The LaiseBoy Philosophy, Part 5—Of Red Herrings and Rotten Fish
Jerry Laiserin

The term "red herring" originally referred to a device to throw hounds off the scent, and has come to refer to any sort of intentional misdirection. To investment bankers the term describes preliminary prospectuses that bear a line of red type across the cover and that may, in their incompleteness, be misleading. Red Herring also is the name of a magazine, the "ethics policy" of which recently came to our attention. Laden with self-congratulatory prose (no doubt justified) regarding "journalism" versus "conflicts of interest," Red Herring's policies stand in sharp contrast to the LaiseBoy Philosophy. They avoid interests that conflict with their self-definition of journalism. This publication most avowedly is not journalism, and therefor—by definition—cannot incur any conflict of interest in that respect. In fact, while their journalistic ethics prevent them from getting "too close" to their subjects and subject matter, our passion for our subjects requires that we get as close as possible, bringing you insiders' insights in ways that no self-described journalist—by definition—can ever achieve.

In case you just came on board, it may be instructive to revisit Part 1 of the LaiseBoy Philosophy, Mission, Vision, and Full Disclosure (IssueTwo—June 10, 2002) and compare and contrast Red Herring's perspective.

> They believe "that ethical journalism is essential to (their) editorial mission..."

> We do not "make any pretense of journalistic objectivity."

> Their "policy is to preserve Red Herring's writers and editors from conflicts of interest that could compromise their credibility..."

> We believe our credibility rests on our industry insider status—supplemented by this disclosure: "...readers ought reasonably to assume that at any given moment (we) may be engaged in some business relationship with any company (we) might write about, or whose competitors (we) 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."

> Regarding advertising functions (publishing) and editorial functions (writing), they "send the message that the two departments are absolutely separate."

> We embody both functions in the same person ("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").

Red Herring rambles on at length about the limited circumstances under which their editorial folks may interact with advertising or marketing folks, "ad buyers" (advertisers, or their representatives), and publicists, as well as such matters as "advertorials," speaking engagements, advance disclosures, financial holdings, and so on. No doubt Red Herring is a perfectly honorable outfit that would be shocked if anything untoward occurred in their establishment. However, at some other magazines the lines and policies may not be so neatly drawn—sometimes shocking things do happen.

This is the LaiserinLetter. We try to be as open as possible about who and what we are and are not. And we hope that never comes as a shock.

< back