Is Getting Access To Competitors' Presentations Claiming To Be An Indy Blogger Corp. Espionage?

from the blurring-lines dept

One of the things that many conferences are struggling with these days is the question of how do you handle "press passes" for events. In the past, it was easy: there was press... and there was everyone else. But these days, when anyone can become a publisher of their own blog or other site, where do you draw the line? I know I've had discussions with conference organizers who fret over the issue, and generally decide on a rather ad hoc basis. But Glurbie alerts us to a story that takes the issue to an entirely different level. If you're a blogger... and you get a "press pass" to an industry (or competitor's) event as a blogger, rather than as an employee of your company, at what point is there an ethical lapse?

In this story, a spokesperson for Boeing, who also writes for a defense contractor blog, went to an industry event under a press pass for the blog, rather than being listed as a Boeing employee -- and then sat in on various presentations by competitors. That second link notes that this probably falls short of real corporate espionage (which the original link above raises), but does certainly raise some ethical questions. There is a suggestion that most people in the room probably already knew the guy worked for Boeing, but it still seems odd not to admit that fact.

While there's some effort to pose this story as a question about "blogging" (and Boeing is apparently reviewing its blogging efforts and thinking of shutting down the guy's blog), I'm really not sure it's a "blogging" issue at all. The real issue is one of disclosure. The guy didn't disclose who he worked for when that could have been rather relevant.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  •  
    identicon
    Michial Thompson, Aug 24th, 2009 @ 9:18am

    There will always be a blogger abusing the system

    This article is really more about a blogger that abused the press pass system rather than about the espionage.

    Welcome to another one of those areas where Technology has created an avenue for abuse.

    There are a lot of bloggers that write EXCELLENT stories, and that even do better reporting that the mainstream press, but just because they have a hobby of writing stories online should not entitle them to automatic access to the press credentials.

     

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      ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 24th, 2009 @ 9:24am

      Re: There will always be a blogger abusing the system

      "...just because they have a hobby of writing stories online should not entitle them to automatic access to the press credentials."

      I'm not familiar with this blogger or his industry, but the best bloggers tend to be people who are very knowledgeable about their area of expertise (in contrast to the journeyman generalists that most 'journalists' are) so this kind of problem is likely to be revisited again in the future. It's a matter of whether you can wear one hat and not the other at any given point.

       

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        Michial Thompson, Aug 24th, 2009 @ 9:48am

        Re: Re: There will always be a blogger abusing the system

        At what point is an event host entitled to limit access? I happen to be fairly knowledgable of music, does that entitle me to press access to ever concert I feel the need to write a blog entry about?

        My concern isn't in how well someone writes or if they are or are not writing a blog. My issue is in the definition of who is or is not entitled to press access to events.

        Think about it this way, Mikee here always whines about how music should be free and musicians need to find other ways to make money like concerts etc... With the easy access to blogging ever person out there has the ability to begin writting stories online.

        In America we have a history of valuing the freedoms of our press to do reporting, to the point that major lawsuits and settlements have taken place when members of the press are not allowed access to things.

        If every blogger is concidered members of the press then every blogger is entitled to the same press access, and at some point there is going to be more room in the audience than there will be in the back stage areas where the press are.

        It is only a matter of time before some idiot with a blog files a law suit against someone because they could not get access to all the areas where other members of the press are allowed.

        My issue is with how the abuse will lead to the mainstream press crying that the government needs to institute laws to protect the reporters, and then the government will be back into controlling who has access and who does not have access to writing about the news.

         

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          ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 24th, 2009 @ 9:59am

          Re: Re: Re: There will always be a blogger abusing the system

          "At what point is an event host entitled to limit access? I happen to be fairly knowledgable of music, does that entitle me to press access to ever concert I feel the need to write a blog entry about?"

          No, and even now there's no requirement to grant, say, a NYT columnist access versus a Pitchfork blogger. It's entirely up to the venue. Even back in the day, small papers who managed to field a reporter wouldn't always be able to get them access.

          My point is that line is getting even blurrier. Talking Points Memo is probably a bigger journalistic force than most peoples' hometown paper.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2009 @ 9:31am

    Well, an ethics violation can be anything. It could be walking on the wrong side of the street if someone really wanted to pursue it. So this guy is an enthusiast and has a blog. What's wrong with that? Is he a director at Boeing or something? If not, then you have to ask at what point does company encroachment on personal life become acceptable?

     

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      Glurbie, Aug 24th, 2009 @ 9:51am

      Re:

      It's not a personal blog, it's a corporate one run by Boeing.

       

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        ChurchHatesTucker (profile), Aug 24th, 2009 @ 10:00am

        Re: Re:

        "It's not a personal blog, it's a corporate one run by Boeing."

        If it is, did they not know that before inviting him?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2009 @ 11:58am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Man companies take the concept of "CwF" to a different level, by publishing blogs under other names, or allowing their employees to run blogs that aren't specifically attributed to the company. Ford was a big player in that field. They would also encourage employees to go out to other blog sites and post comments and generate link backs to promote Ford products.

          It is manipulation and dishonesty at it's finest.

          This guy appears to work for Boeing and run a blog for Boeing, there is no reason he should be trying to pass himself off "media", when he is something else.

          A corporate shill is still a shill, no matter if you put the word "blogger" on top of it.

           

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2009 @ 9:41am

    Now I have to wonder what you would be able to tell the press who will presumably republish the info for all to see, but not be able to tell your competitor.

    I do agree the bloggers affiliation with Boeing probably should have been disclosed, but I doubt that this is as big of a deal as it is being made out to be.

     

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    Bob, Aug 24th, 2009 @ 10:50am

    Yea, I don't get it

    "Now I have to wonder what you would be able to tell the press who will presumably republish the info for all to see, but not be able to tell your competitor."

    And in light of that, I'm not sure how unethical it is to attend a competitor's presentation of information that has effectively been approved for public consumption without fully disclosing your personal affiliations.

     

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    Anonymous Author, Aug 24th, 2009 @ 12:07pm

    Corp-employed blogger with a personal blog that covers the topic of his employment IS indeed "press."

    I am in that same position and I do it all the time; no ethics violation whatsoever here.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 24th, 2009 @ 1:53pm

    If this is a presentaion to the press can't someone from another corporation just read the press report and get the same info. I mean a presentaion to the press is only one step away from a public presentation. So how is there any espionage? Do companies give information to the press in a big presenataion that they don't want published?

     

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    Fred McTaker (profile), Aug 24th, 2009 @ 3:04pm

    What prevents multi-job holders from being in "The Press"?

    It seems like the world may be moving from factory-model employees to free-lancing and contract work. Short of that, it seems like more people will be doing multiple jobs: their factory-model job during the day, and their small Internet operation at night for example. So at what point do we stop defining people as "Boeing Contractor" or "Freelance Journalist", and start providing a list of all current and former non-private activities, or even hobbies (which become "freelance work" the moment someone pays them for it)?

     

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    ikegami, Aug 24th, 2009 @ 4:03pm

    I don't get it. Why is something told to the press treated as if it's secret?

     

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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 24th, 2009 @ 4:16pm

    This is a little off topic ... but on topic ...

    This is a little off topic ... but on topic ...

    You have bloggers, people who are single issue, news reporters, people issuing press releases, and many more.

    You want to know who is actually a press person, rank them. Lets create a scale from 0 to 10,000, that scale to include but not be limited to, accuracy of reporting, source listings, news worthiness, etc.

    Bonding professionals with a percentage of salary to being bonded and held in trust would also work to prevent abuse. You lie you get fined....


    Just a thought

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Aug 24th, 2009 @ 4:19pm

      Re: This is a little off topic ... but on topic ...

      Actually a thought for the future when newspapers cant make budget advertising wise...

       

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        Hephaestus (profile), Aug 24th, 2009 @ 4:23pm

        Re: Re: This is a little off topic ... but on topic ...

        271 note/entry) Ranking system for News types for Apple kindle clone/RSS/etc system runs from 0 to 10,000

         

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