Posted April 5, 2007 10:35 am by with 4 comments

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I’d like to hear your thoughts on CNET’s look at whether journalists are starting to break the informal code that prevents conflicts of interest.

Their expose of well known MarketWatch journalist, Bambi Francisco, reads as more of an attempt to undermine a rival publication, than a serious look at whether traditional journalists should avoid getting involved with companies they write about.

Here’s the summary CNET uses to describe their story…

What’s new:

MarketWatch reporter Bambi Francisco was allowed by her bosses to take a stake in a matchmaker for start-ups and venture capitalists, an industry she has covered for more than a decade.

Bottom line:

The arrangement is rare among journalists who usually follow strict rules to prevent even the perception of a conflict of interest.

If you read the story, I’d like to know if you think I’m completely imagining this or not.

  • BW Mitchell

    Mr. Sandoval’s sad discourse speaks volumes. It is of concern to me that he is still employed with CNET, after all, who would invite a writer with no relevant ideas or imagination to join the staff?
    Here is the message: NEW MEDIA IS ABOUT INTELLIGENCE. It is about your ability to be passionate about a subject, and to commit yourself to uncovering and discussing news with the worldwide community.
    Bambi Francisco has been in the game since 1999. She is one of the best. For Sandoval to even think twice about questioning HER or MARKETWATCH’s professionalism is tragic. I mean, c’mon get creative! Your suppossed to generate ideas and be unique. Sandoval will go dowm in history as teh failed writer who confused Securities Analysts with Reporters. Please send me his address so I can send him a donation he will need it after he gets fired. Rock n Roll !

  • john caddidy

    with all due respect, you’re pretty clueless. dow jones senior management obviously felt there was a clear ethical issue. that’s why they forced her to resign this afternoon. seems that the marketwatch crew is managed by amateurs. this sort of nonsense is unacceptable. maybe it’s fine for bloggers to go around with undisclosed conflicts of interest. but how are we as a republic supposed to judge news organizations if we don’t know they are working both sides of the street?

    as for “BW Mitchell’s” comment that bambi francisco was one of the best reporters out there…hahahaah. she was a softballer par excellance. she could always be expected to write the conventional wisdom. no loss to journalism here. i wish her well on her budding business career. but she screwed this up by herself

  • I am not sure why we have to keep revisiting this issue, which has long been an ethical battleground in the trade press.

    I don’t have any direct insight into the situation with Bambi Francisco. But the general rules that should be in place are clear.

    Just because what you write winds up on a Blog, or in a video, or on a chat board, instead of a piece of printed paper doesn’t change the basic rules of journalism. If you’re investing in a field you cover, or plan on getting a job with a company in a field you cover, or are dating somebody who works for a company in a field you cover, you’ve crossed the line. If you’re actually taking money from ANY company on the side (as Amanda Congdon was), you get explicit approval and MUST disclose this. Frankly, it’s much better to remain clean from get-go.

    Journalists in tech earn less money, get treated with less respect, and aren’t even regarded seriously by mainstream magazine publishers. So some naturally try to migrate into a better-paying field: often one they’ve learned about through coverage. But if you do this, you must make a clean break, well ahead of time. You can’t play both sides and expect it to end happily.

    C|Net’s article might have had a gloating subtext, but I didn’t see anything factually wrong with its story. I’m not sure, Andy, why you’re unhappy with the way it was drafted: please explain!

  • Steve – the CNET article appeared more to focus on a a rival’s journalist than the issue in general.

    Also, where is it written that a journalist on a blog “MUST” disclose taking any money from a company it discusses? Sure MSM has followed this edict, but you included bloggers.

    I disclose all potential connections, but not everyone does.