NetworkWorld just doesn't get it
I really wanted to let this whole NetworkWorld fiasco go. It burned up most of my day yesterday and based on the very positive feedback I've gotten from lots of folks, from Martin McKeay (here) to lots of kind emails and calls - I know I did the right thing by standing my ground and not apologizing for my opinion.
But when I saw Paul McNamara's discussion of the situation (here), I just can't hold my tongue. Evidently John Dix is above dealing with his own situations in his own words, so he sends a hatchet man to tell their side of the story. I don't have a hatchet man. I make my own bed, so I sleep in it.
It's funny, both Paul and Dix, repeatedly use the term "business partnership." It seems that because these guys paid me $600 a column, they deserve special treatment. Is that their definition of a "paycheck?" Not in my book, that's hardly beer money. I provide content, they pay me money. There is no shared risk. No shared reward. I'm a freelancer, a mercenary. If my column takes off, they still pay me the same $600 - regardless of how much advertising they sell. There is no partnership here. There is no exclusivity.
And let me deal with the whole "biting the hand that feeds me" thing. I BITE EVERYONE'S HAND. As I wrote to Dix, I'm an equal opportunity offender. I don't give a shit if you pay me money or not. I treat you all the same. Users, vendors and other analysts alike. Maybe I treat you shabbily at times, but I'm also there to publicly pat you on the back if you do it right. Just don't EVER think anyone is entitled to get special treatment because of a financial arrangement.
NetworkWorld learned that the hard way. Some folks can't deal with that, and that's fine. They can opt not to do business with me, as NWW has. I don't have any issue with that.
But don't hide behind some bullshit ethical compass that requires me to accept your definition of "responsibility" to a "business partner." I agree that with freedom of expression comes responsibility. I didn't lose sight of anything. We differ on who my responsibility is to. I always work on behalf of the end user, regardless of who is paying the bill. Not the media and not the vendors. I was taking my responsibility very seriously when I wrote the initial piece.
And we also differ on what is "scathing." It seems they didn't have an issue when I lit Joel Snyder on fire (here) because of a piece he wrote in NWW. That was scathing. This was gentle by comparison. Maybe that's what Paul's referring to when he says it's not the first time I've bit the hand, but that's being disingenuous. They never voiced an issue with me about that piece. Not once.
To be annoyed that I pointed my readers to their "competition" is another empty justification. I do that EVERY SINGLE DAY. The Daily Incite has links to everyone. It's a surprise to them that I read everyone's stuff and think some is better than others? Perhaps they would have me just do an extract of NWW's security coverage for TDI every day. Give me a break.
And to say I've blogged myself "off a cliff?" Talk about self-importance syndrome. For some reason, I think I'll survive. Maybe, dare I say it for chance of tempting the fates, even prosper. There is life after NWW, I assure you.
I started Security Incite and I work for myself because I NEED to have the ability to tell someone to pound sand. I am not and will never again be beholden to someone else to pay my bills. I will never abdicate my responsibility to do what's right and to tell the truth, regardless of how hard it is or how much money it costs me.
McNamara is way off the reservation with his ideas that corporate blogging is not taking off because of the candidness of the conversation and the risk of "potential trouble." The days of political correctness and stifling conversation are over. My friend Chris Roeckl mentioned in a comment that you "never pick a fight with a company that buys paper by the ton and ink by the barrel." The power of the blogosphere is that we ALL buy ink by the barrel now.
As with every new media, there will be some at the front end of the curve and some at the back end. Corporations have a choice. Get involved in the conversation or don't. But make no mistake, the conversation is going to happen. It's as simple as that.