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Yesterday, TechCrunch editor Michael Arrington disclosed that he’s once again “actively investing” in Silicon Valley startups. He announced that he’s an investor in a few startups and that he’s also invested money with venture capital firms Benchmark and SoftTech.
He wrote that he plans to disclose his conflict of interest when he writes about his investments.
We asked AOL if it is corporate policy that journalists are allowed to invest in the companies and industries they write about.
The answer: No, they are not allowed to do that, unless they are named Michael Arrington.
Here’s the full statement:
As a rule, in order to avoid conflicts of interests, AOL Huffington Post Media Group editors, writers, and reporters may not have a financial interest in a company or industry that they regularly cover. This does not include investments in mutual funds, money market funds, or other similar investments. If an editor or reporter is assigned to cover a company outside his or her usual beat, and has a financial interest in that company, including owning stock, he or she may maintain the investment but must transparently disclose it.
Michael Arrington operates from a unique position. He was an investor in technology companies and start-ups before he started TechCrunch, and his extensive knowledge of, and involvement with Silicon Valley is one of the very things that has made TechCrunch a must-read site. TechCrunch is committed to transparency. Michael Arrington has written about the guidelines he follows — that he rarely writes about companies in which he is an investor, and that when he does, he clearly discloses this information. The same rules apply when TechCrunch’s writers cover these companies.
We talked to Arrington himself about all this and will have that post up soon.
Disclosure: SAI competes with TechCrunch.