Thursday, November 28, 2013

Bad journalistic practices at Business Of Fashion

Updated: They just published my comment at 1:12pm EST.

Some days your blog post just writes itself. Earlier this week CEO & founder of Business Of Fashion Imran Amed wrote an Op-ed piece called Reasserting the Role of the Fashion Press. It was a reaction to a previous piece by WWD's Bridget Foley that detailed attempts by PR to control press and coverage in fashion. In it he claimed nobility and purity for Business Of Fashion on this subject. I responded thus, 

"You might have a little less trouble with authority on this topic if your site didn't sell publishing space for money & post unidentified sponsored content."

He responded to my accusations with the following, 

"Thank you all for your comments.

To be clear, we take editorial integrity extremely seriously. BoF does not under any circumstances “sell publishing space for money & post unidentified sponsored content” as suggested by Seth Friedermann in his comment.

Any content that is sponsored or supported by advertisers is always clearly labeled as such."

The problem with that is that they don't.

I found an article from July where they let a company shill on behalf of a textile client without identifying it and posted it as a comment. The comment is below.

"Imran, what you said in response to my comment simply isn't true. Here is proof from your own archives. On July 9th of 2013 in your Global Currents section you published the following piece written by Genevieve Flaven, Nowhere in or around this piece is Genevieve Flaven identified as anything other than, "Genevieve Flaven is CEO of Style-Vision Asia, a trend agency based in Shanghai." Clicking through to her agency and simply looking on her list of clients one finds LUTHAI as a paying client. You let a company write an article for your magazine and in no way labeled it as an advertisement for the subject of that article. On that day your claims of objectivity died.

I want to be very clear what my intent is, I do not wish you ill Imran. We've not met, I have no sense of you as a person. You might be, and most likely are, a decent person with worthy aims. Nor do I wish BOF any ill, I read it every day. In fact I asked every single member of Manufacture New York's executive staff to read the piece that Vikram Alexi Kansara wrote this week because I thought it provided critical insight into our industry's future. My job as the Director of Designer Relations for Manufacture New York is to help fashion designers. Whether that is aimed inward at helping them source fabric, find ways to keep production costs down, or merchandising a collection. Or if it is aimed outward at helping the fashion industry to be a healthy and more just place so talent wins over money. That is my goal here; to not let money win. Nobody should have the advantage of a free ad in a major publication.

BOF can be whatever it wants, do whatever it wants, but I do ask that it do so honestly."

They declined to publish my response which I anticipated they might do so I saved it and am cut and pasting it here. If there's one lesson that the world is learning here in the early part of the 21st Century it's that you can't hide ANYTHING any more.  

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