Does NYT tech columnist Pogue have a conflict of interest?

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Dan Lyons, writing for The Daily Beast, notes that the relationship between New York Times tech columnist David Pogue and public relations executive Nicki Dugan raises some ethical concerns.

Lyons writes, “Pogue has been dating Nicki Dugan, a vice president at OutCast Agency, a San Francisco PR firm that represents top tech companies such as Amazon, Facebook, Cisco, Netflix, and Yahoo, since last year. (On April 24, things between them had grown serious enough that Dugan announced their relationship on her Facebook page.)

“During the time they’ve been involved, Pogue has written articles about OutCast clients and their competitors without disclosing his personal connection to a senior staffer at the firm.

“Pogue’s editor at the New York Times, Damon Darlin, says that Pogue told him about the relationship last December. ‘He was concerned that there might be a perception of a conflict of interest, so we went over it,’ says Darlin, adding that he determined that as long as Pogue didn’t write about companies that Dugan personally represents, there would be no problem. He says he also asked OutCast not to pitch stories to Pogue. ‘People have romances all the time,’ says Darlin. ‘He hasn’t written about any companies that she is representing.’ (Neither Pogue nor Dugan returned a message for comment.)

“Still, the fact that Pogue frequently wrote stories of great importance to his girlfriend’s firm without disclosure makes some familiar with the details uncomfortable. An in-house tech company public relations executive, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of rankling Pogue, says the issue is more about disclosure than bias.”

Read more here.