Hugh Hefner, founding editor/publisher of Playboy magazine, regaled readers for decades with his "Playboy Philosophy," a recurring exposition of his editorial policies. Hefner's libertine worldview may have been overtaken by political correctness, but his impetus to explain his publication to his readers remains valid. Issue One of the LaiserinLetter promised regular introspection about our mission: who we are, what we cover, why we cover it, who it's for, and how to read it-a sort of "LaiseBoy (pronounced LazyBoy) Philosophy," if you will. This week I disclose consulting and other business relationships in the industry (a story best skipped by punctilious professors of journalism).
When I decided to launch the LaiserinLetter as an economically self-sustaining venture, I had to reconcile this new mix of activity-writing and publishing-with the rest of my business. My business is a combination of consulting, writing, and speaking-primarily focused on the architecture, engineering, and construction (AEC), facilities management, (FM), plant and process, and infrastructure industries. Although I have written some 250 articles on these topics for other publications over the last ten years, I'm too engaged in what I write about to make any pretense of journalistic objectivity.
Some will consider this lack of journalistic purity a bad thing (although I do not hold myself out as a journalist); others will see in it the virtue of a true insider's perspective. For example, when I write about the criteria that AEC or infrastructure firms use in choosing technology, I write not from observation but from participation-as a consultant who helps end-users understand why, when and what to buy. Over the years I've had the privilege of assisting dozens of firms with technology master plans, technology strategy retreats, counsel to internal technology committees, IT staff organization, and so on.
That work, in turn, led to another client base: vendors seeking to understand how end-users make their buying decisions. To this group, I offer services such as market development consulting, position analyses, competitive assessments, white papers, sponsored research, sponsored seminars, and the like. At one time or another, I've provided one or more of these services to many of the leading CAD, project management, financial management, building information, online, and other service and software providers to the industries I cover.
Non-disclosure prevents me from revealing which services to which organizations at which time, so readers ought reasonably to assume that at any given moment I may be engaged in some business relationship with any company I might write about, or whose competitors I might mention (or fail to mention)-if not at that moment, then in the past, or with a prospect of doing business in the future.
My business has often taken me from a consulting engagement with one company to consultation with a competitor and back again. Even though competitors accept my credibility in this way, each reader must make a personal decision about how much credibility to add or subtract from my scorecard. However, I'll venture that you won't see this kind of self-revelation in most "journalistic" efforts.
Many publications separate the roles of editor (content) and publisher (business). Some people at the publication write about companies and their products; other folks sell advertising to some of those same companies about some of the same products. Small, self-published newsletters like this one can't afford the luxury of that kind of separation (even though the separation is less clear-cut in practice than it is in journalism school theory).
I am the editor/publisher. That means I deal directly with the folks whose sponsorship buttons and advertising banners festoon this site, as well as occasionally writing about their products or those of competitors. Again, each reader must make a personal decision whether this is a problem. However, I hope to sell more ads, not fewer, because the more advertisers and sponsors any publication has, the less beholden it is to any one of them.
Media mogul Rupert Murdoch once said, "The best way to enjoy freedom of the press is to own one." This newsletter is not "all the news that's fit to print," but "whatever news I choose to print." That's why it's called the LaiserinLetter. Thanks in advance for reading it in the spirit that's intended.JL