Comment on Editorial Integrity

To those of you “concerned about my integrity” now that I am taking sponsors, well, I understand your concern. Like you, I wish I was rich, too. Filthy, stinking, roll around in it, and if not Scrooge McDuck, then Mitt Romney rich. That would be spectacular. I’m glad you agree, and thanks for your prayers.

So, while we’re waiting for Godot, I want you to know that taking sponsors wasn’t my first choice. My first choice was the Lottery. Sponsorship wasn’t my second choice, either, if you must know. That was pulling a Michael Fremer and getting bought out by someone like, say, Source Interlink Media, but sadly, the phone has yet to ring. Apparently, Fremer is keeping them busy.

So, there I was, hemorrhaging cash ….

I thought about becoming a paid reviewer. You know, one of those writers on the masthead for one of those other websites you read compulsively. I thought about this a lot, actually — right up until some of the editors from those other websites you read compulsively told me how much a reviewer actually gets paid. Yeah. Quick aside — reviewers cannot be doing this for the money. Holy shit and fuck a duck, there’s just no way someone can make a real living as an audio writer. There’s a reason, folks, why reviewers are retired and/or old — they must do this for fun. Or for their ego. But money? OMFG, no, no way, no how.

I truly did think about just selling my content off to Positive Feedback, or some other organization or Web outfit. Ultimately, I felt that it’d be better, more fun, but most importantly, a helluva lot less work to just retain control and “do my own thing” instead of trying to offset costs by selling articles for, essentially, peanuts per. Besides, if I own it, I can fuck around with it pretty much for forever, making changes, adding content, correcting grammar, blahblahblah. If it goes in print, it’s done, forever. Hmm. Yeah. Anyway, yes, it’s true that this going it alone is a far longer road and a much harder climb and all that, but I actually like doing this, so “rushing in” to something seemed foolhardy. Building a brand takes time. It takes energy and creativity, too, but mostly, it takes time. Sponsors will help me spool things out a bit longer. Until the Lotto Fairy visits. Could be any day now.

So, a word about what the condition and color of my soul.

When I sign a sponsor, I make it pretty clear that this isn’t advertising they’re signing up for. I’m not looking to drive visitors to them and I don’t really care about selling their brand for them. This isn’t what sponsorship is for — that’s advertising, and I don’t accept advertising.

Pretty thin distinction, though, and I’ll admit that.

What I will take from sponsors is product for review. It’s content, folks, and I’ll happily take what I can get and talk about it. Of course, I have the same policy for non-sponsors, and it’s this: if you send it, I’ll write about it. There are two caveats, of course. One, I’ll get to it when I can get to it. Despite appearances, this is a part-time gig. Two, if I think a product is trash, shit, crap, or utter bullshit, I’ll send it back without a word being printed. I’ve done it before and I’ll do it again.

For those of you confused by this, let me lay it out for you.

I greatly respect the work of the many, many audiophile brands that are out there. I also acknowledge that there are people behind those brands. I further acknowledge that anything I, or any of my peers, write can and will be used as advertising (and is as a matter of routine, with or without our consent or knowledge). I can’t help that, and quite frankly, that’s one of the main reasons manufacturers are so willing to work with writers — free ad copy! But moving on. I also further acknowledge that my words, or the words of my peers, can also drive purchasing decisions — which is asinine, but a fact of life — and it’s within the realm of possibility that such words could cause harm or damage to a person, a reputation, or a brand. Which would suck. Not from a liability point of view, which is a real concern, but rather because I actually happen to like the people I’ve met and I’m not keen on causing harm or mayhem. Do unto others and all that happy horseshit, you know? This doesn’t mean I won’t be critical. Far from it. But, perhaps most importantly, I do also acknowledge that I am a fallible, stupid, unobservant, and largely clueless S.O.B. I miss shit. I mis-say shit. I am shit with grammar and language generally. Many times, I don’t understand shit. Occasionally, I get it all wrong. Or — and this is a biggie — there’s something about my system that just can’t or won’t jive, and I’m just too stupid (or poor) to be able to do something about it.

But I also don’t like flinging shit around or those who do so. More properly, I think it’s terrifically easy to write negative copy. But it’s also lazy, and generally speaking, shit writing. So, given my general anti-shit approach, I choose to abstain. Don’t like the policy? Go bang an orangutan.

So, with all that said, sponsorship doesn’t change any of this. Since I’m not likely to go negative in the first place, sponsorship isn’t going to mean me putting lipstick on pigs just because that pig happens to have a banner on my site.

You don’t have to believe me, and I’m quite sure that no matter what I say, there will be a great many of you that will remain unconvinced, that I have gone to the Dark Side, suborned by the Mitt Romney money that has suddenly rolled through my listening room like a black tide, washing away my morals, my integrity, and my astonishingly good taste.

Sorry you feel that way.

By the way, next time you see the Lotto Fairy, tell her I said: “Any time now would be just great. Yeah. Thanks.”

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