Ashton Kutcher’s recent gig as guest editor for a special “online only” version of Details magazine resulted in some questionable journalistic practices. The actor used editorial to showcase several tech companies in which he is an investor.
Kutcher himself made no mention of his financial relationship with the companies in the magazine. The only disclosure came in an intro to a Q&A with Kutcher that says, “as an investor, he puts his money where his mouth is, too, backing many of the companies he champions here.” Pretty non-specific, as disclosures go.
So Gawker did what Kutcher should have, naming the companies profiled that the actor has a financial stake in. There were at least a dozen companies mentioned, including Foursquare, Flipboard, Airbnb, and TinyChat. The New York Times says that Kutcher’s lack of full disclosure could land him in hot water with the Federal Trade Commission and Securities and Exchange Commission.
Hollywood actors are generally shameless shills, so Kutcher’s behavior shouldn’t be too much of a shock. But we hold the editors of Details to higher standards.