For those of you who read our piece earlier this week called: Let Us Rephrase: Do You Want the Chinese Politburo Owning a US Steel Company, SteelMarketUpdate posted a rebuttal piece on their site, which we would encourage you to read. We feel, however, that they attacked our editorial independence given our announcement this morning regarding Nucor joining as sponsor. We will not comment now on what Peter Brebach has written; the purpose of this post is to set the record straight regarding MetalMiner’s editorial independence and explain our business model in greater detail.
Regular readers of MetalMiner will know that we have a long history of questioning and writing about Chinese international business practices. In fact, we have a long history of questioning a number of things including many US policies. Here are a series of links to both older and newer pieces as examples:
- China Currency Manipulation Gains More Steam
- US ITC Rules in Favor of US OCTG Producers A Good Decision?
- Renminbi At The Heart of Trade Imbalances
- The Acid Rain Market Has Failed: Why We Should Be Afraid of Proposed Carbon Legislation
- Health Care Costs and The Manufacturing Fallout
- Super Cycles, China US Exchange Rates and The Trade Deficit
- New China Export Rebate Sure to Fuel the Trade Wars
When it comes to public policy, we have long reported “our opinions, that is after all, what we believe a blog site is.
Peter Brebach, the author of the SteelMarketUpdate piece is an importer whose livelihood likely depends upon international trade. He’s on the board of the AIIS and therefore probably feels strongly about his positions on international trade issues. I for many years was also reliant upon international trade for my own livelihood. I was an aluminum importer/exporter. And over the years, my position on trade has become much more conservative based on what I have seen in my subsequent years as a management consultant and as an editor of this site. I truly believe that China operates on a very different trade agenda (set of rules if you will) than we do. Eventually, this will come to a head.
Given our strong position on China’s role in world metal markets, it is not surprising that we attract sponsors with similar viewpoints. Nucor may or may not share similar views on this subject. But our reiteration of our longstanding views on this subject this week – in response to the Wall Street Journal’s defense of the Chinese investment – was completely independent of our announcement of the new relationship with Nucor.
As part of its new sponsorship, Nucor will have the opportunity to voice its opinion on a number of matters important to it and to manufacturers in the United States. And we are sure that Nucor’s perspectives on these issues will undoubtedly spur many interesting discussions.
I’d like to share with you more about our business model – what we are and what we aren’t. As a new media/blog site, and not an “objective media site” (we never claimed to not have an opinion), we share a set of beliefs and values that have certainly impacted our writing. Since we are not subscription based, but instead an open free community to any and all, we have chosen to monetize our business differently than companies like SteelMarketUpdate. Each business model has its pros and cons.
So let’s talk about editorial independence. On issues of steel market forecasts, pricing, market directions and trends, we have said so publicly and will demonstrate via our actions that our sponsors have no influence on that content. In fact, we may move forward by further sub-dividing our content to create greater clarity for readers. But our thought pieces on various trade actions as an example, or lousy sourcing practices we see in the market or President Obama’s health care bill are things that can’t be presented “objectively”. It is a futile exercise to pretend one can be unbiased. The NY Times is hardly unbiased. The WSJ is not unbiased. As a blog, we write our opinions freely backed with data as we see fit and if someone disagrees they are free to comment and participate in the dialog. That is what we believe social media is all about.
And just as Peter presented his point of view, it’s fair game to say that we did as well. Are we regurgitating Nucor’s point of view? We think not. Our track record on matters relating to China has been well documented. We will let the MetalMiner court of opinion weigh in on that. If we’ve upset you, our readers, perhaps it’s because we’ve not been clear on how much we value editorial independence. We’ll continue to be more clear on this in the future. But most important, Nucor or not, we stand by our point of view.