CNET Changes Quarterbacks: Dan Farber Takes Over As Editor In Chief

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Big news at CNET today – editor in chief Jai Singh is out, and Dan Farber, most recently the editor in chief of CNET-owned ZDNet, is taking over. In his new role, Dan will oversee the editorial content and user experience for CNET News. Dan has posted a brief note (and his last on that blog) about his new position on Between The Lines.

Dan has been a tech journalist since 1981, so he’s seen it all. But he’s also now a prolific blogger (and he runs the ZDNet blogging network), so he knows all about new media, too.

He takes the reigns at CNET during a troubled time for the company. Traffic, at least according to Comscore, has slumped for their news properties. Private equity firms have made an effort to take control of the board of directors, and their CFO was fired earlier this month (Update: CNET is asking for a correction, saying he resigned, although our sources say he was fired).

It’s clear the housekeeping is ongoing, and they could not have hired a stronger editor in chief than Dan Farber (their new CFO, Zander Lurie, is also a very strong deal and finance guy). CEO Neil Ashe may finally be putting together an executive team that can turn CNET around.

I count 36 people writing content for CNET. Just for the record, they all now report to a blogger.

Dan, who describes himself as a “player/coach” says he will continue to write as well as manage the team.

Update: email to CNET staff from Joe Gillespie, EVP of CNET:

As you all saw from Jai’s email, our long-time friend and colleague is leaving CNET to focus on restoring his health and to “ponder what’s next.” It is always hard to say farewell to one person while welcoming another, so I’ll do my best here to give both our colleagues the recognition they deserve.

First of all, I’m very excited to announce that Dan Farber has been appointed the new Editor-in-chief of CNET News.com. As many of you know, with more than 20 years of experience as an editor and journalist, Dan is one of the most insightful and articulate observers out there today on the world of technology and new media.

I also want to recognize Jai and his countless contributions to our organization as well as CNET Networks. For 12 years, the name Jai Singh has been synonymous with CNET. His dedication to building a world-class news organization has made News.com one of the most credible and well-respected media entities today, with many of the industry’s most talented reporters and journalists under its roof. In addition, at the time of the Redball reunion, Jai took over as Editor-in-Chief of CNET Reviews. Over the past two years, his achievements have included the creation of the SLA, the launch of Crave and Webware, and improvements to the timeliness to the CNET product reviews process. Beyond CNET, Jai has been a trusted advisor and friend to many people in this company, and his leadership and integrity have contributed to CNET Networks’ growth into a leading online media company with some of the world’s most important and influential brands.

On a personal note, I want to thank Jai for his dedication, support and friendship during the past two years that he and I have worked together. I wish him all the best in his future endeavors and continued success. I also hope he’ll stop by so I can take him out for a cheeseburger every once and a while.

At the same time, I could not be more excited to have Dan at the helm of News.com. There is no one better suited to take the great news organization that Jai has built into the future. During his time as vice-president of editorial at CNET Networks and editor in chief of ZDNet, Dan has built ZDNet into the biggest voice in business technology and developed the ZDNet Blog Network. With over 30 bloggers, the ZDNET Blog Network includes some of the most authoritative and well-respected voices in the IT community.

I am also very pleased to announce some additional changes within the organization. On the editorial side, Scott Ard has been appointed editor-in-chief of CNET Reviews. Scott has held a variety of roles at CNET, including news editor for News.com and VP of content for CNET.com. Scott has also helped streamline the publishing process and instituted the SLA that has resulted in full reviews for key products being posted within a day of release. Scott’s experience on both the news and reviews side will ensure that CNET continues to produce the most timely, credible and relevant product reviews in the industry.

In addition, Erik Weigel has been named vice president of content operations and Mark Larkin has been named vice president of programming. Both of these guys have played instrumental roles in the development of CNET over the years. On the operations side, Eric and his team will continue the great work he’s already done to ensure that we are optimizing our resources for success. Over the past two years, Mark has taken CNET TV from concept to reality. As we saw today with the launch of CNET TV 2.0 and the closed captioning feature, the site continues to be an industry leader in the development of original video programming. As VP of programming, Mark will expand his responsibilities beyond CNET TV to oversee the front door as well as community features.

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