Bonum Certa Men Certa

Linux Magazine is Run by Advertisers, Not GNU/Linux (and It's Hardly the Exception)

Big corporations are buying and silencing (muzzling) voices in the GNU/Linux community

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Summary: Advertising is big money -- so big in fact that publications no longer care what's true but instead focus on what text brings them more income (from advertisers, of course)

A LONG time ago when I was a Ph.D. student an editor approached me to write articles for his site, Datamation. At first I was paid 50 or 100 dollars per article; later on it was 200. Not a bad way to help pay tuition fees as a relatively poor student. But later on Datamation removed things that I wrote about Microsoft. It wasn't hard to see that Microsoft had become an advertiser (competitive ads, targeting articles about GNU/Linux in order to promote Windows). After a while I stopped writing there and put all my articles here in Techrights (including all those I had published in Datamation, as I was permitted to do after a number of months). That was more than a decade ago. I stopped writing there in 2007 or 2008. Since then Techrights has published well over 20,000 articles, mostly articles about patents. My lesson from that experience at Datamation, however, was valuable; I became well aware of the role of advertisers, e.g. in censorship or at least self-censorship, imposed in a top-down fashion (like publisher/editor removing paragraphs/articles). Looking at Datamation earlier this month, it seemed like many of the articles there are now composed by a longtime (over a decade) Microsoft booster, who used to promote Microsoft products and bash GNU/Linux, mostly at IDG (now Chinese-owned and barely active anymore).



"The only time they wrote about me it was an attack on me and on Techrights."Techrights never had any sponsors. It doesn't want any. Sponsors can be toxic to objectivity, including self-assessment or introspection (for example, a GNU/Linux site criticising GNU/Linux itself).

"You could discuss how Linux Magazine has been nothing but advertiser-led since 2001," one reader urged us the other day, "maybe even earlier!"

It was about an article rejection at Linux Magazine back in 2001. "If I recall [correctly] it was 2001," said the reader, "I was at Linux Biz Expo when Linus was still with Transmeta and other players - maddog, miguel Dirk, etc were speaking. Emmett Plant was the Editor in chief. I had pictures, I had interviews, I had a great article. But the ADVERTISERS... were not interested, at least that is what Emmett was told. The article -- Globalization of Linux -- never published. Maybe Larry (vaforge) was running Linux.com at that time."

"Content," explained this reader, was "not published because of advertisers."

So surely this phenomenon is rather common. Now consider the impact of "LF Event" sponsorships on the Linux Foundation and Linux.com. The only time they wrote about me it was an attack on me and on Techrights. The theme was a familiar one: try to paint those whom you don't agree with using the "conspiracy theories" or "paranoia" brush. The person who wrote that article now works for Linux Magazine.

Recent Techrights' Posts

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