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Saturday, 27 April 2024 05:56

The Age's Tim Biggs has a huge conflict of interest when it comes to Samsung

The Age's Tim Biggs has a huge conflict of interest when it comes to Samsung Image by Pexels from Pixabay

It is a mite strange to note that Tim Biggs, a writer covering consumer technology, gadgets and video games for The Age, did not deem the issues caused by the battery in the Samsung Galaxy Note 7 in 2016 and 2017 worthy of mention in his article titled Lithium-ion battery fires: How to stay safe.

But it appears that Biggs has a good reason for that: a major conflict of interest.

Yes, he reports regularly on Samsung devices – and it does not take a great deal of intelligence to figure out that were he to write about Samsung in an article about lithium-ion battery fires, then that august company would not exactly be forthcoming when it came to doling out devices to Biggs for review or any other like task.

It is always good to consider how these conflicts of interest will play out – especially when there are nosy people around to raise them in public.

I was able to unearth plenty of articles about Samsung written by Biggs. During 2016 and 2017, when the Note 7 was literally setting the world on fire, one of the iTWire staff, Ray Shaw, attempted to do something similar to what Biggs has done: protect the vendor by plugging the "official version" of events. But his bid failed.

I covered the Note 7 issue exhaustively. Given that, Samsung will not even respond to emails I send them. But honestly, I couldn't give a stuff; a journalist's responsibility is to the public, not to some South Korean vendor who is hawking fireworks and styling them as phones.

But The Age has become something of a tabloid rag and these kinds of conflicts are hidden nowadays. It wouldn't have happened some years ago. I worked for The Age from 1999 to 2016 and never saw too many incidents of this kind.

A word of advice from a much older cynical journo to young Biggs: beware, your conflicts of interest will find you out. And then you begin to look really silly and lose all credibility. Better to avoid embarking on articles which show you up.

Update: one more reason why Biggs should not be writing about lithium-ion battery fires.

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Sam Varghese

Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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