Selling Reprints is Unethical

By John Honovich, Published Aug 06, 2012, 08:00pm EDT

One of the ugliest yet least known elements of the media business is publications selling article reprints to companies covered in those articles. Needless to say, companies only buy reprints of articles that are favorable to them, creating a nasty incentive for publications to repeat manufacturer spin and refrain from criticizing subjects of their articles.

The choices are plentiful and laughable. Here's what SecurityInfoWatch offers [link no longer available]:

  • Custom reprints in print form
  • Electronic reprints licensed for marketing
  • Postcards (not kidding)
  • Posters and Plaques (also not kidding)

It makes a mockery of independent journalism but it sure is profitable. While readers pay nothing, manufacturers routinely pay thousands to use favorable 'articles' in marketing campaigns.

One of the silliest defenses for this is that no money exchanges hands up front, meaning that it is not a straight commissioned piece. Indeed, it is more of a pay per performance structure where the 'journalist' is motivated to deliver favorable coverage to maximize reprint purchases.

Obviously, IPVM never sells any reprints. More importantly, we have a strict policy barring manufacturers from using any IPVM post for promotion.

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