OLD Media Moves

More on Overstock/BusinessWeek tussle

January 16, 2006

The rest of the mass communications world is beginning to catch on to the issues surrounding the posting by Overstock.com President Patrick Byrne of an e-mail interview he had with BusinessWeek e-commerce editor Timothy Mullaney.

Blogger expert Dan Gillmor wrote about the issue on his blog at Center for Citizen Media today and stated: “This isn’t an entirely new phenomenon. In We the Media I noted that the Pentagon has been posting transcripts of major interviews with the defense secretary (I cited this one in particular), and others have posted such exchanges as well.

“But it’s a harbinger of a changed situation for journalists. They may think they’re working behind a curtain, able to make (what they choose of) what they’ve learned public when they wish. Increasingly, they’re not.”

If Gillmor is right, and I suspect he eventually will be, then business journalists everywhere need to be more careful about how they conduct e-mail interviews — or really any type of interview. The parameters of the interview and what can be done with the interview will need to be clearly defined by journalist and subject before the interview begins. I can foresee a future where companies will want to record interviews with executives and post them on their Web sites in a special section — maybe even in the investor relations section of their URL.

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