What transparency costs

Something happened this week that brought up the issue of transparency, journalistic independence and why both are needed for a vibrant media that properly serves the industry.  As many of you know, I was asked to start a blog on EDA Cafe back in June and started a series of podcasts focusing on the bottom line of design automation.  in other words, finding out the industry could justify its existence financially to its customers.  

We started out with a couple of interviews with the CEOs of Magma and Tanner EDA and then of the Real Intent CEO.  The first two readily admitted that figuring out the real ROI of EDA tools is something that has not been done well and needs to be done better.  The third interview had the same revelation, but you might notice that the interview is no longer available on EDA Cafe.  Real Intent lodged a complaint to EDA Cafe regarding the statement in the interview from the CEO that they could not accurately estimate the ROI but were sure they had the right price point on their tool.  I also pointed that out in the written introduction.  They wanted the interview taken down, and since Real Intent pays for their presence on EDA Cafe, their demand was met.  One complaint and it's gone.

So that's what we have to deal with.  Many publications on the internet are ultimately controlled by the companies they cover.  Those publications believe the companies supporting them will pull that support unless the toe the line.  That means, ultimately, you can't really trust the content on those publications.  It's not that the publications are unreliable, just the content they allow on the site because they don't really control it. Specifically, EDA Cafe has not violated any form of journalism ethics because their business model is not set up to maintain them.  They are paid for industry happy talk.

Some people might put New Tech Press into that same category because all the content is sponsored, often by the company that is being written about, but this is where maintaining independence and transparency comes in.  New Tech Press requires sponsoring companies to accept the condition that they can only control the factual content of the material, not the way it is presented.  We maintain the right to contextualize the content.

We recently had an article sponsored and were all ready to publish it when the sponsoring company said they didn't want to be identified as the sponsor.  We refused to publish it on New Tech Press because that request not only violated our agreement, it also violated our commitment to transparency and independence .  I'm sure we will never be approached by that company again, but then, we wouldn't accept their business again either.

My point is, and always has been, that ethics only count when you actually have a choice to maintain them.  I was approached by EDA Cafe to start doing this podcasts and I made it clear, then, that since I am not getting paid to do any of it, I am going to ask the questions I want to ask and post the answers I get.  I don't have to be honest about it.  In fact, some people think if I engage only in happy talk, some companies might be more interested in hiring me.  But I didn't go into this business because I thought I would get rich from it.  I'm in it for truth and to help the industry right itself.

I still have several interviews to finish editing and posting from my time at DAC.  Not sure if EDA Cafe will allow them to be posted, but I'm going to finish what I started.

Oh, I wasn't entirely accurate about the Real Intent interview being taken down.  It is taken down from EDA Cafe.  It is still available on iTunes (search under Lou Covey or the title From the outside in), here, and soon on New Tech Press and the NTP Network partners.