00:20 AM

Was the Tibco post a puff piece for an advertiser?

By Richard Koman for SiliconValleyWatcher.com

On his blog today, Dan Gillmor suggests that the post about our first sponsor is "advertising, and should be explicitly labeled that way." He compares the situation to a newspaper running a front-page story announcing that a new company is now advertising with the paper. We can all agree this would be unseemly pandering and on the face of it the posting amounts to the same thing.

UPDATE: Tom Murphy at PR Opinions first questioned the post in his entry Blogging for Cash. He follows up on this post, noting that I neglected to link to him in the first place, with A storm in a teacup?

But here is the difference. SVW is both blog and publication. We reserve the right to act like a blog at times. Landing a serious company as a founding sponsor is a very big deal to us; in the context of what most any other blog is earning on the basis of editorial content, it's a big deal.

So we'll take a page from Hunter S. Thompson and put ourselves in the story when we're a story. I really think this is a story about our success and about the kind of sponsors we are seeking, and to call it advertising is less honest than writing it up the way it is.

You can call it a puff piece but if anything was being puffed it was this site, not Tibco. The post is perfectly clear to all who read it. "We got a sponsor; we're psyched; we actually know and respect this company."

Bottom line: Websites are not newspapers. We're making up business models as we go. Stories about advertisers are not necessarily advertising. We'll always strive to be clear and upfront about any financial relationship.