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In Journalism, the First Word Is Submission

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Last week, Walt Mossberg and his AllThingsD partner Kara Swisher learned something I was first taught in journalism school, and have had to re-learn repeatedly since then.

Always be careful of any job where the first word is submission.

After spending five years building AllThingsD into the most wide-awake part of The Wall Street Journal's online presence, Mossberg and Swisher have essentially been fired. News Corp. (NWS) will hire a new tech team, it will keep the name the two built, and it will try to bury them.

The good news is that isn't as easy in the age of the Web as it used to be.

During the first half of my journalism career, it was dead easy. When I was fired in 1983, in 1994, and in 1997, it meant I was out of work, off the beat, and that I was supposed to leave the field of journalism that was my first love.

But something happened in the mid-1990s, when the Web was spun. Because that last firing didn't result in a hard landing. It turned out I had my own reputation, and the Web let me continue publishing for basically nothing.

I used my reputation to make a great income through the dot-com bubble. Even after the bubble burst, I kept writing, and eventually made money again.

The one mistake I made, and that I continue to make, is that I didn't try to be "in business." I have tried, instead, to spend my days in front of the typewriter. I have remained dependent on editors and publishers.

Walt and Kara are going to be more fortunate.

The Web has made technology journalism a much more personality-driven, raucous place than it was before. It's not about the brand, it's about the people who run it. On the Web, people are brands, and brands are only as good as their people.

When CBS (CBS) bought CNet in 2008 it probably thought it was getting a virtual monopoly on tech journalism for its $1.8 billion. It wasn't. It's now very, very easy to compete in this sector, and the quality of what's produced drives the train.

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