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k512
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Should ethical constraints be imposed on for-profit audio publications?

It's no secret that for-profit audio publications rely heavily on advertising revenue in order to remain profitable and financially solvent. However, unlike (for example) peer-reviewed medical journals, in which the authors of published scientific papers are required to fully disclose any financial links or funding from the pharmaceutical industry, etc., the audio reviewing industry seems to be free from any such ethical or financial disclosures.

Indeed, there are numerous other examples of similar ethical standards within our culture and society. As another example, politicians are yet another group of individuals who must report any financial ties to lobbyists, special interest groups, political organizations, campaign contributors, industries, etc.

Those entities who are governed by such strict ethical constraints are held to this degree of accountability and self-disclosure in order to discourage, prevent, and punish such things as conflicts-of-interest, unfair trading practices, sweetheart deals, influence-peddling, or other such anti-competitive liaisons. Those entities falling under such ethical guidelines are typically expected to avoid accepting any "gifts" or other special treatments or perks which could very well lead to special treatment, anti-competitiveness, and unfair advantages. Examples here would include expensive meals and bar bills; transportation expenses; lodging; expensive gifts, and other such generous "perks".

On the other hand, the arcane world of commercial
audio-review publications remains exempt from this sort of ethical oversight and financial self-disclosure/accountability. I can't recall any audio review in which the publisher disclosed the amount of money spent by the manufacturer or distributor (as well as any other "special treatment" the manufacturer or distributor had to provide) in order to best facilitate the review of their product.

In addition, I've never seen an audio-review journal publish a comparitive record of the annual advertising revenue it has received from a given manufacturer or distributor, along with the number of product reviews it has published for that same product-line within the same period of time.

dcrowe
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Re: Should ethical constraints be imposed on for-profit audio pu


Quote:
It's no secret that for-profit audio publications rely heavily on advertising revenue in order to remain profitable and financially solvent. However, unlike (for example) peer-reviewed medical journals, in which the authors of published scientific papers are required to fully disclose any financial links or funding from the pharmaceutical industry, etc., the audio reviewing industry seems to be free from any such ethical or financial disclosures.

Indeed, there are numerous other examples of similar ethical standards within our culture and society. As another example, politicians are yet another group of individuals who must report any financial ties to lobbyists, special interest groups, political organizations, campaign contributors, industries, etc.

Those entities who are governed by such strict ethical constraints are held to this degree of accountability and self-disclosure in order to discourage, prevent, and punish such things as conflicts-of-interest, unfair trading practices, sweetheart deals, influence-peddling, or other such anti-competitive liaisons. Those entities falling under such ethical guidelines are typically expected to avoid accepting any "gifts" or other special treatments or perks which could very well lead to special treatment, anti-competitiveness, and unfair advantages. Examples here would include expensive meals and bar bills; transportation expenses; lodging; expensive gifts, and other such generous "perks".

On the other hand, the arcane world of commercial
audio-review publications remains exempt from this sort of ethical oversight and financial self-disclosure/accountability. I can't recall any audio review in which the publisher disclosed the amount of money spent by the manufacturer or distributor (as well as any other "special treatment" the manufacturer or distributor had to provide) in order to best facilitate the review of their product.

In addition, I've never seen an audio-review journal publish a comparitive record of the annual advertising revenue it has received from a given manufacturer or distributor, along with the number of product reviews it has published for that same product-line within the same period of time.

All true, but there is no need to single out audio. It is true across the board in consumer reviewing, which is not held to the standards of refereed science journals. Consumer's Union claims superiority because they do not accept advertising, but unfortunately they do not have top-level specialist expertise either. I trust a number of publications (including Stereophile) in a number of consumer fields after years of observing them criticize advertisers as well as praise them. I think that the bigger question than integrity is competence. It takes significant discrimination to decide which magazines to trust based upon their expertise. There are a lot of magazines in every subject area which display expertise at the level of either reprinting manufacturer's press releases or worse, printing the opinions of novice reviewers.

In any case, fortunately the Constitution discourages censorship in the name of ethics.

k512
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Re: Should ethical constraints be imposed on for-profit audio pu
ohfourohnine
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Re: Should ethical constraints be imposed on for-profit audio pu

Surely, you jest. With all due respect, let me suggest that we subscribers to audio publications have ultimate power of oversight regarding the publications. If, and when, we suspect skullduggery, we may simply cancel our subscriptions. We can act as individuals in our own interest. Some things don't "take a village".

smejias
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Re: Should ethical constraints be imposed on for-profit audio pu


Quote:
SixMoons.com has the right idea: http://www.6moons.com/industryfeatures/reminder/reminder.html

Not for nuthin', but JA was on top of this back in 1988.

Check it: http://www.stereophile.com/historical/502/index.html

And - yes - we hold these standards still today.
Looks like SixMoons.com got "the right idea" from STEREOPHILE. Which is fine.

Editor
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Re: Should ethical constraints be imposed on for-profit audio pu


Quote:

Quote:
SixMoons.com has the right idea: http://www.6moons.com/industryfeatures/reminder/reminder.html

Not for nuthin', but JA was on top of this back in 1988.

Check it: http://www.stereophile.com/historical/502/index.html

And - yes - we hold these standards still today.
Looks like SixMoons.com got "the right idea" from STEREOPHILE. Which is fine.

I don't think SixMoons' main man, Srajan Ebean, was a Stereophile reader or even in the US back in 1988 when I wrote that article, Stephen. But the general policies on reviewer ethics I described back in 1988 are still in effect today. Readers can find more of my thoughts on this subject, and on the relationship between the magazine and advertisers at:
http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/746/ and http://www.stereophile.com/asweseeit/366/

I also write about our review policies in my "As We See It" in the current, November issue. I urge those who question my or the magazine's ethics to read that essay.

And Clay was right on the money when he wrote in this thread "we subscribers to audio publications have ultimate power of oversight regarding the publications. If, and when, we suspect skullduggery, we may simply cancel our subscriptions."

That is the ultimate sanction readers can apply to magazines they feel have betrayed their trust.

John Atkinson
Editor, Stereophile

nrchy
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Re: Should ethical constraints be imposed on for-profit audio pu

Yes, they should not be able to steal my equipment, after that I don't care!

I think it's stupid to challenge magazines about supposed ethical lapses because they take advertising. You can call me a synchophant (if you can pronounce it or I can spell it) but I have posted this other places perviously. Editors and reviewers are not stupid (though sometimes they play it on TV) if they review gear that does not live up to subsequent expectation, they are cutting their own throats. I often do not agree with the details of a review, but generally the gist of it is accurate. NO TWO AUDIOPHILES WILL EVER AGREE. Why should mags have to agree with you?

Besides, what audiophiles do you know with ethics, why should magazines be held to a higher standard than it's readers???

gkc
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Re: Should ethical constraints be imposed on for-profit audio pu

Hi, Kurt,
Should ethical constraints be imposed on audio publicatons? Sure. Why not? As long as I get to determine the ethical rubric, and they are MY constraints, MY shackles, MY punishments (to be meted out on MY whims). The first rule would be, of course, no equipment shall be reviewed unless I like the manufacturer and, in all fairness, the equipment he designs. The second rule is, I get 10% of all gross sales for any equipment favorably reviewed. I like this game. I think I may even run for Congress -- awww, hell, why not PRESIDENT? Clifton, Gerald. That's C-L-I-F-T-O-N. Vote for Clifton. Cheers, Clifton.

Monty
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Re: Should ethical constraints be imposed on for-profit audio pu

I once thought of running for office on a platform of synchronizing the traffic signals. "Make one light, make'em all!"

I'd bankrupt the city if I had to, but traffic would move by gosh!

gkc
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Re: Should ethical constraints be imposed on for-profit audio pu

No need to run, Monty -- when I'm elected, I shall appoint you Secretary of Transportation AND Czar of Traffic Expediting. Instead of, "Race you to the next light!" it will be "Race you to the next county!" -- salary will be paid by the taxpayers, of course, and you get a free listening room filled with the components of your choice, for meditation on public policy. Cheers, Clifton

Buddha
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Re: Should ethical constraints be imposed on for-profit audio pu

Reminds of that old Seinfeld bit...

The only time they let you run red lights is in your funeral procession.

What irony, the only time they let you make good time is after you're dead!

Buh-dump-bump.

_________________________________

In my world, tailgating would get the guy in front of you the ticket - for not getting out of the gol' durn way!

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