It’s safe to say on of the cornerstones of successful journalism, especially in the 2.0 world, is transparency.
Someone should inform Ashton Kutcher (also, apparently, the fact-checkers at Details).
Kutcher is on the cover of Details’ September issue.
In addition to the print version there is an online feature edited by Kutcher in which he recommends a bunch of stuff and profiles certain companies.
Which might be fine except the connections are never disclosed. And that could spell big trouble for Kutcher.
The NYT reports that the F.T.C. may be interested in investigating both Kutcher’s lack of disclosure and the S.E.C. make get involved to boot.
If he was aware that the companies profiled plan to raise money soon through an initial stock offering, he would not be allowed to discuss those companies under an S.E.C. rule that mandates a “quiet period.” And if any of the companies have shares that are traded on a secondary market, S.E.C. laws would apply there too
“The secondary markets are still governed by federal securities laws,” said Christopher Bebel, a securities lawyer with the firm Tefteller Newsom & Tefteller and a former lawyer with the S.E.C. “These rules apply any time there is a securities transaction; the federal securities laws cast a very broad net and basically prohibit deception in connection with the sale of any security without full disclosure.”
Meanwhile Details is standing by its cover man. Said Dan Peres, editor in chief of Details, in a statement:
“If you read Ashton’s editors letter, you’ll see he succeeded in his mission to get people to talk about and even criticise this social issue. I stand by how we communicated Ashton’s involvement with some of the companies included in our coverage and remain extremely proud of the work we did on this project.”
The sum total of that communication was this line “[Ashton] puts his money where his mouth is, backing many of the companies he champions here.”
As Ryan Tate at Gawker notes that doesn’t exactly clear up which of those many companies listed Kutcher was involved with.
Update: Fear not Kutcher fans, the F.T.C. says it’s not investigating.