Future of journalism is not about fooling your audience

I do value journalists. I really believe our society needs them to be informed. That's a huge responsibility and when some journalists abuse their position to fool their audience, I scream! It's not respectful for their audience or for fellow journalists who do their job in a professional way and with values.

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  1. We live in a world of free and easy access to multiple sources of information and that's good for humanity. We used to rely on a handful number of broadcasters who could easily manipulate the masses and tell their vision of the truth (I'm looking at you Fox).
    The future of journalism is different. Journalists' power will be diminished and will swing back to their real added value to our society: informing people in a way that serves their audience, not their shareholders.
  2. I had a conversation this morning on Twitter with Tom Foremski (@tomforemski), a former Financial Times journalist turned freelance. 

    He started his own blog, Silicon Valley Watcher, and it was a great example of an old media veteran experimenting with new media. I loved it and it was an example to follow for many other journalists.
  3. However his business model doesn't work (yet) and he decided to also work as a consultant for a French company called PearlTrees. Which he rightfully discloses in his twitter profile or when he writes about that company on his blog:
  4. Full disclosure:
    I'm the cofounder of Storify which can be seen as a curation tool like Pearltrees. However I believe both platforms target two different audiences and purposes.
  5. But yesterday, Tom wrote this piece on ZDNET, a respected blog about technology:
  6. Clearly, by all journalistic standards there is a big problem of disclosure here. For 99.9% of the readers who don't double check his Twitter profile, they don't know that he actually gets paid by PearlTrees. Hence, this article is much more a sponsored article than a journalistic post to inform ZDNET's audience.
    I was very disappointed. As I know Tom, I first reached to him yesterday evening:
  7. As I didn't get any answer, I decided I would share publicly my disappointment with all my followers:
  8. To which he actually replied the following:
  9. This is the actual quote from the article:
  10. For much of this year I’ve been working with Pearltrees and its team of developers, because it is the most comprehensive curation tool I’ve found so far.
  11. I don't know about you, but to me this doesn't sound like a clear disclosure. 
  12. Hopefully I'm not the only one thinking that way. Also other people expressed their agreement via DM (too bad they wouldn't dare to say it publicly).
  13. Tom wrote about us (and said nice things), he even installed our previous product Publitweet on his site (thanks again!). It's not in my interest to do this rant, but yet to me Values > Personal Profit.

    I just wanted to Storify this story for the record and to spread this message:
    Dear journalists of old and new media, let's go back to real values, let's go back to the meaning of your existence: informing people and helping your audience understand this crazy world we live in. We need you more than ever.
  14. Update: 
    At noon today, Tom actually edited his post which now says more clearly "as a consulting client": 
  15. For much of this year I’ve been working with Pearltrees and its team of developers, as a consulting client, because it is the most comprehensive curation tool/service I’ve found so far.
  16. Now, this is much better and much more clear don't you think?

    I appreciate the change (although it's clearly a bit late as we all know that most people read a blog post in the first 12 hours of publishing).

    I hope people would be more vigilant to this kind of behavior and report it, because this shouldn't happen in the world of journalists.
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