Executive Editor, Re/code; Host, Re/code Decode podcast; and Co-Executive Producer, Code Conference
Here is a statement of my ethics and coverage policies. It is more than most of you want to know, but, in the age of suspicion of the media, I am laying it all out.
Let’s begin with a critical piece of information every reader of this site needs to know about me: Megan Smith, my longtime spouse from whom I am now separated and have two children, is now the Chief Technology Officer of the United States, working for the administration of President Barack Obama. In that job, she is charged with a variety of federal tech initiatives, over which I have no control. In addition, I do not have non-public information related to her job.
Previously, Megan had been an executive at search giant Google since 2003 until mid-2014, where she held a number of jobs, including as vice president of new business development and general manager of the company’s philanthropic arm, Google.org. Her last job was working at Google[x], the division of the company dedicated to “moon shot” experiments such as driverless cars, Project Glass (wearable computers) and Project Loon (Internet access delivered by high-altitude balloons). She never shared information with me about any of these projects nor any others she was involved in while at Google.
Obviously, a substantial amount of Megan’s income from Google has been in shares and options, all of which she has sold as part of her new government job. Megan has made all her own decisions related to these shares and options, and I did not own any of them nor did I get any of the money from their sale. Further, I have signed legal documents that disallow me from rights to any of the proceeds. And, in the event of her death, her wealth will pass directly to our two children. In addition, Megan still holds a number of shares and options (none of which I own or have future rights to own) in PlanetOut, where she served as CEO before she moved to Google.
While some may raise objections, I would hope that readers will judge my work on its merits, especially in light of my extensive experience covering the technology industry for the Wall Street Journal, the Washington Post and in two books about AOL I authored in the 1990s. In fact, I began reporting on Google itself in 1999, well before others did, and wrote many articles about the company years before Megan worked there.
Honoring a long-term commitment to high standards of journalism is key to the success of my work. I am well aware of the controversies surrounding ethics online now swirling about, some of which have resulted in giving readers some pause about the quality and honesty of some in the blogosphere. Such wariness is always a good thing for everyone and I encourage readers to ask tough questions and demand more of those providing them information of all kinds. I know that I am asking for a large measure of trust from readers of the site, and I pledge to do everything I can to be deserving of that trust.
In other words, if Google screwed up (as they have many times and will again), I tried to be the first to say so; on the other hand, if they performed well, I said so based only on my long experience as a reporter covering this sector. That same rule will apply to Google’s partners. I also pledged to be fair and honest about covering Google’s competitors, who also both perform well and screw up at various times. I have known and written about all of them for almost two decades (making me a senior citizen in Web terms) and continue to have trusted sources throughout the industry.
To be even more clear, I will not discuss anything in this blog with Megan prior to publication and will not report any information I glean from her unless it can be attributed by name to her in that particular instance. I will always have a direct link in such cases to this disclosure.
Nonetheless, I urge you to make any comments you might have about my relationship with Megan on this site, especially if you think it is impacting my work adversely, as long as they remain civil and do not contain attacks related to my sexual orientation, which will simply not be tolerated and will be removed immediately.
As always, I intend to break news on this site and I will make subjective comments on the business and strategies of technology companies and issues, including sometimes about these investors and I will always have a direct link in such cases to this disclosure.
I don’t accept any money, or anything else of value, from the companies I cover, or from their public relations or advertising agencies. Except for minor items, I either use funds from our LLC or my own money when purchasing devices I use, such as computers, digital media players, digital cameras, as well as my Internet service, cellphone service and cable-TV service (no free Comcast for Kara!).
I also don’t serve as a consultant to any companies. I do occasional freelance articles for Vanity Fair magazine, which is owned by Condé Nast, for which I am paid a fee. I make a number of speeches each year, mostly unpaid. If I do accept a fee, I never make speeches at events hosted by companies I cover.
I have investments in several group funds, which are managed without my input by an investment bank, and they might from time to time put my money into funds that buy shares of stock in the companies I write about. But I do not have any knowledge about when they buy and sell any shares. I also have several general stock-index mutual funds, but none is specifically technology-focused, although any one might, from time to time, acquire shares in some technology companies I write about. In this case, as with all my investments, I also have no knowledge of when they buy and sell any shares. I also own a substantive number of shares in a family LLC, but it has nothing to do with the tech industry.
I never coordinate my work with our advertising sales staff, and I don’t solicit or sell ads for the Re/code site or sponsorships for The Code Conference. In addition, advertisers and companies I cover don’t get to see my posts in advance or select or reject topics. Similarly, sponsors of the conference don’t get to select or reject speakers on the agenda or select or preview the questions we ask speakers onstage. We don’t charge companies for appearing onstage at the conference to demo new products and we don’t pay speakers to come to it, either.
Re/code is owned wholly by Vox Media, a company with an audience of 170 million worldwide. It has eight distinct media brands: The Verge (Technology and Culture), Vox.com (News), SB Nation (Sports), Polygon (Gaming), Eater (Food and Nightlife), Racked (Shopping, Beauty and Fashion), Curbed (Real Estate and Home), as well as Re/code (Tech Business).
Vox Media has a number of investors, including, but not limited to, Comcast Ventures and NBCUniversal, both of which are owned by Comcast Corporation.
My posts have total editorial independence from these investors, even when they touch on products and services these companies produce, compete with, or invest in. The same goes for all content on Re/code and at our conferences. No one in this group has influence on or access to the posts we publish. We will also add a direct link to this disclosure when we write directly about the companies.
Kara Swisher started covering digital issues for the Wall Street Journal’s San Francisco bureau in 1997. Her column, “BoomTown,” originally appeared on the front page of the Marketplace section and also online at WSJ.com.
Previously, Kara covered breaking news about the Web’s major players and Internet policy issues, as one of its first hires to cover the Web, and also wrote feature articles on technology for the newspaper. She has also written a weekly column for the Personal Journal on home gadget issues called “Home Economics.”
With Walt Mossberg, over the last 11 years, she has been co-producing D: All Things Digital, a major high-tech conference with interviewees such as Bill Gates, Steve Jobs and many other leading players in the tech and media industries. The gathering is considered one of the leading conferences focused on the convergence of tech and media industries. Kara and Walt also have been co-executive editors of the AllThingsD.com Web site since 2007 until the end of 2013.
Kara won a Loeb Award while at AllThingsD.com for her coverage of Yahoo. She also writes occasionally for Vanity Fair magazine, which is owned by Condé Nast.
Previously, she worked as a reporter at the Washington Post. She is also the author of “aol.com: How Steve Case Beat Bill Gates, Nailed the Netheads and Made Millions in the War for the Web,” published by Times Business Books in July 1998. The sequel, “There Must Be a Pony in Here Somewhere: The AOL Time Warner Debacle and the Quest for a Digital Future,” was published in the fall of 2003 by Crown Business Books.
Kara was an undergraduate at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service and did her graduate work at the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.