February 19, 2008 3:31 PM PST
CNET editor in chief steps down
Singh joined the company in 1996 to create News.com, which quickly became a leading authority in technology news at the height of the Internet boom. His responsibilities were expanded two years ago to include CNET's product reviews and other editorial operations, under the title of editor in chief and senior vice president of CNET.com.
"Last month marked my 12th anniversary here at CNET, and I realized I've outlasted the founders of this great company in tenure. I've decided it's time to take a breather, restore my health, and ponder what's next," Singh said in a letter to his staff. "A lot has changed and a lot will continue to change since I had the good fortune to conceive, create, and launch News.com. But I remain confident in the immutable law: users always reward media that put relentless focus on timely, insightful, and credible content."
Singh, 51, built a news staff that won scores of national journalism awards at a time when mainstream media were still skeptical of the Internet as a source of credible information. Under his stewardship, CNET News.com received honors from a broad array of journalistic organizations, including the Society of Professional Journalists, the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the Gerald Loeb Awards, the National Press Club, the Online News Association, and the Western Publications Association. Named the Best Online News Service by Editor & Publisher three years in a row, News.com won the coveted National Magazine Award for General Excellence in 2004. It was recipient of the first Webby Award given to any news organization.
"Jai has done more than anyone else in legitimizing online journalism. As an early pioneer in an online-only news operation, Jai demonstrated that, irrespective of the medium, good journalism was good journalism," said Shelby Bonnie, co-founder and former chief executive of CNET. "He demonstrated that you could be both timely and right."
Aggressive reporting was a hallmark of Singh's tenure. As a result, News.com itself has occasionally been the subject of national headlines, involving such controversies as Hewlett-Packard's surveillance of reporters, Google's boycott on speaking with News.com, and Microsoft's lawsuit over sealed court documents obtained from confidential sources.
"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," Joe Gillespie, executive vice president of CNET Networks, said in a staff e-mail. "Jai has been a trusted adviser 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."
Singh had an extensive background in technology reporting even before coming to CNET, having held senior editorial positions at such leading trade publications as PC Week and InfoWorld. He began working in online journalism as early as the mid-1980s, when he was responsible for a 24-hour news operation owned by the Readers Digest Corp.
Marketing Computers magazine, which thrice named Singh "the most influential online journalist," once described him as "the founding father" of online technology reporting.
"Jai has always stood for doing it right and getting it right," Bonnie said in an interview. "Anyone who cares about where this medium has come, and the richness of journalism now available, owes a debt of gratitude to Jai."Singh's duties will now be split between Dan Farber, the new editor in chief of News.com, and Scott Ard, who has been appointed editor in chief of CNET Reviews. Farber had been editor in chief of CNET's ZDNet, and Ard had been an executive editor in charge of CNET Reviews and News.com.
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