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Hunting Season

Hunting Season

Flak jackets are the new "must have" fashion accessory for CIOs these days.

"Be vewy vewy quiet. We're hunting CIOs." That is apparently the pervasive sentiment among the IT press at present. Pinning on a hunting licence that is valid only on Tuesday mornings, more than a handful of journos and their respective news outlets head out looking to bag or exceed their limit.

In recent weeks there's been a glut of "let's tally the salaries" stories accompanied by the odd slash and burn piece that makes Sherman's march to the sea look like a cakewalk by comparison. And if I can be forgiven for mixing my various blood sport metaphors, those same trophy hunters also often make berley of the odd quote from a six-month-old interview and slap it into a mix designed to bait the unwary reader into thinking the journo has been up close and personal within the past 24 hours for this particular personal assault/feature. It's easy to see why one CIO observed recently: "It seems every time a CIO puts his or her head over the parapet some journo takes aim."

Sigh.

And there's no method in all this madness because, in what can only be described as a schizophrenic juxtaposition, if you turn past the first page of the IT section and its go-for-the-jugular headline, there's the smiling face of another CIO accompanying a spoon-fed case study from an IT vendor's PR machine.The CIO as target/the CIO as sales tool. I bet more than a few hapless CIOs can't help but wonder: "Are ya with me or agin' me?"

I'm breaking ranks and breaking rules on this one but then again, some of our so-called journalists are breaking ranks by deciding - without your cooperation - that your privacy and job performance are fit and proper subjects for thousands of punters to contemplate over their morning cuppa.

Go Google your favourite newspaper. Find out how often they report in screaming headlines the salaries of CFOs, COOs, sales directors, heads of manufacturing, and marketing directors. And when was the last time you remember a CV for one of those job titles running in a national daily when the words "indictment" or "receivership" didn't also appear in the first paragraph?

Of course you don't, because no one gives a stuff. But CIOs? Is information about your job, your salary and your performance more relevant to the public good than those other executives? Vanity aside, you know it isn't.

So why the interest? Well, as any good investigative journalist would tell you, "Follow the money." That's how you track down the culprit. And if ever there were a money trail to explain what's going on here it is not these gossip-driven stories designed to lure the readers. No, it is the readers who are being grabbed to lure the advertiser dollars.

But that's no help to any of you caught in the scopes of the Tuesday morning huntsmen.

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