Monday, May 2, 2011

A Note on Screening of Questions

I see where questions to Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger were screened at the Berkshire Hathaway shareholder meeting, by three reporters.

Forbes reported that:
 ...CNBC’s Becky Quick, Fortune’s Carol Loomis, and The New York Times‘ Andrew Ross Sorkin to screen shareholders’ questions in advance. Those questions were submitted to their personal email addresses since Buffett’s Annual Letter to Shareholders went out on February 22nd.  They will choose the ones they’ve decided are, “most interesting and important"
There is some argument that questions should be screened to prevent questionner's from giving speeches instead of asking a question, this can happen quite frequently. But a strong moderator should be able to put control those situations in my view.

However, I also think screening can protect from tough questions being asked.  I have had submitted questions on many occasions that were never chosen to be asked.

I once submitted a question to Milton Friedman asking him if he regretted playing a role in the design of the withholding tax.

I once submitted a question to Tim Geithner asking if his father ever met President Obama's mother, when she was managing microfinance in Indonesia.

The list goes on.

But, I think the only fair thing to do in this age of the internet, and to help keep the screeners nonest, is that it should be common practice to post on the internet following any transcripts and/or videos of a speech and Q and A, a list of the questions that weren't asked.

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