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Comments by YACCS
Monday, January 08, 2007

Why can't these people go away

Oh, Bill, I get another chance
to sell the internet to the

Esther Dyson

Welcome to Myself! [By Way of Disclosure]

I'm writing this post partly to introduce myself, and partly (I hope) as a comment of interest in itself. I recently almost got a job as a monthly columnist for a well-known national print publication. It would have been a lot of fun - and visibility - with a chance to reach even more readers than the Huffington Post, and to start conversations that need to be started.

However ... when I took a look at the contract, I couldn't sign the bit that says "without limitation ... take no money from potential news sources." Not "take no money from any subject of a column without disclosing your interest," but no money, period. The very thing that I thought made me an ideal commentator - I'm part of the IT/Internet industry, I know what it means to launch a product, see one fail, try to raise funding, negotiate a deal, manage relations with a competitor - those very experiences were disqualifying me.

I had thought that disclosure would be good enough. I like to hear what people with vested interests have to say; they probably know what they are talking about. Conflict of interest is a fraught topic. As we used to say when I worked on Wall Street: "Two [related] investments is a conflict; three is synergy!" Of course, I like to know where people are coming from; that gives me what I need to assess their biases and motivations.

Listen you guiless hack, maybe because you have made so much money from your CEO friends selling their bullshit, you don't get this, but when you work for a publication, any publication, you disclose who pays you, so they can trust what they tell you.

For the unfamiliar, Dyson is an old time snake oil salesman from back in the day. People used to pay $1200 a year for her insights. Her main skill was basically sucking up to CEO's and then telling them what they wanted to hear.
Dyson is no idiot, far from it. Her father is a nobel prize winning physicist, and she started her journalism career with Fortune. She was one of those digerati clods, who had this image of an internet which meshed nicely with corporate America.

She's now in the blogs, or on Huff Po, because as Dr. Phil Says, it's a soft place to land.

I find her arrogance amusing. She thinks she can work for a major publication and still invest and take money from sources?

If I took regular cash payments from Al Gore for "consulting" services, would you trust me? Certainly not as much as you would when I say I don't work for politicians. Why? Because, everything I said would be reflected in the mirror that I get paid by Al Gore.

David Pogue is a perfect example of how one can actually be ethical and have corporate relationships. He writes for the Times, but clearly has a relationship with Apple. They don't pay him, but he is the leading Apple expert in the popular computing press. He has an interest in
writing about and promoting Apple products, but they don't pay him.

Dyson, who should know better, seems to be confused by the concept of being loyal to, oh, the readers. When you write for a publication, you can't take money from the people you write about. Real simple.

posted by Steve @ 4:27:00 AM

4:27:00 AM

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