Bias in the Old Media and New: The Never Ending Debate

Perhaps the most wonderful thing about blogs is that they allow the reader to have a voice. And perhaps just as important, they allow me, the primary author of this little corner of the blogosphere, to offer a completely objective perspective sans outside interest, and correct voices which are out of line. But some readers still can't get over the possibility of "bias" when it comes to a blogging versus other forms of journalism or analyst-like coverage. Late last week, a reader posted a comment that a "softball" interview style in my discussion with Avner Schneur was a signal that Emptoris was coming on board as a sponsor to which I responded quite simply: hogwash! I've never even broached the topic with Emptoris, nor should that matter in the discussion.

But there's a bright side to these sorts of accusations. Even though the nature of a blog allows this type of reader commentary -- however slanted by competitive motivations it might be -- blogs also allow the author a chance to respond as well. In other words, the process is completely transparent, if not efficient, as it takes time out of my day to respond to statements that I would not have otherwise had to if I were another type of correspondent or analyst. But still, I love the fact that this is truly an open democratic forum.

But getting back to the accusation at hand in regards to bias. As I've said many times, sponsorship or non-sponsorship has no bearing on coverage at Spend Matters, unlike the traditional analyst and media worlds where the influence of dollars is subtle, but at work in many cases. While not explicitly "pay to play", for example, the analyst world, I would challenge, is certainly open to the impact of greenbacks. To wit, I would challenge any vendor to get quotes out of an analyst firm for the media on a consistent basis unless they were a paid client (or to take reference calls from prospects for that matter). And I wonder if trade publication awards would go year-after-year to the same vendors unless they provided advertising revenue in kind for the "Top 100" type of issues.

My point is simple: the traditional media and analyst worlds, if not explicitly "pay to play", are certainly impacted by dollars indirectly. So next time you consider bias in the blogosphere -- or Spend Matters in particular -- consider the bias and impact of dollars when you read a trade article or see an analyst quoted in a piece. I can honestly tell you the "old world" is very different than the world I've chosen to set up here. As a former vendor, consultant, journalist, and analyst, I've gotten riled up enough by the old system to at least attempt to make a difference by pursuing a new type of model. Whether it works, only time will tell. But please don't suggest I'm "biased" by outside dollars or interests.

Jason Busch

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