Over-sensitivity at the New York Times? We don’t think so.

Many thanks to Fred for pointing out Paul Gillin‘s comment on Over-sensitivity at the New York Times, which explains that the NYT has apologised to readers for citing Rob Enderle, an analyst who supports vendors including Microsoft, in an article about Microsoft.

Paul comments that “Well, had the Times known of every analyst’s work for Microsoft, it would never have any analysts to quote. The reality is that it’s hard to be in the tech analyst business without crossing Microsoft’s path at some point. But the fact that you take money from a company doesn’t mean you’re beholden to it.

While Paul’s comment is generally true, there are some specific exceptions to that rule. There are some analysts who will support every and any vendor with modestly supportive quotes while taking great pains to say nothing negative about them. This has the effect to level out the differences between vendors, and thus increase what information economists, including my former professor Joseph Stiglitz, call “information asymmetry”. As a result of blurring differences, the general effect of “quote-love” is to reduce the power of buyers.

Both Paul and Rob are certainly acting with the best of intentions. However, we think the NYT has acted with some reason. There is a vast difference between the candor with which different analysts, and analyst firms, speak to the media about vendors. The difference is also reflected in the research which is available for free on the internet: that generallly gives technology buyers less clear information and, as a result, buyers find better information in research with they have to pay for.

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