This BuzzFeed headline is a bit much: “Every Tech Journalist’s Worst Nightmare”
The article, written by John Herrman, tells the “nightmare” of CNET bestowing a “Best of CES” honor on DISH Network’s Hopper device, but that award was soon revoked when CNET’s parent company — CBS — cried foul. CBS is suing DISH because it doesn’t like the Hopper’s ad-skipping technology.
So, yes, having your editorial autonomy undermined is unfortunate. But “nightmare”? No. That’s not an apt description of what happened here.
A tech writer’s real nightmare would involve an Apple exclusive that’s scooped by a competitor. This CNET thing? That’s a challenge to editorial objectivity, and those challenges happen all the time. Sometimes you win those battles. Sometimes you lose. There’s no immutable objectivity law.
Herrman also makes this point:
This is a constant fear for many tech writers — their jobs, more than many other in media, require them to cover companies they either work for, or which their employers interact with.
“Constant fear.” My God, being a tech journalist sounds awful.
I also take issue with the “more than many other in media” bit. News organizations that still adhere to the church/state division of edit and advertising might shield writers from this situation, but how many of those organizations are left? (And I question whether that line is even necessary — but that’s a topic for another day.)
Tiptoeing along editorial integrity is hard no matter the circumstance. It’s even harder when your content and your sources and your stories are tied to business partners or advertisers or sponsors or a mothership corporate entity. Anyone who’s worked in B2B publishing knows exactly how this feels.
This isn’t a “nightmare.” It’s the nature of the beast, and you have to accept that it’s part of the job.