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SYS-CON Media Founder Featured on the Cover of Forbes

CNet blogger Dana Blankenhorn attacks SYS-CON Media Founder and CEO Fuat Kircaali in two seperate blog entries

A Publisher's Ethics
Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

By and large publishers do not share journalism's ethical sense.
Instead they apply business ethics.

While a journalist's ethics, like that of any other claimed profession, may hold them well short of what's illegal, businessmen must go right up to the legal line, even risk crossing it, to stay ahead of the competition. Businessmen who don't think that way are easily crushed by those who do.

In journalism, business ethics often push journalists over lines they should not cross. Robert Novak practices business ethics. The National Enquirer practices business ethics. Those who choose to believe Novak or the Enquirer accept it.

And Fuat Kircaali (right), CEO of Sys-Con Media, has apparently chosen to apply business ethics in the Maureen scandal. (He has hinted at this before.)

This weekend this blog was told that Kircaali accepted the resignations of three senior LinuxWorld editors -- James, Dee-Ann, and Steve, rather than personally release and renounce O'Gara.

UPDATE: "We were unpaid editors but we devoted a lot of time and energy to it," according to this blog. This makes sense given Kircaali's business model, as we will discuss later on.

Apparently, Kircaali even approved Maureen's assault in advance. Here's what he told.

"The language of the story is in the typical style of Maureen, generally entertaining and easy to read, and sometimes it could be regarded as offensive, depending on how you look at it. I decided to publish the article. It was published because it was an accurate news story."

More after the break.

Sys-Con is one of the most powerful computer publishing companies in the U.S. While rivals Ziff-Davis, CMP and IDG have fallen on hard times while paying editors well and preaching the value of ethical journalism, Kircaali has become the industry's low cost provider.

In the poverty that is 21st century computer publishing, Kircaali's strategy has made business sense. He has delivered large quantities of papers and low ad rates.

Readers and advertisers must now decide how they feel about this. Kircaali says Maureen, the Robert Novak of the computer press, is A-OK by him. After all, she's delivering highly readable content at a very low cost to Sys-Con, bearing the editorial costs at her own G Two Computer Intelligence.

Personally I will not write for any Sys-Con publication, I won't read one, and if I knew their advertiser list I'd boycott the lot of them. That's just my personal feeling, as a consumer, as a writer, as a journalist. When a business offends me I can choose not to trade with them.

This is the risk any business runs when it applies business ethics in the face of a professional scandal. Often the market is forgiving . CNN still uses Novak and is still on the air. The Enquirer is still being published.

How do you feel? More important, if you feel strongly, what do you plan to do about it?

The Real Open Source Challenge is Getting Paid

Posted by Dana Blankenhorn

I've been a professional writer for over 25 years now. And what is most striking about the last few years, besides the rise of open source and blogging, is the rise of forced amateurism.

I've written about this before regarding Fuat Kircaali. He has built a fortune on the backs of unpaid labor. (No, that's not Fuat to the right, it's St. Martin and the Beggar, by El Greco, from iBiblio.com.)

He's not alone. Far from it, in fact. Three years into a supposed tech recovery and most of the offers I'm getting, still, are for "exposure" or "contacts," not dollars. Even those publishers who do profess to pay something, such as Newsfactor, in fact pay very little. Professional tech journalism, the field I've been part of for 20 years, is circling the drain.

The same is increasingly true of professional software development. The rise of open source disguises a disquieting fact. Many programmers today can't get work, and salaries are down. Most commentary is to the effect that programmers should "get over it." No wonder fewer want to be in the profession. I notice that CEO and sales pay rates in that industry aren't falling.

The fact is that trends designed to liberate this business, so far, are succeeding only in impoverishing the people in it. I've said this before, but the problem here is one of business models.

More Stories By Engin Sezici

Engin Sezici is a travelling blogger-at-large, who held corporate positions at SYS-CON Media from 1995 through 2004. Engin, who retired in 2004, likes to travel through Europe and Greek Islands, reports on technology subjects from around the world and lives on a private island in the Bahamas wih his twin brother when he is not on the road. You can reach him at engin(at)sys-con.com.