With great power comes great responsibility. Though it sounds corny, that was good enough for Spiderman. When you consider the relative power of the general press -- opinion makers who influence political perception and thus global action by what is covered and how -- the corniness quickly evaporates. Naturally, the audio press isn't the NY Times. Far from it. Though the audio industry has its occasional intrigues, our press isn't trained in investigative journalism nor do our readers expect it from us.

Still, being considered an industry insider occasionally exposes one to information that creates a dilemma. Personal values and beliefs of right and wrong get triggered and with it the notion that reporting could do some good. Should one report on such
issues and get involved in something that arguably isn't one's business? Who makes us high priests of HighEnd audio's internal affairs anyway? Shouldn't we worry about our own operation and try to make it better? Where's the dividing line between worthwhile reportage, sensationalism, meddling and ill-advised activism?

Take the lamentable Atma-Sphere incident. Many highly-placed press members knew about it yet most opted to run with the story marginally at best if at all. One could argue that this maintained proper distance. By refusing to take sides -- and just getting involved could be viewed as taking sides -- they did the right thing. They retained the necessary distance to remain objective observers rather than become partisan activists. Somebody more hotheaded could argue in reverse. He might accuse the silent bystanders for not caring enough and playing it safe. He could argue that being endowed with the power to influence things equates to a responsibility to do just that.

Involvement by way of reportage naturally has to rest on an even-handed representation of all sides. How to obtain such solid information rather than hearsay, rumors or seriously biased versions is the high art of professional objective journalism. Many a story is pulled for lack of unimpeachable sources or because improper protocol was used to obtain information. Just for argument's sake and to remain with the Atma-Sphere subject - what if that unfortunate story were still ongoing? What if one suddenly became the unwitting recipient of a late-hour phone call, one that volunteered detailed information in a clear appeal for sympathy? What if the motivation was solicitation of further coverage in the hope that it would undermine impending actions by having outsiders be aware of them?

Would the petitioner simply be asking the press to fight his own battles caused by perhaps misguided or ill-advised business decisions and poor judgments? Would he simply be hoping that public awareness of ongoing disputes would establish a higher moral ground because a measure of public chatroom uproar and some press coverage appeared to have worked once already? Does the latter justify the past exposure and entitle him to spin the same old record some more? At what point is good enough good enough? From what point forward does press involvement become nothing more than meddling and washing dirty laundry out in the open? Does beginning to cover such affairs bind one to see such a story through to the very end? Should one willingly invite the misgivings of a financially well-equipped and apparently sue-happy party by taking the same story up again? How to obtain solid information in the first place,
as a prerequisite to any subsequent considerations of newsworthiness? What exactly is the job of the subjective audio reviewing press in such instances?

These and related questions crop up when one pursues such matters. It's a worthwhile exercise. It helps define one's self-image and clarifies notions about job description and related responsibilities. Of course, certain questions often don't have easy answers. Whatever answers might suggest themselves don't necessarily lead to unambiguous decisions. Simply put, everyone in the audio press is exposed to ongoing insider information. Some of it will prompt difficult choices. Growing experience might eventually construct clear-cut guidelines which somebody less experienced could still be struggling with to define or make company policy.

For the most part, these are private and personal matters. They begin and end with looking in the mirror and liking what one sees - or not. By personal inclination, I favor to let our readers see into our cards. At least then you can better appreciate that often enough, we don't have the answers. Still, we struggle with the questions and the scenarios that cause them. Certain things are only learned by doing. This, by definition, entails making mistakes, overstepping boundaries, pushing the envelope and thereby inviting criticisms and useful feedback to incorporate into the next such decision. To get this process rolling, one has to let the rabbit out of its cage to see what kills it or makes it run faster. Never letting him come out might be safe and avoid conflict and confrontation but it's certainly not the way to really learn. In the present circumstance, I did get a phone call. It was completely uninvited. The above arguments all did arise to vie for attention and lobby for a decision in their favor. Did I learn something? Let's hope so, shall we? For argument's sake.