McLane is editor in chief.
A trusted colleague gave me
some candid feedback, and I’m sharing it here because I like to put such
dialogue in front of you, our reader.
engineer, who holds a responsible position with one of our industry’s top 10 or
15 radio groups, took exception to a note that we included in a recent
NewsBytes newsletter. Here is what we wrote:
Engineering managers: Did you finish your 2014 cap-ex budget
or budget request? What’s your outlook for new projects in 2014? Tell us about
it. Email to email@example.com
and we’ll share with your colleagues (anonymously if you prefer). Put “Cap-ex”
in the subject field.
I thought that was pretty
innocuous. But our friend pulled me aside, rhetorically speaking, with an
email. He said he understood why we might want to explore this topic but felt
the manner in which the data was being “collected” might rub some group heads
wrong. He has done some work in cap-ex, and knows it is a sensitive
subject at most companies.
He suggests we “anonymize”
our request in the future a little better, as we might with a salary survey;
perhaps respondents could pass along info about spending and market size but
not share names or other insider data.
also suggest that the timing is off. By now almost every company has their
budget requests submitted -- but, approvals usually don’t start happening until
January unless it’s an ongoing project from the previous year or something the
company is firmly championing (i.e., like someone knows they’re doing a facility
move in April because of a lease expiring). I think asking the question in
December limits the data set. Ask at the end of January.”
But overall, he said, he really thinks that cap-ex information is
considered secret at companies. Of course part of our job here is to explore
trends and develop data points that help you, the reader, to do your job and
advance in your career. We’re not afraid to ask hard questions and be
journalists. At the same time, Radio World is a partner to our readers, and we
have no interest in putting managers in a difficult position or asking them to
compromise their employers.
What do you think? Should
RW ask about cap-ex and expect information? Is it reasonable to ask these
questions; and if so, when and how?