O’Reilly Media is committed to ensuring that everything produced under our name is congruent with our company values of openness, honesty, integrity, and neutrality. These values drive our approach to building information products.
For more than 30 years, we’ve worked to create more value than we capture, and to "work on stuff that matters." We know that adhering to our values is central to creating value. And we can’t create lasting value — and keep the trust and loyalty of our customers — by taking shortcuts or making exceptions.
Let’s look at our values one by one:
Openness means that we’re accountable for the messages we put forth — what we write and say. We take criticism and commentary seriously, and that may lead us to change our conclusions. We also value openness in the technologies we cover, and are skeptical when organizations ask us to accept their claims on faith.
Honesty means that we tell the truth, insofar as we are able. We call things as we see them. If we see a problem, we don’t shy away from it. This doesn’t mean that we simply "report the controversy" — in fact, we focus more on insight than news, and aim for clarity and deep comprehension.
Integrity means "wholeness." It’s a word anyone in computing should recognize. In practice, it means that what we are to one person, we are to everyone; our story doesn’t change to suit convenience.
Neutrality means that we don’t play favorites. We’re fair in discussing technologies and companies. We’ll tell you when we think the current favorites are doing wrong, and we’ll tell you when the evil empire du jour is doing right. We don’t deny that we have opinions and biases; opinions are a key part of any editorial operation. Our opinions may be wrong on occasion, but they’re ours and they’re not for sale.
It’s important to understand what would happen if we compromised on our values. We’d quickly be just another publisher, conference organizer, or talking head. Nobody would be excited about attending an O’Reilly event, or reading our books and articles; our audience would cease to be interested in what we have to say.
Our adherence to these values means our audience can count on us for intelligent, thought-out analysis on issues that matter. Likewise, the same adherence means that sponsors get an audience that is expecting the best.
What does this look like in practice? We work with outside writers, speakers, and producers, and many of them are associated with other companies (including sponsors). But we always retain editorial control. Outside contributors always work with an O’Reilly editor, and we have the final say over what’s published. Sponsors do not approve our content or editorial direction. We can give sponsors a high-level summary of the material, so they can judge whether it’s relevant, but we aren’t open to changing content to gain a sponsor’s approval.
It is tough to live with standards like these; from time to time, we have to pass up potentially lucrative deals. But the alternative is worse. It takes a long time to build a reputation, and very little time to destroy it. In the long run, nobody’s interested in a company that merely says what’s convenient. But if we stick to our values, they will remind us of what’s important, guide us to topics that matter, and help us create content that serves all of our customers.