OLD Media Moves

Gillmor: Make stock option scandal a citizen journalism project

May 30, 2006

World-famous blogger and citizen journalist advocate Dan Gillmor has a great suggestion on his Center for Citizen Media blog. He wants to make the current stock option scandal where executives are receiving stock options back dated to the lowest stock price for their company a nationwide project for citizen journalists.

Dan GillmorGillmor suggests that stockholders/citizen journalists/bloggers do some simple research of local publicly traded companies, looking at their SEC filings to determine when stock options were granted and then compare that to historical stock prices.

He writes, “In relatively short order, I predict, the Journal and the cops on the financial beat would be well on their way to determining whether this is a scandal of limited scope or, as some fear, an all-too-common rigging of the system by the insiders against their purported bosses, the shareholders.

“I’d want the public database to show all companies, not just ones where the options dates are suspicious. I’m a shareholder in several public companies, and would like very much to know that the people running them are honorable, at least in this regard. I’d like even more to learn that we’ve already learned about the worst of this scandal, that it doesn’t go as deep as we might suspect.

“I suspect the Journal, which has a terrific collection of online resources already devoted to this story, will balk at the idea of putting the data online before the paper’s own journalists have vetted the data that comes in. In today’s litigious world, that would be understandable.

“But if so, I hope some other entity — perhaps a foundation or even another publication — will step up and do create this public database. It might be a good Wiki project, with some controls to prevent gaming by people who want to make unfair accusations or delete fair ones.”

Read more here.

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