On Friday TechCrunch intern Daniel Brusilovsky was let go from the blog amid allegations of payola. We don’t know the full story on it as we haven’t heard the story from all sides. When I was a PR person during the dot.com boom in the UK, I had reputable experienced journalists make demands on me for free hardware or money and it was up to me as a PR professional to turn them down.
Some journalists when loaned equipment for review would lose the equipment, or it would be ‘mailed’ back to the office or given to a courier and mysteriously vanish into the twilight zone. It was an urban legend amongst PR people that you could go and buy your review kit from Computer Exchange and that sexual favours were sometimes exchanged for coverage.
When you socialised with journalists you pick up the drinks or the meal tab. I’ve ran press events that took journalists to some of the world’s best restaurants or flew them to North America and Asia. I have also ‘punished’ journalists by ensuring they did not get news at the same time as their colleagues and kept review equipment out of their hands because they had previously been a royal pain-in-the-ass.
In the grand scheme of things, if Daniel is guilty as charged, it isn’t that big a deal. There are a number of extenuating circumstances:
Daniel is a talented 17-year old. Think back to how immature, self-centred and generally obnoxious you were at 17? I know I wasn’t a particularly pleasant person at that age. In comparison, looking at Daniel’s tweets and blog posts he is a grounded if precocious young man.
When you have someone that young in such an important position you need to put in place mechanisms to provide an overwatch to protect them from themselves. There also needs to be a mechanism put in place to allow someone of that age to make mistakes and learn from them.
Daniel is a smart kid and I am sure he will bounce back from this episode and have a great career ahead of him.