• Big 4

    ICYMI: Deloitte Pays the Wall Street Journal to Blog, or Something

    By | March 14, 2013

    Who knew?! I have to admit that I wasn't really paying attention, but then again, I don't really cruise the WSJ's paywalled C-suite pages that are impervious to the Google-search-the headline-for-total-access trick.

    But yes! Deloitte has had an exclusive deal to "sponsor a regular stream of content" at CFO Journal and CIO Journal, for some time and it's all right on the front page, plain as day, and you don't even have to worry about the paywall! 

    We only bring it up now because we noticed this post from Francine McKenna about the new arrangement between Deloitte and the Journal, that was mentioned in the announcement of the new Risk & Compliance Journal:

    Deloitte LLP has an exclusive arrangement to provide a sponsored stream of content written and compiled by Deloitte LLP, including topical digests, research, insight, and analyses, covering the growing number of risk challenges C-suite executives and board members must manage. 

    “We look forward to this opportunity to contribute to the discussion on the many risk challenges executives and boards wrestle with in today’s environment—from how to incorporate risk into corporate strategy to managing risk for both value creation and protection,” said Henry Ristuccia, partner, Deloitte & Touche LLP, and Global Leader, Governance, Risk and Compliance Services, Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

    Deloitte LLP also has a similar exclusive arrangement to sponsor a regular stream of content for CIO Journal, which launched in 2012, and CFO Journal, which launched in 2011.

    The Wall Street Journal news department is not involved in the creation of the content stream sponsored by Deloitte LLP.

    This situation, of course, leads to all kinds of discussions about publications accepting money from the companies they cover. Here's Francine:

    The Wall Street Journal has a full time accountancy reporter, a very good one, in Michael Rapoport who’s had to write about Deloitte often. But Dow Jones, like Thomson Reuters, also has a software and services arm for “governance, risk, and compliance” tools for corporations and Deloitte is very active in providing GRC services, most recently to JPMorgan in the OCC/Fed foreclosure review situation. So that’s the rationale, I’m sure, for the business alliance. 

    Yep! That's probably it. But really, the chance that Dow Jones will ring up Rapoport and say "Take it easy on those guys. They give us a lot of money," is somewhere between slim and none. Deloitte doesn't care what Rapoport writes insofar that they will turn down a good opportunity to drum up new business. I mean, just read this stuff from Deloitte CIO Larry Quinaln:

    At Deloitte, we have a five-pronged approach for taking advantage of mobile. The first prong is hardware: You can’t be mobile without devices. Companies take various approaches to provisioning, from “everyone will get the same device, and they’re going to like it” to “bring your own device, whatever it is, secure or unsecure.” We opted for a compromise. Once a mobile device passes our security testing, we offer it as an option to employees.
     
    The second prong is device management. While we haven’t adopted a single, heavy mobile device management application, we manage devices carefully. We closely track them on the network. We ensure compliance with necessary updates and patches, and we tightly link each device to its owner and track hardware and usage costs.
    OHHHHHH. A five-pronged approach. That's something, isn't it?
     
    Lord. And it goes on from there. Dreadful to read, quite honestly. But some CIO is out there thinking, "Hmm. This Quinlan fella sure sounds like he knows his stuff. Maybe we should start talking to Deloitte." That's precisely what Deloitte wants! Same with CFOJ (10 Challenges and Opportunities for Property and Casualty Executives! — BARF). The same will be with R&CJ. They want to get their wares in front of people who need it and the WSJ has the audience. It's not a complicated business1. Frankly, I'd be insulted if the weren't partnering together. And no one on the WSJ news desk is going to get a chill just because Deloitte throws money at Dow Jones.

    But despite all that, journalism purists don't like the way it looks. It's kinda like the auditor's independence dilemma. HOW CAN YOU BE INDEPENDENT FROM THE PEOPLE THAT GIVE YOU MONEY? Jesus, I don't know. Let the government take over? OR maybe we'll make enough money from Adsense?

    Deloitte can publish whatever they want over at CFOJ, CIOJ or wherever. It's clearly marked so I and everyone with a shred awareness knows it's corporate propaganda. And if they don't, it's not a big deal. The content is crap. If you read it, you deserve to lose that three minutes of your life.

    [Dow Jones via Francine McKenna]

    1 It's so easy a second-rate accounting blog can do it! Yes, we've published sponsored content here in the past. We may publish it in the future. The publishing people run this laugh factory. If you don't like it, talk to them. And if you do like it, talk to them!

    • $43517978

      There are A LOT of issues with journalism and the news media these days, and IMO this issue doesn’t seem like it should be anywhere near the top of the list. I’m more bothered by White House correspondents acting like stenographers for the administration, or a 24-hour news channel delivering a constant stream of inaccurate political propaganda to its wing-nut viewers. Or if we want to focus on the problems on Wall Street, how about business “reporters” lobbing softball questions to the likes of the Deloitte CEO when there’s the opportunity to dig into real issues (great discussion about this on GC a week or two ago)?

      But, yes, I agree with Francine that this thing with Deloitte and the WSJ is fucked up. Off with their heads!

    • burn IT

      independent in fact and appearance.

    • Francine McKenna

      Caleb,

      CFO and CIO JOurnal are not behind a paywall anymore so Deloitte’s wisdom is available to the masses. My beef was not with paid content. All the cool kids do it now!

      My suggestion to Dow JOnes is that Deloitte may not have been the best choice of partner for a Risk and Compliance Journal. Standard Chartered and Kabul Bank should be enough to disqualify the firm. Then add in all the other ways the firm has shown its disdain for compliance like its own insider trading scandals, two in the same year. You’ve got to wonder who they think will follow Deloitte’s advice.

      • Caleb Newquist

        None of the Deloitte stuff is behind the paywall, but the original CFO or CIO content is. I presume when they made the arrangement that making Deloitte’s content available to everyone was one of the easier things to settle.

        And your point about Standard Chartered and Kabul is well taken. My hunch is that Deloitte pays a nice premium to DJ for a right for first refusal on new WSJ platforms and now DJ looks a little silly to have Deloitte commenting on R&C.

        • Francine McKenna

          Yes, there was a transition with CFO and CIO Journal from paywall to non-paywall. I would think they would put all archives out there once the gate was opened.

          And yes, I wonder what Deloitte is paying for the privilege to have folks like you laugh at their prose.

      • $43517978

        Oh wait, so that’s what this is about? I thought this was a classic Francine McKenna story on Deloitte’s lack of objectivity and independence. But its really about Deloitte not “having the right” to write articles about risk and compliance because Deloitte has fucked up in the past on compliance? If we held everyone to that standard, then this would be a world free of business-related articles in magazines and online. I guess we’d still have Francine McKenna articles though.

        I consider myself a Francine McKenna fan and I agree with her that swift action needs to be taken to punish the band of lawless criminals who run the Big 4 firms, but I think this particular story is making a mountain of a molehill.

    • Guest4Ever

      I certain don’t worry anout “the paywal” at all Colin.

      • Caleb Newquist

        I like how you avoided the adverb there.