MEDIA

Tech Journalist Also Worked For Apple Without Telling Editors

The Verge acknowledged an obvious "conflict of interest" in founding editor Chris Ziegler's moonlighting.

The Verge fired a founding editor this month after discovering he’d secretly started a job at Apple in July without notifying anyone of the conflict of interest. 

Chris Ziegler “continued actively working” at the technology site in July despite simultaneous employment with Apple, a company regularly covered by The Verge’s newsroom, editor-in-chief Nilay Patel revealed on Friday. 

“Obviously having an Apple employee on The Verge staff is a conflict of interest,” Patel wrote in a message to readers. 

“The circumstances of Chris’ departure from The Verge raised ethical issues which are worth disclosing in the interests of transparency and respect for our audience,” he added. 

Ziegler, who helped launch The Verge in 2011, was incommunicado with the editorial staff for weeks in August and September before The Verge verified that he was moonlighting with Apple, the tech giant based in Cupertino, California, according to Patel.

Ziegler’s absence worried colleagues at The Verge. “During that period, in the dark and concerned for Chris, we made every effort to contact him and to offer him help if needed,” Patel wrote. 

The breach of journalism ethics sparked a review of Ziegler’s work that revealed nothing amiss in his newsroom decisions, according to Patel. The review was led by parent company Vox Media’s editorial director Lockhart Steele.

This is how Patel described Steele’s findings:

“That review wrapped up this week. After interviews with more than a dozen Verge and Vox Media employees who worked closely with Chris, and a careful review of emails, Slack logs, and various login histories, Lockhart determined that Chris’ conflict of interest did not have any impact on editorial decisions or journalism produced at The Verge or elsewhere in Vox Media. Chris did not attempt to steer any coverage towards or away from Apple, and any particular decisions he helped make had the same outcomes they would have had absent his involvement.”

Ziegler is listed on The Verge masthead as one of 13 people on the site’s “founding editorial team” when it was launched in 2011. A Verge article in April listed Ziegler as deputy editor.

Neither Ziegler nor Apple responded to The Huffington Post. 

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