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Print 15 comment(s) - last by Doormat.. on Sep 3 at 10:37 PM

Has the NDA itch got you down? Why not avoid the problem altogether?

As many people know, I'm a pretty strong opponent of news embargos.  When I was at AnandTech, I can't tell you the number of times I had a CPU or GPU in my hands before an embargo was agreed upon, only to have another editor sign away the AnandTech rights to an exclusive shortly after. A refusal to agree to embargoes was one of the cornerstones on which DailyTech is built.

Over the last nineteen months since I founded DailyTech, I've been accused of stealing information, stealing sources, hacking servers, corrupting the journalistic process and copyright violation.  None of these are true, of course, but when you publish data points months before their planned public release tensions run high.

Over the last few months, I've seen op-ed after op-ed on other publications "denouncing the embargo leakers" and other rhetoric.  Wilson Rothman at Gizmodo ran an editorial today, for example:
The point of an NDA is to keep competitors, retailers and consumers from knowing what's next, for reasons of competitve advantage or product sell-through. But when you can't keep the secret, why should the news suffer?
This is purely naive. The point of an embargo is to maximize media exposure and keep all the journalists happy with each other.  To think Samsung doesn't know what products Nokia plans to announce tomorrow is pure folly.  Embargoes on pricing information generally are put in place to offset sales cannibalization, but let's face it -- that's not the type of information Gizmodo and other publications are annoyed with.

Here's an excerpt from the 2007 DailyTech Handbook:
The DailyTech philosophy regarding embargoes is as follows: almost certainly DailyTech will publish details of a lead on the date of an announcement, even if those details are accumulated from publications that did sign NDAs. At best, an embargo can provide these details and allow the writer to prepare the news announcement just a few hours before this public release date. However, at worst, an embargo could delay the publication of crucial details acquired from different sources by days or weeks. In some cases, carefully crafted embargoes can actually discourage the publication of some details.
Rothman closes:
But I strongly encourage you to recognize that when the cat gets out of the bag, you [companies] should release us from our embargoes. Otherwise, all you'll keep getting from us are secondhand-sourced stories that only tell half of the news, with a tiny follow-up when the product is officially acknowledged.
Aside from the fact that this is pretty much the modus operandi for Gizmodo (and most other news publications) let's step back and think about the silliness thats occuring here.  Publication A cannot talk about Product B because Publication A agreed to it. 

Why would a publication put itself in that position?  The only thing you assure with an embargo is that your news will be swept away into the sea of 10,000 other publications adhering to the same embargo at launch date.  Yes, you'll miss some details at launch -- and, yes, you'll need to stay up until 4 a.m. the night before crunching the facts. And yes, you'll probably get fewer free samples weeks in advance. 

But then again, who ever wanted to read stale spoon-fed press releases anyway?


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Last I checked...
By Doormat on 8/29/2007 6:46:29 PM , Rating: 3
Unless you're AT, Ars, Engadget or some other big site, you don't get kit unless you sign the NDA. And even then it wouldn't be a surprise to me to see one of those sites told they wont get the product until release if they dont sign one.

So really, it seems you're asking all the other sites to go out of business. Don't sign an NDA > don't get the product > no reviews to publish. Or you're just reviewing products after they come out (a la any Apple product).

In fact, I think I like the Apple approach - only five or six publications (e.g. print pubs like NYT, Newsweek, etc) get hardware before its launched and 99% of the publications have to go out and buy it day of to review it.

Also, didn't you make a similar rant like this the last time a big site was bothered by your leaking?




RE: Last I checked...
By oopyseohs on 8/30/2007 2:41:06 AM , Rating: 3
You, sir, are correct. Companies threaten to cease product flow in the future should information be leaked by sites. On the flip side, companies know that if their products do not get out to the larger sites then their exposure is cut dramatically. This threshold for website size I'm afraid is far too high for probably 98% of the pool, so "swim[ming] with the big fish", as a previous poster so eloquently put it, is quite difficult.

Personally, I think Kristopher's initiative to no sign NDA's is both admirable and necessary, as doing so generates much-needed interest in the industry. However, the only way more sites could join him in his rebellion of sorts is if some mass exodus were to take place. Enough smaller sites refuse to sign NDAs to the point where a company cannot simply refuse to send product to the collective sum, and the goal might just be attainable.

My two cents. <3 u kk


RE: Last I checked...
By 265586888 on 8/30/2007 4:37:06 AM , Rating: 1
One question only. So how come the Inquirer and Fudzilla (not FUDzilla, that's another stuff) survived, pure guessing plus site ads or insider sources or both?

quote:
From: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Inquirer

Despite getting scoops, some of the reporters for The Inquirer have a policy against signing non-disclosure agreements. The publication has various connections with the industry; Intel in particular has acknowledged that its staff have a tendency to send details of meetings to The Inquirer. (http://www.theinquirer.net/default.aspx?article=27...


I don't see these two sites out of the business just because they did not publish any NDA hardware reviews...


RE: Last I checked...
By Etsp on 8/30/2007 11:14:56 AM , Rating: 2
Because everything said on The Inquirer needs to be taken with a grain of salt. A lot of what they have to say, comes from "undisclosed sources" and often times, it ends up being completely untrue. They often publish stories that have most of their basis on rumors.

I am a fan of the inquirer because it's enjoyable to read, and they often do get the story right. But when their sources either: don't know what their talking about despite their claims; or are flat out lying, you get stories which turn out to be untrue.

Because of this unreliability, the industry can let them slide a little bit, because no one knows if what they are posting is necessarily true.


RE: Last I checked...
By KristopherKubicki (blog) on 8/30/2007 8:26:32 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
So really, it seems you're asking all the other sites to go out of business. Don't sign an NDA > don't get the product > no reviews to publish. Or you're just reviewing products after they come out (a la any Apple product).

I really don't have a lot of sympathy for publications who built their business models around hand-outs from a few centric companies.

quote:
Or you're just reviewing products after they come out (a la any Apple product).

MacNN and AppleInsider are *huge* sites. Reviewing the products after launch seems to work fine for them. And I think you'll find that is the tip of the iceberg -- there really are a lot of sites that don't adhere to embargoes. I think you'll find the only sites that are struggling in the review industry are the ones that rely on NDA launches for traffic. Believe me, it's hard to gain traction on a well published review when you're essentially competing against everyone and their brother on the same day!

quote:
Also, didn't you make a similar rant like this the last time a big site was bothered by your leaking?

I don't think Gizmodo was referring to DailyTech in that piece.


RE: Last I checked...
By Doormat on 9/3/2007 10:37:51 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
I really don't have a lot of sympathy for publications who built their business models around hand-outs from a few centric companies.

You still didn't address my point - that is to say that the large corporations are in control here, and review sites aren't going to be getting anywhere without signing an NDA. All you did was provide a condescending response, without addressing the issue.

quote:
MacNN and AppleInsider are *huge* sites. Reviewing the products after launch seems to work fine for them.


No shit it works for them, because that’s the ONLY option for Apple sites to review hardware. Apple doesn’t prerelease hardware to online publications. Therefore everyone has to run out on release day. You response is backwards - you cant use Apple, who doesn’t use NDAs, to justify not signing NDAs for companies that only work in the context of NDAs.

quote:
I think you'll find the only sites that are struggling in the review industry are the ones that rely on NDA launches for traffic.


Again, your logic is backwards. Perhaps it is true that sites that rely only on NDA launches for traffic are suffering. I’d argue that there are many sites who are struggling who don’t rely on NDA launches at all, they’re just lacking in other faculties.

Kristopher, your rant and reply to my post only convinced me that at best, you are like the 8 year old child asking his billionaire parents why poor people are poor. You just don’t get it what its like for 99% of hardware sites because you’ve been spoiled all your life.

You were born with a silver spoon in your mouth (working for AT and the contacts you developed there) and now you wonder why anyone cant just get connections inside tech companies to obtain product info.


RE: Last I checked...
By rsmech on 8/30/2007 12:18:41 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
In fact, I think I like the Apple approach - only five or six publications (e.g. print pubs like NYT, Newsweek, etc) get hardware before its launched


This is very funny. What you mean is only give it to mass media outlets who set the trends at launch. Is the NYT where you go to decide which proc. or motherboard to buy next. You must have read the NYT to get your reviews of windows vista. NOT. You go to sites like this. Places were there is a more honest review & were the readers aren't sheeple. What Apple or anyone just releasing to these sources is doing is just selling hype, a name, not the product.

Besides maybe your grandpa reads the NYT, did you ask him if you should buy that new iphone? Get the point. This just sells a name or an image.


RE: Last I checked...
By James Holden on 8/30/2007 12:22:43 PM , Rating: 2
It's never been in Apple's interest to have reviews of its products floating around. Apple only does enough to not arouse suspicion.


RE: Last I checked...
By rsmech on 8/30/2007 2:34:41 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's never been in Apple's interest to have reviews of its products floating around.


You're right, the only thing people can say before something is released is:
"It's cute"
"It's hip"
"I'll look pretty cool with this"

Sounds like good reasons to rush out and buy on launch day. I think that was the point of the article, to have a better understanding of what you are buying on launch day. That is the point of not signing these agreements to inform the customer. Or is more money made off an ignorant customer base? Cash in on the ignorant first before your products flaws can be shown, the rumors are greater than the product. This is the Tickle me Elmo sails pitch-HYPE.


I Completely Agree
By JasonMick (blog) on 8/29/2007 2:12:15 PM , Rating: 5
PRs of hardware released a few weeks before a hardware release or corporate merger, etc. aren't exactly breaking news. Breaking news is when shots, specs, and details are leaked months before.

Breaking news is what has driven the news industry since its inception, its what people love about it.

Websites who sign these agreements are foolish, if they are not be compensated substantially, and even if they are compensated, they border on being unethical. It would be better to be a small website who refuse NDAs and compiles leading edge stories, than a big website with stale stories.

And if companies dont want samples leaked, they shouldn't bother with the NDAs, they just shouldn't send them.

And to other journalistic sites out there, the business is a dog eat dog world, when it comes to cutting edge news, right? Live with it, and go on.

Thats just my thoughts...




RE: I Completely Agree
By therealnickdanger on 8/29/2007 2:28:08 PM , Rating: 2
Agreed ver batim. Hot scoops are what the game is all about!


I second that
By Bioniccrackmonk on 8/29/2007 2:09:56 PM , Rating: 4
Short, sweet and to the point. Your article is very true in its nature and I am glad Dailytech doesn't practice this type of journalism. Keep up the good.




RE: I second that
By James Holden on 8/29/2007 2:27:18 PM , Rating: 2
I also concur. Great work guys.


Entitlement
By JackBeQuick on 8/29/2007 2:12:10 PM , Rating: 3
I've always been shocked by the sense of entitlement most of these bloggers and journalists have. When I was in newscasting twenty years ago, we had press junkets. PR for some company paid for your vacation somewhere exotic, and you covered their angle of the story.

Gee where have we seen that recently?

Quite frankly the fact that all these blogs and stuff have fallen into the trappings that TV and radio did a couple decades ago humors me a little.

Learn to swim with the big fish kids!




30K 3DMark06 Score ?
By OcHungry on 8/30/07, Rating: -1
"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook














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