Blogs, Conflict of Interest and Disclosure

For a few years there have been complaints by many in the media that bloggers are being paid by companies to write positive stories. For example, car companies and political parties have been found to have paid bloggers to write favorable articles about them. There are many bloggers who get special favors from companies they write about.

Media companies such as TMC have had to deal with this conflict of interest problem for years. Do advertisers get written about more than non-advertisers? In general our goal and the goal of other reputable and well-respected media companies is to have fair coverage of the entire industry.

Studies have shown by the way that in general advertisers almost certainly get more coverage than non-advertisers. This applies to many forms of media. Part of the reason of course is that editors and reporters too are swayed by ads and are more likely to write about companies they are familiar with.

This topic comes up often in the VoIP industry. In my many discussions with executives in the communications market the following remarks have been made: Any time you see excessive writing about a company or continuous glowing remarks about a specific conference in someone’s blog, that blogger is suspect. This isn’t my opinion mind you, but others often tell me they see through some blogger’s "objectivity."

This topic was worth writing about today because today David Isenberg was singled out in a derogatory article about bloggers and conflict of interest. Here is David’s point of view on the matter. As a side note, David is beyond famous in telecom and has been an esteemed contributor in TMC publications for quite some time.

Yesterday I blogged about Google and mentioned I purchased the stock the same day. Here is the exact statement:

Disclosure: I occasionally purchase or sell short the companies that I write about. I may not always mention such purchase in my articles or blog posts. Today I happened to purchase shares of Google.

I am not perfect but reader trust is something TMC has had since 1972 and I am not about to lose decades of credibility for any reason. Occasionally, us writers who are people after all, make relationships and favor some companies due to a variety of factors that aren’t necessarily conflicts of interest but just part of the human process of interaction. The same way you might go to one restaurant more often than another we may call one source or write about one company more than another equivalent one.

What I am saying is that no one is perfect and by the same token you should be on the lookout for suspicious writing and if it is too suspicious, make sure to take it with a grain or two of salt.

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