Letter From the Editor

About Those Ads From SHRM Members For Transparency Group …

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I’ve worked in the media a long time — in newspapers, magazines (both consumer and B-to-B), and online — and if there is one thing I’ve learned from all that experience, it’s this: you should never confuse advertising with content.

To put that another way, just because someone buys an ad doesn’t mean they get any special consideration when it comes to journalistic coverage.

Now, I know the cynics and skeptics out there will want to rush to point out examples of where that isn’t exactly the way it happens, and I agree that there are some media outlets that have no problem blurring the line (or fracturing the wall) between content and advertising. Yes, it happens and it is shameful and confusing when it does.

In my own personal experience, however, that hasn’t been the case — and I wouldn’t work somewhere were it was.

A highly newsworthy story

This is a long way of getting into something that I thought I should highlight and pre-emptively address before someone asks about it: starting today, there will be ads from the group SHRM Members for Transparency that will be running here on TLNT.

We have covered the back and forth between the SHRM Board of Directors and the Transparency Group in great detail over the past two years. In fact, TLNT was covering the story when no one else was (you can read the first few stories from 2010 herehere and here), and frankly, everyone else in the HR media space has been trailing TLNT’s coverage at just about every turn.

In other words, this has been a story we’ve been focused on for quite some time now, because it’s not often that you see the Board of Directors of an organization as large and prominent as SHRM get challenged by a group of equally prominent former leaders of that very same organization. That makes it highly newsworthy in my view, because such a high-profile challenge is not something you see very often.

My guess is that the SHRM Members for Transparency group has decided to advertise here on TLNT for the same reason most advertisers do — because they want to reach our readers and rapidly-growing audience. That’s just a guess, of course, because I don’t routinely talk to advertisers about why they advertise and can only guess at their overall thinking.

Ads have nothing to do with coverage

So, those ads you’ll be seeing from the Transparency group are really no different than any other ads you see here on TLNT. They have nothing to do with any coverage of the issues that have appeared here on TLNT in the past, nor will they have anything to do with how we’ll continue to cover the story in the future.

And by the way, the Society for Human Resource Management has also done some advertising here at TLNT in the past (I thank them for their support), and I hope they will continue to do so in the future. The difference is that SHRM does a great deal of advertising in a great many places and has done so for a long time, while the Transparency group  has done very little, if any, as far as I know.

Have thoughts about any of this? As always, I’m happy to field any questions, queries. or comments on this topic, or, about anything else we do here at TLNT.

John Hollon is Vice President for Editorial of TLNT.com, and the former Editor of Workforce Management magazine and workforce.com. An award-winning journalist, John has written extensively about HR, talent management, leadership, and smart business practices. Contact him at john@tlnt.com, and follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/johnhollon.
  • Mike Losey

    John:  Well said and we understand your efforts to be impartial. In fact it is like our current SMFT situation with the greater than the 4,000 SHRM Chapter presidents, Board officials, State and Regional representatives who are on our email distribution list.

    We are not asking those chapter officials to necessarily side with SMFT. SHRM has constructive control of the SHRM-related communications these leaders receive and what SHRM officials say about SMFT is less than flattering. All we want is for the thousands and
    thousands of SHRM members within the SHRM chapter network is to look at both sides — SHRM’s position and SMFT’s position.

    The recent letter from SHRM’s CEO Hank Jackson is a good example of the major advantage SHRM has in terms of communicating with SHRM leaders and members. In his letter he attempted to totally rationalize the issues involved and belittle our SMFT efforts.

    We have prepared a response to Jackson, challenging each issue in order to allow SHRM voluntary leaders and members to decide what type of Board of Directors they want and under what conditions. 

    That comparison is being shared with chapter and other SHRM leaders and is available to everyone on our website:  http://www.shrmmembersfortransparency.com. Through your continued fact-based reporting we are hopeful that we can also share our message with the vast majority of SHRM members who are At Large members and are not affiliated with a SHRM chapter. .

    Losey

    • Luke

      hrough your continued fact-based reporting we are hopeful that we can also share our message with the vast majority of SHRM members who are At Large members and are not affiliated with a SHRM chapter. .

      Good thought by the way …
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