Anyone who knows Kara Swisher also knows that she has an ethics statement so long it could give Atlas Shrugged a run for its money. But her belief is that in the age of new media, we can’t be too careful; truly it’s better to be safe rather than sorry.
Specifically, Swisher always works to be very clear about her involvement with Google via her spouse Megan Smith, has been affiliated with Google for a while, and currently works with Google[x]. To that end Swisher has not only separated both her and Smith’s incomes, but she also doesn’t discuss any details about her Google-related posts with Smith before they’re published. She also doesn’t avoid reporting on Google because of Smith.
Last Friday Swisher had a fireside chat with our very own Frank Gruber as part of Tech Cocktail Week. She elaborated on why it’s so important for her to have this ethics statement, why she stuck with it for all these years, and how it’s helping her as the co-executive editor at Re/code.
“I thought it [the statement] was important because my partner Megan went to Google before it was Google. I kept agitating at the Wall Street Journal of how we were going to do the disclosure statement, but in print you really can’t have a disclosure,” says Swisher.
But when she switched over to her role as the co-executive editor of AllThingsD, Swisher finally got the chance to add the disclosure statement she wanted so badly.
“I put a serious disclosure there to really explain things. I believe readers are smart and I don’t look down at readers. They need to know the facts, and then they can decide,” says Swisher.
Swisher abides by this code of journalistic conduct so much so, in fact, that she even abandoned a big-time story because she found out that Smith was affiliated with it on the other side of things.
“I was writing about Facebook’s discussions with Microsoft and Google on investments,” says Swisher. “It wasn’t an area she [Smith] was working on, so I thought it was OK, and I put the link to the statement at the bottom still. I was writing about it, and someone from the FB team called me up and said Megan was a really tough negotiator. She had told me she was going to dinner with friends. I then had to stop writing about it, and I gave it to another reporter. The minute we did that I said in the piece that I couldn’t write about it anymore because she was deeply involved.”