Just For the Fun of It (a Mission Statement?):

Reader riot:

In the wake of several recent mentions here of

THQ

(THQI)

, I responded to some posts on

TheStreet.com's

message boards with an explanation that said, "The column did what the column always does: It told you why folks are short the stock. Maybe they're right. Maybe they're wrong."

That prompted reader

Dave Westfall

, a THQ bull, to write:

So ... you just take what an short-seller says at face value and report it as fact? Don't you have any responsibility (personal, professional or otherwise) to make sure when you accuse a company of anything (like you have done in the case of THQ) that you at least get the facts straight?

Here's my answer, with some refinements: "Dave, do I have a responsibility? Yep. Do I take shorts at face value? Yep (assuming I'm interested in their story and assuming they have a record with me). I take them at face value just like I take the company at face value. Then (believe it or not), I follow with my own research and, as was the case with THQ and any company that takes my call, I report the company's side and the short's side.

"(I view the company as the bull and the short-sellers as the, well, uh, bears.) That's what journalists do; message board zealots, on the other hand, generally promote one side of the story and do their best to discredit any dissenting opinions or observations. (Go visit a message board once a company blows up. It's usually a bloody mess, with stunned disbelief; it's like they're eating their own!)

Herb's Latest: Join the discussion on

TSC

message boards.

"My column makes no bones about what it is and who I talk to. The best columns, as has been the case for the past dozen years, have tension and seek out possible problems. (They're also the most fun to write.) I believe the sources I quote are exceptional. In fact, I believe my short-selling sources do better research, on the whole, than most sell-side analysts and certainly more than tag-along momentum players.

"I don't really care about the timing of their info and whether the stock rises or falls after I write about it. I'm not trading these stocks. I just care about the quality of the information, and whether it's accurate. (That's why I usually rely on word-of-mouth referrals to get new sources. Then, I often don't put the idea in the column, but track how the story evolves. That helps create credibility.)

"You, the reader, can then accept the information in the column or reject it; simple as that. I have not ever recommended that somebody buy or sell a stock. I present the info. Sometimes readers of my column forget that I am in the biz of delivering messages.

"Is there an angle? You bet. It's up to you to interpret that angle. I would think and hope the data would spur investors to do more research and wind up with a more solid conclusion.

"My column and its track record are open books. Unfortunately, for many THQ investors, it appears this is the first time they've made its acquaintance!"

Finally:

"Herb," writes some anonymous emailer, "I've read your columns since day one on this site and have always wondered what the agenda was. I still do.

"By giving Price the time of day on his attacks on

Tyco

(TYC)

, I must conclude that somewhere, somewhere, somewhere you have a conflict of interest.

"Interestingly, Price's first attack, which dropped the stock into the 20's, gave me a buying opportunity which I thought I had missed. For that I thank you. This latest drivel from this short-seller is akin to you front-running for his fund."

His name is Tice, not Price, David

Tice

!

Herb Greenberg writes daily for TheStreet.com. In keeping with TSC's editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, though he owns stock in TheStreet.com. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. He welcomes your feedback at

herb@thestreet.com. Greenberg also writes a monthly column for Fortune.

Mark Martinez assisted with the reporting of this column.