Michael Arrington from technology news blog Tech Crunch has publicly apologised to readers after a junior reporter allegedly asked for compensation in the form of a MacBook Air in exchange for a positive blog post about an unidentified startup company.
Arrington admitted, "After an investigation we determined that the allegation was true. In fact, on at least one other occasion this intern was almost certainly given a computer in exchange for a post."
The 'intern', who we assume was carrying out what we would call unpaid 'work experience' in the UK, has also allegedly received computer equipment in exchange for posts on at least one other occasion, and has now been fired.
"This was not one of our full time writers," said Arrington in the frank apology, "and so the frequency of posts was light. Nevertheless, we’ve also deleted all content created by this person on our blogs. 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."
Arrington didn't mark this kid's posts as less worth reading than those by any fully-trained, fully conscious member of his bogging collective. And he should surely have been training an "intern". Now he's sacked the kid and told the Interweb all about it. Tsk.
It's a dire warning for employees everywhere. Most teenagers would be grateful for the chance to gain experience working for a well respected tech site, but if you give undertrained, inexperienced and underpaid people access to the cookie jar, don't expect it to be full of cookies at the end of the day.