been writers moving into venture capital. What’s less common is someone moving from the tech/advertising sector into writing. Even less common is to not move at all, but hold both jobs simultaneously. As mentioned above, Donovan is an “Associate Director of Strategy” at Resource/Ammirati, which is a division of IBM. TechCrunch has written about IBM ten times in the past month. Moreover, as an advertising company, Resource/Ammirati works with startups and platforms covered in TechCrunch, such as Snapchat and Birchbox.
I asked Panzarino about the potential for conflicts of interest and other ethical implications of a technology writer working in advertising, and he responded thusly:
As someone whose passion was writing long before I could make it my full time career I always like to support giving people a platform, just like I was given one. From an editorial point of view I think that varied perspectives and backgrounds are more important than optics. The more of those that we include in the discussion the better as long as the appropriate context is given — and I believe our readers feel the same.
(In the spirit of full disclosure, I’ll admit that the use of the term “optics” was introduced by me when I posed my question—it’s a dumb term that I hate, and I apologize)
Donovan did not return a request for comment.