I fully appreciate that it is difficult to secure widespread agreement about a general statement of principles like this. As with negotiating and passing a piece of legislation, compromises have to be made in order to achieve broad support. A wide variety of different interests and sensitivities must be taken into account to achieve consensus on principles like this.
I am very impressed with the thoughtfulness, comprehensiveness, clarity and detail of Principles 1 through 10.
When I finished reading Principal 11 I became concerned that Principal 11 operates as an exception to Principles 1 through 10, and could be used to over-ride Principles 1 through 10.
Principle 11 includes the sentence: When in doubt, the general guideline that “Full disclosure equals no conflict of interest” should apply. Respectfully, I do not agree that disclosure cures an actual conflict of interest. My view is that full disclosure does not equal no conflict of interest.
Disclosure is one thing, and conflict of interest is another thing. Full disclosure does not cure an actual conflict of interest, in my opinion. If full disclosure cures an actual conflict of interest, then Principle 11 does indeed have the potential to undermine Principles 1 through 10.
I would like to see Principal 11 deleted in its entirety. Alternatively I would like to see deleted the sentence "When in doubt, the general guideline that 'Full disclosure equals no conflict of interest' should apply." Alternatively, I would like to see a declaration that: "Nothing in Principle 11 constitutes an exception to Principles 1 through 10."
Of course it is easy to make these critiques after the fact. As with legislation, compromises have to be made to achieve consensus. I appreciate that consensus would not have been able to be achieved without Principle 11.
Even with Principle 11, with the Statement of Guidelines exactly as it is posted presently, I think the Statement of Principles is an excellent and very important step forward toward addressing these issues and to professionalizing our industry.
Thank you to the people driving this project and achieving a successful outcome. You have performed a great service for our industry!
The following are my own thoughts. I neither represent nor speak for the AIAP consortium.
Ron, I think your intentions in your post (above) are right-headed. However citing 1 sentence in isolation out of the entire item #11 and the other items before it yields a mis-leading interpretation of how it can be read. If not mis-leading, it is a singular interpretation and fails to consider the full context of item #11 and surrounding items. Some people - perhaps looking to find a way to object to the entire initiative - have latched onto your comments which focuses on that one sentence and the notions of 'full disclosure' and 'no conflict of interest'.
I believe you know it is not advisable to take things out of context. Pulling one sentence out of context liables it to many different interpretations made possible without the benefit of context.
First, some background stated in the AIAP document prior to item #11:
The essence of item #9:
No member of an AIAP publication will engage in, or allow its contributors to engage in,
true conflicts of interest.
This is followed by examples. Member publications or contributors writing for member publications will not and do not engage in conflicts of interest.
Item #11 is about acknowledging that relationships exist between members of the press on the one hand and designers, manufacturers, dealers and distributors on the other. Item #11 speaks openly about the positive value such relationships can yield in getting information to readers.
I can vouch for this. Every review I have written could not have been written without the opportunity to ask questions of the manufacturer about his business, his products, and his approach to design and audio in general. Fwiw, I tell every manufacturer, etc. that what they say to me is under an NDA and I will only disclose what they want in a public review. This has helped tremendously in gaining trust and access to product information that would not have been given otherwise. I put my own reputation on line. I can tell you that every manufacturer is highly sensitive to and seeks to avoid disclosure of proprietary information.
But I don't see this type of disclosure as what item #11 speaks to.
Item #11 reiterates #9:
In order to operate in a friendly way without corrupting the integrity of the review process, AIAP members agree that conflicts of interest arising from such professional friendships are to be avoided.
Then, instruction is given to AIAP members. Or consider it a prescriptive statement of agreement among members about how they will act to avoid any conflict of interest:
When in doubt, the general guideline that “Full disclosure equals no conflict of interest”
In other words, members agree to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest through full disclosure.
Perhaps you read 'equals' as equivocation - that might work if you focus on that sentence out of context. That's not how I read it.
The notion of "curing a conflict of interest" is irrelevant. Item #11 is not about fixing or repairing or restoring, it is about avoiding
a conflict of interest. It provides an example of what it is talking about - did you see the example? The example has nothing to do with "curing".
There is already agreement about not engaging in conflicts of interest in #9. Item #11 advocates for transparency in disclosure as a means to avoid the appearance of conflict of interest.