It took Spend Matters years of ranting and outspoken perspective to convince many readers of our relative objectivity in the market (or at least the objectivity that comes from knowing that dollars don't mean a thing regarding how we cover or don't cover specific providers). I used to have to defend myself from anonymous comments on what felt like a monthly basis, suggesting we were paid to somehow support a provider or perspective. But finally, the comments slowed. Either this means people have stopped reading -- which I think is unlikely, given our traffic trends -- or they've finally accepted that our model, while far from perfect, is at least legitimately unbiased, aside from having an opinion on things that comes with the territory.
Still, once things quiet down in one industry as models establish themselves, the negative rhetoric begins to heat up in others. MetalMiner recently found itself on the defense regarding accusations of advertiser bias but stuck up for itself in a post titled: The Role of New Media and Objectivity. In it, Lisa chooses her words wisely as she captures the essence of what a good blog is relative to traditional media as well as the value of conversation and dialogue online: "As a new media/blog site, and not an 'objective media site' (we never claimed to not have an opinion), we share a set of beliefs and values that have certainly impacted our writing ... let's talk about editorial independence. On issues of steel market forecasts, pricing, market directions and trends, we have said so publicly and will demonstrate via our actions that our sponsors have no influence on that content."
Lisa continues: "In fact, we may move forward by further sub-dividing our content to create greater clarity for readers. But our thought pieces on various trade actions as an example, or lousy sourcing practices we see in the market or President Obama's health care bill are things that can't be presented 'objectively'." Moreover, "It is a futile exercise to pretend one can be unbiased. The NY Times is hardly unbiased. The WSJ is not unbiased. As a blog, we write our opinions freely backed with data as we see fit and if someone disagrees they are free to comment and participate in the dialog. That is what we believe social media is all about."
MetalMiner has taken the metals industry by storm in the past 18 months, becoming a top two trafficked publication, even surpassing AMM in a recent traffic blip according to a major traffic ranking site. I believe it's precisely the level of opinion and insight than can lead to such a rapid following and shake up of historic models. Just as Spend Matters ushered in an era of procurement and supply chain op/ed coverage -- and was followed by excellent and original efforts in their own rights including Sourcing Innovation, Supply Chain Matters, Horses for Sources, etc. -- and had to deal with malcontents for a number of years as it pioneered a new model, it will take time for MetalMiner to establish itself as potentially even more unbiased based on its revenue model than traditional publishing models. Still, opinion will always be opinion. But at least now if you don't like how issues are presented, you can have a voice and disagree with it!