Recently, a reporter wrote an article about Black Duck Code Center that was fiction and written with antagonism and not journalism. It is trash or, more accurately, fiction. While she has a history of misreporting BDS and other companies’ news, this story came about without an interview, touching base with our PR firm Schwartz Communications, or even reading our press release, so I feel compelled to write this blog post.
One of the great pleasures of my job is doing interviews with the press and analysts, and subsequently reading the results. I see an interview as a collaborative project between a journalist and me, with a goal of informing readers about something newsworthy -- a new product, business relationship, market trend, or something innovative and unique. The two parties engage in this project assuming that both parties will be fair in their use of facts and opinions. No matter what the news being reported, the objective of both parties is knowledge.
There is one immutable truth: In order for journalism to work, both companies and journalists have to be objective and use facts. That requires journalists to divulge any financial relationships, prejudices, or other influences that would shape a story or blog posting. It's just the right thing to do. This is not only a canon of journalism, but the general ethical standard underlies most communications between people.
In my mind the journalists I interact with most frequently carry with them a capital “J” in their occupational title because of the deep respect I have for them. They come from an ethical and professional place. They are friendly but trained not become too close to those on their respective beats. This group is not small. It includes Scott Kirsner, Innovation Economy columnist for the Boston Globe, Darryl Taft, and Steven Vaughan-Nichols at eWeek, Sean Kerner at internetnews.com, John Waters at ADT, Don Marti at LinuxWorld, Mary Jo Foley and Dana Blankenhorn at ZDNet, Paul Krill of InfoWorld, and many others. They use facts and write articles that are accurate and informative. They understand the nature of relationship between companies and journalists.
Alas, there are some exceptions to this rule.
The title of the article that touched off this post is an article by Maureen O'Gara entitled “Black Duck's Code Center Close to Hatching: Under a pressure from HP Black Duck says it will roll out a thing called Code Center.”
O’Gara (or an editor who wrote this headline based on her article) pulled that title out of the air or someplace else. Two weeks ago HP’s FOSSology was announced, and last week Code Center introduced. This headline, and the article, is like trying to compare apples and zebras. Maybe in O’Gara's mind these events are related, but on planet earth they are not. I truly hope this is fiction and not an attack on Black Duck by O’Gara or something inspired by our lightweight competition.
O’Gara writes: “Under a bit a pressure now that HP has open sourced its own IP identification system as FOSSology, Black Duck says it will roll out a thing called Code Center by the end of the quarter.”
Let's get the chronology straight: Code Center has been under development for 22 months. The original spec was written in the fall of 2004. HP influenced nothing -- the inspiration came from our development team and pressure came from customers – they want this product from us to compliment protexIP! Time to market is everything these days.
Roll out “a thing” called Code Center? Why didn't she call our PR agency or Black Duck to get the facts on Code Center?
O’Gara continues: “Previously Black Duck has been called in as something of an after-thought.”
In one sentence she has insulted hundreds of companies that are using Black Duck’s protexIP in production, dedicating many hours to planning its deployment, integration into processes, and producing reports that were only dreamt of before 2004 when we started shipping the product.
Finally, O’Gara writes: “…Code Center is also supposed to work with whatever component usage policies a company might have and make them less labor-intensive.”
Readers might remember O’Gara’s 2005 run-in with Groklaw blogger Pamela Jones, which led more than a few to question her ethics. (Summaries of the feud are here, here and here.) Others credited her for her “dogged” questioning. In fact, O’Gara’s bio congratulates her for asking tough questions and “getting to the heart of stories.”
Personally, I’d welcome incisive questions about Black Duck and would appreciate any honest attempt to get the facts straight. If such an effort is too much, perhaps she he ought to consider another profession. I simply wish she’d stop pretending to be something she’s not -- a journalist.