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A Letter To Our Readers

The Editorial Staff Of LinuxWorld Magazine Would Like To Set The Record Straight

The editorial staff of LinuxWorld Magazine would like to set the record straight on our efforts and intentions with regards to what we publish on LinuxWorld.com and LinuxWorld Magazine. Due to an unfortunate series of events, we recently advised our publisher to remove content from a sister Web site of another title that does not adhere to the company's publishing guidelines. The management promptly agreed with our decision on this subject and removed this article. In the wake of this recent controversial story, the company is making the best efforts to examine and remove any other content that potentially "does not adhere to our editorial standards." This process will be completed as soon as practical.

I would also like to share with you a few other details. The "editorial board members" of LinuxWorld are appointed from among the leading professionals and participants of the Linux community at large. LinuxWorld's independent advisory board and the core editorial team(s) have full editorial decision-making authority in everything that goes to print. Technical editors are not staff employees. This is the same as all other editorial advisory boards of SYS-CON's magazines.

This means that all SYS-CON editors - who are among the top practitioners in their fields - are most knowledgeable and passionate about their subject matters. They funnel that passion into the accurate and unbiased editorial content that you look for in the pages of our magazine(s) every month and in every new issue. That is also the key to the overwhelming success of LinuxWorld since our  first issue was launched.

We believe that a magazine such as LinuxWorld, supported by hands-on participants and leading industry experts, offers real-life editorial content that you will not find elsewhere. Our compensation and deep satisfaction is in knowing that we are providing a valuable service that benefits Open Source, Linux, and everyone in the industry. This is how LinuxWorld differentiates itself from other venues. On the pages of LinuxWorld you read articles written by the most knowledgeable and experienced professionals in the world.

Last but not least, we are pleased to announce that with the launch of our new Web site, we now made all our archived content and past issues available online. LinuxWorld archives will soon establish itself as one of the leading Linux and Open Source editorial collections on the Web as our readers start to discover and refer to these pages on a regular basis. Please be sure to take a look at the "LinuxWorld Topics" section of our new Web site to explore our archived content grouped under a rich number of categories.

Before I end my note, I would like to take this opportunity to share with you our publishing guidelines. We believe in the credo of “do no harm to any person.”  We pursue the truth but not at the cost of hurting someone or trying them publicly without giving them the opportunity to respond. The following guidelines are set forth as the standard under which the LinuxWorld editors work.

We believe in the Golden Rule. In all our dealings we strive to be friendly and courteous, as well as fair and compassionate. We treat sources, subjects, and colleagues as human beings deserving of respect. We show compassion, show good taste, and avoid pandering to lurid curiosity.

We believe in complete honesty and integrity in publishing.

We make commitments with care, and then live up to them. In all things, we do what we say we are going to do.

We insist on giving our best effort in everything we undertake. Furthermore, we see a huge difference between "good mistakes" (best effort, bad result) and "bad mistakes" (sloppiness or lack of effort). We admit to mistakes if they happen and act promptly to correct them.

We avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, or social status.

We feel a sense of urgency on matters related to our readers. We show ownership of our problems and we are always responsive.

We also choose to pursue the truth through honest and forthright methods, never by clandestine or surreptitious methods unless conventional methods will not yield vital information to the public We disclose these methods in any story and only pursue them as a last resort.

Our mission is to support the Open Source community by giving them the strongest voice and sharing information about their accomplishments in a truthful and positive way. We also strive to cover the shortcomings or problems we see with Linux and Open Source from an objective point of view.

These guidelines are inspired by Charles Brewer, founder of MindSpring, the Society of Professional Journalists, the Christian Science Monitor, and the values of the LinuxWorld editorial staff.

We want to express our sincere best wishes to Pamela Jones of Groklaw (www.groklaw.net) and wish her the best in her endeavors.

Mark R. Hinkle
Editor-in-chief
LinuxWorld Magazine

More Stories By Mark R. Hinkle

Mark Hinkle is the Vice President of Community at Cloud.com. the maker of the open source cloud computing management software, CloudStack He also is along-time open source expert and advocate. He is a co-founder of both the Open Source Management Consortium and the Desktop Linux Consortium. He has served as Editor-in-Chief for both LinuxWorld Magazine and Enterprise Open Source Magazine. Hinkle is also the author of the book, "Windows to Linux Business Desktop Migration" (Thomson, 2006). His blog on open source, technology, and new media can be found at http://www.socializedsoftware.com.

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Most Recent Comments
Eric 05/15/05 10:32:03 PM EDT

Let me preface my comments. I am only a casual reader of Sys-Con properties. I am neither a Linux enthusiast nor a UNIX enthusiast. My background involves years of Microsoft operating systems, and prior to that MS-DOS.

It's not in my nature to comment, but I feel compelled to say something here.

After reading several articles posted here and elsewhere, including Free Software Magazine, I must admit I am quite disappointed that an editor would publish an article such as Maureen O'Gara's recent attack, that included personal information, which gave out someone's home address and phone number. It crossed the line and should have never been allowed in a journalistic publication.

Shame on you!

That you've admit to publishing the article, makes you lose all credibility with me. I shall never read a Sys-Con publication again. I shall never subscribe to a Sys-Con publication. And I was not speak of you positively if ever questioned about any of your publications.

Sys-Con is unethical, and I for one will not support you in any form.

Dafydd 05/15/05 08:01:51 PM EDT

Your words on ethics are grand. However, there appears to be a substantial credibility gap between the values that you talk about in your letter and your recent article by Maureen O'Gara.

You are the editor-in-chief for the LinuxWorld Magazine, yet you do not seem able to take responsibility for the content that is published on the magazine's web site, which (presumably) you approved prior to publication. If you were not consulted, or if you did not approve of the article and you were overruled by the publisher, perhaps you should have resigned. At least your reputation would be intact.

Brian Ricci 05/15/05 12:00:39 AM EDT

Does it really matter that you are shutting the gate after the horse has left? The damage is done, your guys did it. I just hope that you dont end up with blood on your hands as a result of publishing very private information about a person. Would Maureen Ogara like it if someone did an article on here publishing her addresses and pictures of her houses with phone numbers of her family and their addresses.
To state at this point that you did not mean any harm is ludicrous. People like Ogara, Didio, Foley et al are just paid Microsoft and/or SCO shills. Their integrity has been compromised and their sincerity rings hollow.
This is a very dark day for your publications, I doubt that your best wishes for Pamaela Jones will carry any weight nor will it make up for the damages you have done. I only hope that Ms. Jones will be successful seeking damages against the pubisher and Ms. Ogara peronsally.

freecode 05/14/05 08:42:50 PM EDT

How is Sys-Con connected to IDG and the use of the Linux World brand? Personally, after Mr. Kircali's interview, I am inclined to think that Sys-Con is doing a serious disservice to its readership and the Linux World brand. I can't think of a good reason for any company to continue to support a publisher who can't grasp why Linux Business Week, Maureen O'Gara and the whole vitriolic monologue has been nothing short of the zealotry that she accused the community of embracing.

We wish you well in your endeavors as well, but I don't think that the magazine or its reporting is salvageable. IDG would do well to look at how the brand is being handled and make another choice with a different media outlet. This is the kind of thing that tends to lead to the end of businesses. It's a major faux pas that only a miracle could cure, and I don't foresee that unless there is significant change in the editorial policies, actions and control of Sys-Con media.

From reading Fuat's interview, that just doesn't seem likely or possible.

Have a nice day.

freecode

Howard Owen 05/14/05 08:41:21 PM EDT

Don't you hate it when your boss undercuts you like that? I won't join the troop expressing anger at you personally for what seems, in hindsight, to be an apology for an unrepentent money grubber of a publisher. Perhaps that's because I subscribed to the online edition of Linux World the day before you published this piece, on the assumption that Sys-Con had done the right thing. I now regret that, given Kircaali's interview at freesoftwaremagazine.com. I also think that you are probably on salary at LW, which means that resigning in protest would be a harder choice for you than for the other editors, who are unpaid volunteers. However, it seems to me you have little choice in the matter now, given the temper of the community your magazine is intended to appeal to. Regardless, I just wanted to offer a small note of sympathy for someone who I see as the butt of a cruel joke perpetrated by his employer.

michael 05/14/05 08:25:16 PM EDT

Sys-con has proven beyond question that it, and its editors, are no friends of Linux or the open source community. I am unsurprised that what sounded promising just a few days ago has turned into a furious back-pedal.
I do not, and will not, read or recommend any Sys-con publication to anyone, not even my friends who own birds.

Bob Koch 05/14/05 05:59:25 PM EDT

I will not be as kind as some of the others. To put it bluntly - "Your actions speak so loud I can't hear what you say."

O'Gara was wrong and you know it. Don't try to make it OK with double speak. You are wrong for not accepting responsibilty for allowing the article to be published. You are wrong for allowing O'Gara to work for you as long as she has.

May Pamela Jones sue you into bankruptcy. Then maybe you will understand how wrong you were. Until then it's obvious that you "Just don't get it".

Jim Medlock 05/14/05 10:45:38 AM EDT

This is an impressive statement of journalistic standards and ethics. However, the question remains - if these are in place, why weren't they followed. It seems odd to me that with such stringent policies and guidelines that Ms. O'Hara's obnoxious and ill-informed piece could have been published.

I suspect that these policies are retroactive instead of proactive.

Kurt Isane 05/14/05 04:14:14 AM EDT

Mr. Hinkle,

unfortunately, your words don't match the words of your boss, CEO and sole owner of SYS-CON, Fuat Kircaali. To quote Mr. Kircaali's words from an interview

http://www.freesoftwaremagazine.com/free_issues/pills/fuat_kircaali_inte...

> What does ethics have anything to do with
> professional reporting and journalism?

So, Mr. Kircaali still can't see anything wrong in publishing that piece of "journalism" from Maureen O'Gara. Unfortunately, he doesn't see a need for an appology, like you don't see the need.

You can write a thousand more words about your high journalistic standards. But the facts speak different. The facts are that SYS-CON's journalistic and ethic standards have been rather low in the past - otherwise Maureen O'Gara article should have made it straigt to the waste basket - and that the bossman who calls the shots doesn't see a need to change anything, doesn't see the wrongdoing (wrongdoing close to being illigal), paints himself as the victim, issues legal threats and simply doesn't get it.

I am disgusted.

scott 05/13/05 07:22:06 PM EDT

Very nice guidelines you have. To quote them as you did with only a hint at "unfortunate events" leaves the impression that can't think of any reason to apologize for anything. How about owning up to the hurt you caused to innocent individuals? I'm realizing that could have been my grandmother. It's alway correct to say "I'm sorry" if that's the truth. And I don't buy the lawyers-won't-let-me line. Speak the truth for a change, without the weasel words.

Pat 05/13/05 07:50:06 AM EDT

err, where's the apology? This is all a very nice explaination of sys-con's policies and procedures. But by your editors fault, someone was attacked personally. And I can't find anywhere in you explaination where it says "sorry bout that". There's a lot of "these guys are responsible for that, and those guys do this, and we pride ourselves in the content etc etc." But someone NEEDS to apologise. Ultimately, SOMEBODY read the article and said "Okay, publish this." Unless of course your "journalists" post their own articles without any review, which I doubt very much.

So where's the apology? Where "that guy" the sayd "okay publish". HE should come out and at LEAST say it was wrong and he is sorry. It would be the least he could do. Till then, you guys ain't off the hook.

romana 05/13/05 02:33:50 AM EDT

I am unsurprised, in a litigitous world, that you chose not to utter an apology to Pamela Jones on the extreme violation of hers, and her family's, privacy. Unsurprised, but contemptuous. You tout your values, without having a true understanding of what values truly mean. The standards of Ms O'Gara's piece were not journalistic, but gutter tripe press, and you should be ashamed to have had any involvement in it. A simple apology would have won you much respect in the Open Source community. Instead, you have mocked the concept of journalistic ethics.

Archie 05/12/05 11:56:28 PM EDT

===QUOTE
Due to an unfortunate series of events, we recently advised our publisher to remove content from a sister Web site of another title that does not adhere to the company's publishing guidelines.
===QUOTE

There is a fundamental disconnection in your letter. Leaving aside the obvious distance and responsibility-shunning in the above quote, the rules and ethics you describe are held by "we", the putative employees of sys-con.com/LinuxWorld. However, the "editorial board members" are explicitly described as not being employees of LinuxWorld. This seems to mean that the people who decide the content of the magazine are not actually employees of the magazine. Not only are they not employees, but their entire role is enclosed in scare quotes and is not even capitalized. Whose interests are likely to be served first? What does the SPJ say about the (mysterious) "editorial board" having complete control of content? Nowhere in the letter is this discrepancy addressed or acknowledged.

I don't see how the integrity of your magazine is supported by admitting that the magazine is an ongoing compendium of stories inserted by outside experts who have no connection to the interests of the employees of the company, save maintaining a continuing conduit for whatever they decide should be in the pages of your magazine. At the very least you have an obvious conflict of interest by not having editorial policies that apply to your freelance editors, and the editorial policies you *do* adhere to only apply to people who don't shape the content.

Furthermore, when describing your ethics, you say you "admit to mistakes if they happen and act promptly to correct them," along with several other points of note. However, this all seems to be filler or responsive to unmentioned issues. Is there something on your mind? Perhaps in the name of "complete honesty and integrity" you could write a follow-up, since this letter is evidently incomplete.

fuzzywzhe 05/12/05 10:42:33 PM EDT

> The "editorial board members" of LinuxWorld are
> appointed from among the leading professionals
> and participants of the Linux community at large.

Really?

Who are they?

You just seem to be PR shills, Edward Bernay's style.

R. Growler 05/12/05 09:18:12 PM EDT

Thank you -
For clearing up a few issues; at least for me.
I *do* however wonder why you let it go this far. While writing this I can still see a few of mrs. O'Gara's .. er.. "musings" on the right side of my screen (under "more top stories") and reading it I find that most of what she writes is... (I dont know how to put this)- Not exacty the truth.
I did (and do) not mind that she is rabidly against Linux, that *is* her perogative. I do mind however that she was able to pass this off as as the gospel truth and allowed to attack ms. Jones of Groklaw (and, for that matter every linux user and developer on the planet) *on a personal level* again and again without having to back her accusations and statements up with verifiable facts.
I don't know how things work at your place of work mr. Hinkle but I at least would have tried to to talk to my employee or contractor and demanded at least a minimum level of quality of the work delivered.
Granted, Groklaw *is* biased. But Groklaw backs its bias up with facts. Mrs. O'Gara did not even try to do that. She was, however, quick to cry foul when she met resistance to her views and would blame anything on homicidal Linux zealots.. Fun to watch from the sidelines: On one hand, we have an allegded 61 year old Jehovas Witness who don't even allow any swearing in the comments at her site and who really don't want to be a celebrity. And on the other, we have a *gun carrying* mormon of a CEO who have been caught lying so many times it has become the norm..
Now do your own math :)
Oh, and by the way I really do not care what religion the respective protagonists subscribe to, I just added it in since mrs. O'gara made such a point of it.
Disclaimer:I use Linux at home (so does my mother:)), I use Irix & Solaris at work. Sometimes I have to use Windows XP (Civ III will be the end of me). half of my employees use Solaris (Sunray really works for us), the other half -I suspect- use whatever the heck they want (Linux, Windows and OSX I gather from the nerfball-war scores posted).
oh, and English is not even my third language so I am sorry for my cumbersome syntax and ditto spelling errors..

- R. Growler.