110 Comments

Summary:

Earlier today Valleywag published a post suggesting that Microsoft paid me (and a number of other bloggers) off to recite their corporate slogan. It is a serious charge, one I take very seriously. I have been upfront about my ethics and propriety in my reporting, so […]

Earlier today Valleywag published a post suggesting that Microsoft paid me (and a number of other bloggers) off to recite their corporate slogan. It is a serious charge, one I take very seriously.

I have been upfront about my ethics and propriety in my reporting, so a finger pointed in that direction is something I must respond to. So without making any excuses, to my readers, if participation in Microsoft’s advertising campaign has made you doubt my integrity even for a second, then I apologize.

I have requested Federated Media, our sales partners, suspend the campaign on our network of sites, and they have. We are turning off any such campaigns that might be running on our network. Would I participate in a similar campaign again? Nothing is worth gambling the readers’ trust. Conversational marketing is a developing format, and clearly the rules are not fully defined. If the readers feel a line was crossed, I’ll will defer to their better judgement.

The fact of the matter is that the original premise of the campaign was to give my thoughts by what People Ready meant to me – it wasn’t an endorsement of a specific Microsoft product. (You can read it here, and judge for yourself.) Nor did my words run in any portion of our editorial space. Microsoft asked us to join a conversation, and we did. I wasn’t paid to participate in the conversation, but Microsoft ran an ad-campaign that paid us on the basis of CPM.

But today the campaign, which has been running for close to two months, brought up doubt about my editorial integrity for some of you.

In the future I shall focus on what I know best – reporting and writing.

You’re subscribed! If you like, you can update your settings

  1. It’s a slippery slope. Today it’s this slogan, tomorrow it will be “micro is soft and good” then “ms is great”. Where would you stop? Better stop here and now.

  2. Wow – this is an extremely thoughtful and fast response. I heard very quickly from Federated and want to give them the benefit of the doubt but I still don’t see how this approach will enhance the dialog. Money does not have to be paid directly to focus things … differently.

  3. GuyNamedNate Friday, June 22, 2007

    I read your post on peoplereadybusiness and don’t see what all the fuss is about. You clearly aren’t endorsing anything, you’re just giving good advice for someone thinking about striking it out on their own.

    If they did pay you, good for you! That kind of first-hand advice shouldn’t necessarily be free.

    At the very most, it seemed like you were endorsing the slogan “people ready” as being a good thing, which you back up with reasons why being “people ready” has helped you in your career.

    I actually would have MORE respect for you if you kept with your original judgment and ignored Valleywag and their sensationalist article, but do what you gotta do to feel comfortable.

  4. Om,
    Its admirable that you would apologize even before defending your position.

    To be honest, those ad’s were kind of confusing and I thought you endorsed them after some kind of a “review”. It was definitely misguiding. Never paid any attention to it till today though.

  5. Cortland Coleman Friday, June 22, 2007

    “Microsoft asked us to join a conversation, and we did.”

    OK, but did Microsoft/FM pay you to “join the conversation?”

    If so, that crosses a big, bold line in traditional journalism.

    “Conversational marketing is a developing format, and clearly the rules are not fully defined.”

    No question, but since you claim the title of “reporter,” aren’t some rules fully, clearly and obviously defined? Taking money to endorse products or services from those you report on is covered in J-School 101.

    Kudos for pulling the ads from your network. It will be interesting to see if others follow suit.

  6. Kudos to you for pulling the ads. Valleywag should thank you too – that’s the first time I’ve read something on their site in at least a year. For Nick to comment on “journalistic” ANYTHING is laughable.

    It’ll be a great day when Lifehacker and Consumerist disassociate themselves from Gawker.

    -a continued loyal reader.

    ps. please consider adding a nofollow to the link, VW doesn’t deserve your influence.

  7. How to be Bribe Ready. Payoff Ready. Anything-but-credible Ready.

    Shoot the messenger.

    Or the other White House favorite, “we didn’t see it coming”.

    Or maybe go the Al Gore “no controlling legal authority” route.

    Or use Ron Brown’s incompetence defense.

    Shoot, why not use them all? Just don’t ever admit you were paid off.

    If your behaviour and that of your co-conspirators didn’t just kill off the remaining vestiges of blogosphere credibility, then we can now safely call the blogosphere’s reputation Xenu – because nothing can destroy it.

  8. Om
    Glad you took this step. It is hard, but we know you’ll always do the right thing.

  9. <p>OK, but did Microsoft/FM pay you to “join the conversation?”</p>

    <p>No they didn’t. But at the same time the ad campaign ran on the site.</p>

    <p>For what it is – I am terribly sorry for this. A mistake that i am not likely to repeat.</p>

  10. Peter,

    thanks for your comments. You are right. Hopefully you will give me another chance.

Comments have been disabled for this post