Yes. Reporting bad news warns readers against buying badly-made products, or sending money to a company about to go out of business.
No. Reporting bad news could cause the company to lose orders, or a shaky company to go under.
After receiving several threats of law suits over the years after reporting bad news, it's easier on me to report only neutral and good news -- unless the bad news is backed by a larger, first-reporting agency. A common example: a CAD vendor has a big loss in a quarter, as reported by its own press release.
When Magic Kills
Mark Logic CEO Blog reports on another form of bad news resulting in a law suit. Gartner is a research firm that regularly groups firms into its "Magic Quadrant," which helps people see at a glance who's big and who isn't in specific markets. Email archiving firm ZL Technologies has sued Gartner, saying the Magic Quadrant
favors large vendors with large sales and marketing budgets over smaller innovators such as ZL that have developed higher performing products.I should note here that the same thing happens in the CAD industry. Anytime you hear of a white paper or see a ranking analysis, the CAD vendors involved paid for the results. (Then they turn the result into a press release crowing about their market dominance in some niche or another. It's really embarrassing, and it's a type of good news I never report.)
ZL hopes the law suit will force Gartner to open up its Magic Quadrant process. Openess is a good thing. But I'm not going to tell you that I heard that so-and-so company is having a tough time surviving. I have to survive, too.
Interesting. Confessions of the professional CAD press. This is an advantage of amateur bloggers that most don't take advantage of. Money really does buy influence, whether you'd admit to it or not. If I'm not making any money from the companies involved, I can't be influenced, and I say what I want to say. To me, the consumer advocate function of independent bloggers is important. I agree with what the FCC is doing trying to get bloggers who pose as independent but really aren't to come clean. When a company buys you plane tickets and hotel rooms and meals, that kind of thing almost guarantees you don't say anything bad about them.
Posted by: Matt Lombard | Oct 22, 2009 at 06:49 AM
My worry, as expessed by the blog piece, is being sued out of house and home for something I may have written. I have some protection by operating through a limited corporation in Canada (LLC, in the USA), but this is no guarantee against bankruptcy created by a legal aggressor.
Posted by: Ralph Grabowski | Oct 22, 2009 at 07:24 AM
Got my interest instantly with this piece Ralph.
I can understand where your coming from and equally agree with Matt. But being prepared to say 'something bad' is almost an obligation when discussing products people are purchasing. Else the 'product review' must be ignored by purchasers because it may mislead.
Take the ***** ratings we used to see in Cadalyst articles, as one case in point: and another, the incorrect information that came out of blogs relating to Autodesk's CIP. In Cadalyst there were comments about 'things' that might have not worked great, but in the main that industry mag' completely avoided some really bad points in products - not a good thing to do.
I would argue that it was also part of the reason for the demise of many industry mags - not game enough to tell the whole story, possibly trying to protect advertising revenue - results in readers losing interest. Too much sugar!
Closer to home, for me, is software licencing, if the industry mags, commentators and blogs got stuck into discussing these in an open way we would not have the ludicrous situations we now have surrounding licencing. It is the fear of being sued that has prevented many - who could have had a very good effect in this area - from speaking their minds publicly.
Sticking to the facts about what is good and bad, about products, is what is needed to prevent/avoid litigation.
Yes, your right Ralph aggression can be very damaging but without credibility, and a willingness to put both sides of a story, an industry commentator has nothing more to say than can be read in product brochures or corporate press releases.
Posted by: R. Paul Waddington | Oct 22, 2009 at 05:53 PM