Freedom of the (Trade) Press

Sure, I found Michael Corleone whacking Virgil Sollozzo in “The Godfather” and Tony Soprano pummeling Richie Aprile in “The Sopranos” vicariously entertaining. In fact, I believe they are the best movie and TV show ever produced about the Mafia. However, lately, The Mob mentality has not been confined to the big and little screen; lately, it has been hitting a little too close to home.

That’s because certain individuals within the electronic security industry treat belonging to a trade association more like being part of The Syndicate than a member of a group dedicated to the mutual benefit of the entire industry. They subscribe to the mantra “Never go against The Family” when they should be open-minded and encourage free expression.

For a lot of security dealers, this may not be exactly revelatory. In fact, many of them have told me that this type of exclusionary thinking is either the reason they have ceased belonging to an association or why they never joined in the first place. What most dealers may not realize is that these same people often attempt to bully and censor the trade press.

These folks try to mute information they deem goes against the grain of their own viewpoint or agenda. They prefer critical matters – such as verified response and market incursion by vertical industries – be swept under the rug instead of addressed head-on. And when they come across a perspective contrary to theirs – look out! It definitely becomes a case of shooting the messenger, with a double-barreled shotgun at pointblank range!

Of course, these analogies are tongue-in-cheek; by no means am I insinuating there is any element of organized crime in our industry. The unfortunate thing is that many publications give in to these strong-armed tactics, doing a great disservice to the reader in the process. They obediently remain within the confines of the status quo, producing mundane periodicals without any personality or sense of purpose.

Fortunately, I have a tenacious publisher who supports my mission of delivering unbiased content about anything and everything relevant to the electronic security industry. Security Sales & Integration is dedicated to optimally serving – but not being dictated to by – our readers and advertisers.

You see I value a little concept called integrity. I have to be able to look at myself in the mirror knowing SSI is a vital asset to the typical dealer and systems integrator. They are the ones who, on a daily basis, let me know in person, or via calls, E-mails, faxes and letters, how much they cherish and benefit from SSI each and every month.

Believe me, sticking to your guns is not always easy, especially when so-called “industry leaders” try to “make you an offer you can’t refuse.” You would not believe some of the unreasonable and insulting demands that have come my way. These people act like SSI is their personal newsletter rather than an open forum for all to share.

I urge anyone who disagrees with anything in the magazine to be part of the community by voicing their opinion via a letter or guest commentary. My only request is, before acting, they ask themselves, “Am I angry at the messenger or the message?” Most of the time, the rage is misdirected.

I wholeheartedly support and am active in several industry associations, but we must remember that the majority of dealers are not affiliated with any such organization. I don’t believe they should be penalized for being nonconformists, with certain information withheld and shared only among a small circle of “insiders.”

This “us and them” thinking must come to an end! We need to celebrate and embrace our differences and work together for the common good. It is the best strategy against the many perils facing today’s electronic security dealer.

You can bet that these critical topics and many others will be among those tackled by SSI …  so long as our industry’s wise guys don’t first see to it that I “swim with the fishes.”

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