Trust is important: People need to know that they can count on you, and when it comes to professional discretion, they need to know that you can be counted on to keep sensitive topics to yourself when necessary.
When I first started blogging and doing CE trade media, I learned very quickly about the importance of discretion: Contacts at manufacturers, distributors and retailers appreciate not having their bridges burned, and that you know the difference between legitimate news and commentary and plain old muckraking.
Not that I’ve never burned any bridges or raked any muck in this role, but in my defense, any muck I raked had some basis in fact, such as Circuit City’s procession of woes leading up to their finale. As I said above, when you can keep a secret, people trust you with their secrets, which means you get entrusted with all kinds of juicy, scandalous gossip.
Implicit in that arrangement is the unspoken understanding that if you ever spill those secrets, you’re never going to be made privy to any more.
The fact is, I enjoy being “in the know” and if keeping mum is the price paid for knowledge, that’s not a price too heavy to bear.
One trade media outlet I know (and let me emphatically state that it’s NOT rAVe Publications) jokes internally about how they’re always working on their final, last, Going Out Of Business issue, just in case. They call it their “What We Really Think About All Of You” issue, and will contain all the scandal, gossip and drama they’ve heard over the years in one giant collector’s edition publication.
Now THAT would be burning all your bridges.