Opinion: Page (1) of 2 - 05/09/02 Email this story to a friend. email article Print this page (Article printing at MyDmn.com).print page facebook

Where The Reader Is King

We're in this for you! By Charlie White
Many times, readers send me email, wanting to know how I review software and hardware, how I make editorial decisions, what kind of relationship I have with our advertisers, and whether I am beholden to anybody. Sometimes, if I write an article or editorial that a reader disagrees with, I'll be accused of being bought by one manufacturer or another. The following editorial explains what influence vendors and readers have over what I do, how I decide what to write about, and for whom I write.

First of all, let me dispel a myth that many readers seem to cling to for some reason: I am not paid by any manufacturer, vendor, or software developer to write anything. Sure, look over there to your right and to the top, middle and bottom of this Web page and you'll see ads, paid for by vendors. But as an editorial writer and reviewer, I make it my job to not pay any attention to who those advertisers are. Here at Digital Media Net we have, as any credible journalistic enterprise does, a "wall" between our ad sales staff and our editorial staff. We call it "separation of church and state," where we like to envision editorial as the church. So, if I am reviewing a product of a company that happens to advertise on our sites, I will write the same review I would if that company didn't advertise here. By the way, it would be difficult for me to favor only companies who advertise with us, since almost every digital video company you've ever heard of has advertised on our sites at one time or another. And, they don't threaten to stop advertising if I write something negative about their companies. That's because they know that the editorial content on these sites is what's commonly called in the business "uncontrolled media." A famous politician once commented on uncontrolled media: "As long as they spell my name right." Sometimes negative coverage is better then none.

An editorial story is the most valuable publicity a company can get, and unless they're just stupid, green, stubborn or a combination of the three, they rarely do anything to jeopardize the possibility of getting coverage like that. Of course, they will call me immediately if I get my facts wrong (which I strive to never do), but if I'm right, I won't change my story. Sometimes, vendor complaints about an article amount to what basketball coaches are doing when they yell at the referee: That striped-shirt will think more carefully about making that "bad call" the next time. But I won't be swayed by tactics like that if I'm in the right. Beyond that, company representatives are usually extremely cordial to us writers -- it's the sales people they yell at, but we never hear about that on this side of "the wall."

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Related Keywords:how we make editorial decisions, advertisers, beholden, article, editorial, disagrees, manufacturer, influence, vendors, readers, Charlie White, NDA, non-disclosure agreement

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