All in a Day’s Work
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Apr 01, 2015
Many years ago, when I decided to become
a journalist, I started cutting my teeth by
writing sports. I was pretty young at the
time, and I enjoyed a variety of sports. It was a perfect
training ground for me.
A funny incident happened to me as I was writing
a column for a Friday issue. I found some information
that Nike was sponsoring a summer basketball camp
in Hawaii with a guest appearance from Michael Jordan.
In my column I suggested that it would be good
for Nike to bring me along.
End of story, or so I thought.
Not long after, I received a letter from Nike thanking
me for the invitation but they couldn’t bring me
along. I didn’t expect them to take me to Hawaii,
much less send along a letter. They did offer, however,
a pair of Nike running shoes, if I would just send
them my size.
At the time, I spent a lot of time running. I thought
a pair of Nike running shoes would be wonderful.
They would fit in with the other brand shoes I was
wearing at the time.
The office I worked in was small, a family owned
operation. Very few paid attention to my good found
fortune, until the shoes actually showed up. Our features
editor said to me, “You’re not going to take
those are you? They will own you for life.”
I guess he thought I was a relatively easy mark, but
I couldn’t be bought for a pair of running shoes. All
this doesn’t have a lot to do with security except for
the fact that many editors in our security industry are
asked to join in on trips sponsored by product manufacturers.
The trips, more often than not, are paid for
by the companies. The attendees are almost exclusively
editors; rarely an industry analyst.
I have been on a lot of these trips over the years.
I’ve seen new products that, at the time, made a big
impact on the industry and products that make the
lives of end users much better.
Recently, I flew to Chicago to interview for the
cover story of our Dealer Strategies issue. I didn’t pay
for the flight or hotel, and to top it all off, I got a new
pair of Nike shoes. They are red, with a Pro 1 on the
There are those that would make readers believe
that editors are captive to the industry, and somehow
beholden to the manufacturers that we report about.
Nothing could be further from the truth, at least from
In our office, no one tells me what to write and
when to write it. It is our policy to be as vender neutral
as possible. We try very hard to do that. We promote
new products in various ways and means, such
as our New Products section, Top Picks and product
solutions sections. Very few, if any, manufacturers
have tried to twist my arm in placing a new product
No doubt that the trips the editors agree to take
are fun and enlightening, but I learned several years
ago that getting all the editors together is more of a
team building exercise than competition or bribery.
This is what we do, as editors. An opportunity to
look at the newest products and talk with the engineers
is a blessing. It provides precious one-on-one
time to learn more in a casual setting than having to
compete for time at a tradeshow. Traveling to a manufacturer’s
site provides a hands-on demonstration and
an opportunity to talk with company executives.
Is it worth the time and effort? Is it worth the menacing
taunts from some industry analysts to make
these trips and learn more about new products? Of
course it is, and of course editors are not bought and
paid off. For me, it is definitely worth it. There is never
enough time in the day to do all I want to do, as well
as people I want to talk to. Any notion that a manufacturer
expects pages and pages of coverage from a
trip is pure nonsense.
By the way, the red Nike shoes that I’m wearing
from the trip to Chicago are a perfect fit.
This article originally appeared in the April 2015 issue of Security Today.