Look, far be it from me to tell anyone how to do their job. Different strokes and whatnot. But I will say this: If you work for a website that covers the technology industry in a journalistic capacity, you should probably not also be employed by the most valuable tech company in the world, at the same time.
“Duh,” you’re saying, and I hear that. Still, earlier today, the Verge’s editor-in-chief, Nilay Patel, published a note on the site revealing that former deputy editor Chris Ziegler had taken a job at Apple in July, and then just ghosted. He remained mostly incommunicado throughout August and September, until someone had the good sense to say, “Um, where is the guy who ranks fourth on our masthead?”
Chris began working for Apple in July, but didn’t tell anyone at The Verge that he’d taken a new job until we discovered and verified his dual-employment in early September. Chris continued actively working at The Verge in July, but was not in contact with us through most of August and into September. During that period, in the dark and concerned for Chris, we made every effort to contact him and to offer him help if needed. We ultimately terminated his employment at The Verge and Vox Media the same day we verified that he was employed at Apple.
Obviously having an Apple employee on The Verge staff is a conflict of interest. Vox Media Editorial Director Lockhart Steele stepped in to conduct an independent review of The Verge’s work and staff interactions with Chris during the time he worked at Apple and Vox Media to determine if that conflict had manifested itself in any of our coverage or affected any of our editorial decisions.
After reviewing coverage, Slack logs, emails, and other interactions, Vox determined that their coverage had not been impacted. Still, kind of embarrassing that a high-ranking employee was collecting a paycheck for weeks.
On Twitter, Steele called the imbroglio “an unusual couple of weeks.” As recently as September 8, Ziegler was listed as one of two deputy editors on the site’s masthead. He was removed sometime between then and September 11, according to snapshots on Archive.org. The Verge’s big iPhone review went live on September 13, suggesting that the site’s editors figured out what was going on and remained silent as they published a review of Apple’s biggest hardware launch of the year.
Ziegler has not tweeted since August 8 and provided no statement on the matter.