A Tech Crunch reporter published an e-mail from Moviefone/AOL representative asking her to "tone down" one of her articles. The TechCrunch reporter, Alexia Tsotsis, explained that she had "interviewed Duncan Jones and Jake Gyllenhaal at SXSW, at the press junket for their movie Source Code."
The e-mail from AOL/Moviefone said that Summit thought Tsotsis' SourceCode article "was a little snarky and wondered if any of the snark can be toned down."
Tsotsis explained that she posted the e-mail for a few reasons: One reason, she wrote, is because after AOL bought TechCrunch, TechCrunch "made a loose promise" to let readers know if AOL tried to influence its reporting.
LA Observed recommended that this incident is noted "in the corner of your mind where you're a least a little concerned about editorial standards at the new AOL, and what they might mean for local news coverage at the Patch sites and at AOL acquisitions like the Huffington Post and Tech Crunch."
Moviefone's editor-in-chief Patricia Chui responded to the controversy noting that the person behind the e-mail to TechCrunch "was not acting in an editorial capacity," but rather "as an intermediary between the studios and editorial."
Chui defended Moviefone's e-mail to TechCrunch and explained that the e-mail didn't require content to be changed -- it was just a publicist's request being passed on. If TechCrunch decided to stick with its original copy, Moviefone would just tell the publicist that, Chui wrote.
"We take editorial integrity seriously at Moviefone, and it's painful to be depicted as a pawn of the studios when that is emphatically not the case," Chui stated, calling TechCrunch's suggestion that it was being interfered with editorially, "completely unfair."