Obliged to report

Kerry Knudsen

We had another successful survey project this year, and we deeply appreciate the participation of those that received a survey and responded. As usual, we received a large number of appreciative comments, and those are real day-brighteners.

We had a few comments (anonymous) that pointed to perceived shortcomings in the survey. Those are important, as well, and deserve a reply (public).

Two respondents questioned whether we were trying to bias the survey against our competitor. The answer is no, but every question has a bias. If I ask whether you like yellow better than orange, I am inviting you to show a bias. Therefore, a question is not a bias for the purposes of surveys. Bias in surveys refers to the sample, the manner of reporting or other facts pertaining to the report.

But here’s a better answer. Unbeknownst to most people, the Society of Professional Journalists, Code of Ethics requires that publishers report unethical behaviour of other journalists. It says, “Journalists should: …Expose unethical conduct in journalism, including within their
organizations.”

The reason for this is that it is very hard for the law to hold journalists to account because of protections, so we need to police ourselves. You can read it online at www.spj.org, and click on Ethics about two-thirds down the page. It is also linked on our home page, along with other standards.

The dilemma is that if we follow the herd of ducks that ignore the Code in this matter, then we are in violation of the Code. (I know; I know – it says “should.” And virgins “should” resist seduction.) We endorse the Code.

Here is an example. We asked readers whether they value original content. Over 99 percent said they do. One percent said they don’t. Since there were well over 200 responses, that one percent represents two responses. We
would call them statistical perversions or statistical deviants. We would also speculate that they are not bona fide readers, either, but people with names that are familiar.

Why is this relevant? Because our competitor, Woodworking, copies approximately 100 percent of its “new product” releases from itself from issue to issue, providing approximately zero original content. Therefore, with the May/June 2019 issue, all of the new product announcements were copied into the July/August issue. Of 31 new product announcements in the July/August issue, only two were different, and they were copied to Sept/Oct. The rest were from May/June. The Sept/Oct issue had 14 that ran in both May/June and July/August issues, two that also ran in the July/August issue and three that also ran in the May/June issue. Et cetera.

You can obviously check this for yourself by simply looking at past issues of Woodworking, but the upshot is that any advertiser that thinks he is getting readers because 99 percent of you read original content is being defrauded.

Harsh? You bet. But if I’m lying I will get sued, and if I’m not I’m obliged to report. This is not fun, but it’s my job.

 

Once again I would like to tip my hat to the readers of Wood Industry magazine at the end of another year. And a special thanks to Nicholl Spence with nsGraphic Design, Adrian Holland with Omnidataservices.com, Mike Edwards with Edwards Media and Design and our associate publisher, Stephen King, as well as all their families, each person of which I know and cherish, for their loyalty and service to this audience. And a special thanks to my wife, my love and guardian angel, Lee Ann, for all her support.

As we enter the holiday season together once more, Merry Christmas to each and every one of you, and Happy New Year.