Find me a safe harbor from 'forward-looking statements' ... please!

By John Keller

Posted by John Keller

My wife, a wise woman, warned me that at around age 50 I would look around at the world I inhabit and find an alien landscape. Well, I'm nearly 49, and I barely recognize anything.

I remember television in a major metropolitan area with only seven channels. I remember conducting business without cell phones, personal computers, or the Internet. Most notably I remember news announcements without "safe harbor statements " and "forward-looking statements ."

I know the lawyers have taken over pretty much everything, but I think the lunatics are running the asylum, and have been doing so for much longer than I have taken notice of it.

I've been looking at press announcements almost every day of the nearly 27 years that I've been a professional news reporter. Add in my years as a high school and college journalist and ... I don't even want to think about it. New stuff creeps in over time that I barely notice, but I've reached my limit.

I'm routinely getting news announcements these days in which more than half the text is the so-called "safe harbor statements" and "forward-looking statements." I just got one yesterday that was 335 words long. Often my entire news stories contain fewer words than that.

What are these things, you might ask. I think they're mostly legal fig leaves intended to shield companies from litigation, as per the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995 .

In other words, it's like a lot of things these days designed to stave-off lawsuits -- like warning people that coffee is hot, high-calorie foods can make you fat, and cigarettes can kill you. Is this news to anyone?

Well, the 335-word forward-looking statement I got yesterday has three core points. I hope you're sitting down because these are Earth-shattering revelations:

1) some of the things we say here are not necessarily historical facts;
2) some of the things we say here are guesses that might not turn out like we think they will; and
3) business is risky; real-life can sometimes get in the way.

I, for one, am shocked ... SHOCKED ... to hear that guesswork and risk are part of doing business. I never would have known, had this forward-looking statement neglected to tell me so.

Seriously, though, is all this really necessary? Please, find me a safe harbor from all these forward-looking statements.

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The Mil & Aero Bloggers

John Keller is editor-in-chief of Military & Aerospace Electronics magazine, which provides extensive coverage and analysis of enabling electronic and optoelectronic technologies in military, space, and commercial aviation applications. A member of the Military & Aerospace Electronics staff since the magazine's founding in 1989, Mr. Keller took over as chief editor in 1995.

Ernesto Burden is the publisher of PennWell’s Aerospace & Defense Media Group, including Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence and Avionics Europe.  He’s a father of four, a runner, and an avid digital media enthusiast with a deep background in the intersection of media publishing, digital technology, and social media. He can be reached at and on Twitter @aero_ernesto.

Courtney E. Howard, as executive editor, enjoys writing about all things electronics and avionics in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Military & Aerospace Electronics, Avionics Intelligence, the Avionics Europe conference, and much more. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics geek. Connect with Courtney at, @coho on Twitter, and on LinkedIn.

Mil & Aero Magazine

June 2015
Volume 26, Issue 6

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