But journalists shouldn’t rely on their sources to disclose real or potential conflicts. Just as medical writers have learned to pay attention to the nexus between Big Pharma and the research and drug trials conducted by academics, similar questions about the nexus between technology companies and the academics they support should become a standard part of a journalist’s tool kit when they turn to experts to sort through complicated matters of technology policy. Having a financial connection to a story doesn’t necessarily disqualify someone from commenting on it. But disclosing that connection is part of the journalist’s duty to his audience.


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Emily Brill has written for The Philadelphia Inquirer and for The Daily Beast. She has worked at MSNBC's Morning Joe and for Journalism Online, LLC. She lives in New York.