Apple blogger dominates shareholder meeting

Author of passionately pro-Apple blog asks CEO Steve Jobs several questions without disclosing his affiliation--or disclosing stock ownership to his readers.

Correction 11:45 a.m. PST: This blog initially misstated the day of the week Apple held its shareholder meeting. It was Tuesday. Updated at 12:45pm with link to Roughly Drafted.

A wide range of questioners, from grandparents to children, stepped up to the microphone to ask questions of Apple CEO Steve Jobs during Tuesday's shareholder meeting. They included a prolific Apple blogger who, taking advantage of his apparent status as a shareholder, asked repeated questions of Jobs.

Daniel Eran Dilger was the first person to approach the microphone following the close of official business during the Apple meeting, where to give shareholders more input into executive pay was approved. He identified himself by name, but failed to note that he is the author of Roughly Drafted, an Apple blog that covers the company and the media who follow it very extensively. He proceeded to ask Jobs perhaps a half dozen questions, returning to wait in line for the microphone several times.

Apple CEO Steve Jobs, flanked by Scott Forstall and Phil Schiller, takes questions at Thursday's iPhone event in Cupertino. Corinne Schulze/CNET Networks

Apple, like many companies, does not allow the press nonshareholders to ask direct questions of company executives during shareholder meetings . Some companies don't even allow the press into the building, but Apple admits the press into an overflow room near its main Town Hall auditorium as observers.

Shareholders, of course, are free to enter the main auditorium and pose questions of Jobs and other executives. At the meeting, shareholders were required to register in one line, while press members who didn't hold shares were directed to a different sign-in sheet, and escorted to the overflow room.

Dilger did not respond to multiple e-mail requests for comment, but unless Apple's security fell down on the job, he must have been a shareholder to enter the auditorium. The thing is, he does not disclose that he is an Apple shareholder anywhere on his site, which is notoriously pro-Apple. I've been on the receiving end of one of Dilger's blasts on at least one occasion.

I'm fully aware it's a brave new world out there in the journalism industry, but holding stock in a company you cover is still a big no-no in many quarters. The standard among some of the other major bloggers seems to be disclosure, disclosure, disclosure: make readers aware of any potential conflicts of interest you may have and let them decide whether those conflicts are influencing what you write. It seems to me if you hold stock in a company that you passionately defend against any perceived attacks, and make money doing so, perhaps you should disclose that defense might just be influenced by your financial portfolio.

Roughly Drafted runs ads on the site, and Dilger says he had 4.3 million page views over the first two quarters of 2007. He has posted extensive coverage of Apple's iPhone event this week, although nothing from the six or so questions he asked of Jobs on Tuesday.

UPDATED 12:45pm - A commenter below kindly posts a link to a Roughly Drafted post from Wednesday, where Dilger mentions that he owns Apple stock. Prior to Wednesday, and prior to at least one e-mail inquiry sent by me to Dilger on Tuesday, that information had not been disclosed. As of this update, Dilger has still not responded to multiple requests for clarification on the issue.

About the author

    Tom Krazit writes about the ever-expanding world of Google, as the most prominent company on the Internet defends its search juggernaut while expanding into nearly anything it thinks possible. He has previously written about Apple, the traditional PC industry, and chip companies. E-mail Tom.

     

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