This week has been a long one with a lot of major news. One of the biggest stories of the week surrounded the world renowned tech site CNET. And after watching the CNET saga unfold, I felt compelled to say something to all of my readers.
First, let me explain the CNET saga for those unfamiliar. Friday, news broke that CNET was being forced by it's parent company CBS to remove the Dish Network "Hopper" DVR set top box form consideration in CNET's "Best of CES Awards" because of ongoing litigation between CBS and Dish, regarding the DVR's ability to skip commercials automatically. Obviously this capability enraged all of the major networks. According to The Verge: "CBS Interactive representatives told The Verge that the Hopper with Sling had been "withdrawn from consideration" from the "Best of CES" awards due to CBS's lawsuit with Dish; that the ban on coverage is limited only to specific products implicated in ongoing litigation with CNET's parent company; and that the ban only applied to product reviews and that news coverage would be exempt. That policy appears to have been hastily put in place. Prior to the move Friday, CNET had reviewed the Hopper and written extensively about the device" CNET's "Best of CES" awards are always one of their annual editorial spotlights and a lot of consumers use them as Consumer Buying Guides.
Making the problem even worse, it has come out that CBS CEO Leslie Moonves actually personally directed Mark Larkin, CBS CBS Interactive News senior-vice president and General Manager, to instruct the staff at CNET to remove the product immediately from consideration for the award once he learned the Hopper would take the top spot. Moonves told Larkin the team would be required to re-vote and pick a new winner from the remaining choices. A source told The Verge that "Larkin was distraught while delivering the news — at one point in tears — as he told the team that he had fought CBS executives who had made the decision."
The entire situation brings to mind the issue of journalistic integrity. When CBS ORDERED the silence of the reviewers at CNET, they quite literally compromised the journalistic integrity of the CNET team, and the website as a whole. With CNET being ranked #52 on Alexa.com, reaching and average of 14.5 Million UNIQUE visitors per month average (based on compete.com stats), CNET is a powerhouse authority in the tech world. Few people haven't been on the site to read a product review or visit Download.com. That said, PEOPLE TRUST CNET. Or they did. I can't help but feel this recent development tanked CNET's credibility and reputation of any and all of the staff at CNET. Making the future of their Reviews site very hazy. With the heavy hand of CBS controlling the editorial staff, one questions whether any review or article from "journalists" at CBS is just a paid product placement to further it's parent companies interests. How the staff of CNET can continue to call themselves journalists is beyond me.
CBS and CNET have an interesting road ahead. It will be interesting to watch this unfold and how it affects the company as a whole.
What I do wish to convey to all my readers is this: Never, under any circumstances, will I compromise my journalistic integrity. My opinions will always be my own. I will always make every attempt to provide as much clear justification for my reviews and opinions as possible. As many of you know, I am highly opinionated. I will not endorse a product I don't believe in. I never have. Even when I ran retail stores, I would only support and endorse the games and products that I believed in. I love sharing new tech with all of you. And my god's honest opinion regarding it. Good OR bad. And you can always count on that.