We each wrote a post about a rumor that took on a life of its own and, in the process, lowers the credibility of all of us. With apologies to Dan Fogelberg and Tim Weissberg, the posts really are “Twin Posts of Different Bloggers” so we thought we would combine them into one. First up… Michael’s post…
And THIS is How Unconfirmed Rumors Become Fact
Yesterday at TechCrunch I saw this article talking about “Android’s Dirty Secret: Shipping Numbers Are Strong But Returns Are 30-40%“. I sent a message linking it to the Gear Diary team, but said:
Wow … what a crappy article. On the one hand, if true, it is a major Android issue … but on the other hand, um, facts and details please?
I simply wasn’t buying the numbers without some sort of backing data or a more reasonable source or … well, SOMETHING! ‘Android devices’ is a very broad category – from awesome flagship devices to craptastic plastic tablets STILL shipping with Android 1.5, there is an astounding variety of quality of products.
Of course, such a juicy headline was sure to grab clicks, retweets, posts on scraper sites and so on. I hoped it would quickly die – at least until some facts were gathered. But that just isn’t how things work, so today it ended up on a site I normally like – the Consumerist. This time the headline sounds even more official – “Report: 30 To 40 Percent Of Some Android Device Purchases Are Returned”.
Android phone sales surpass those of iPhones, but to compare the popularity of the two classes of smartphones you have to take returns into account. According to a report, customers return Android devices at a far higher rate than they do their Apple rivals.
There is a minor caveat that the “report should be taken with a grain of salt because of the vagueness of the source”.
But that hasn’t stopped the story from being picked up all over the place – a quick Google search reveals page after page of bad journalism.
C’mon people … we can do better than THIS!
Then there is Dan’s rant from a few days ago…
Seriously??? Seriously??? Come On Fellow Bloggers…
Okay, I’m going on a little bit of a rant here because I’m seeing red. I love doing what we do. I think the fact that we, as end users who love our technology, are able to write about the products we purchase as well as review items that we wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to use, brings a whole different perspective to the exploding technology market. Sure, traditional media outlets still have an important place. They are the ones who have the resources to hire professional journalists, do a tremendous amount of background checking, Professional editors look at each and every piece they write, and travel at the expense of their parent company to events and briefings throughout the world. But we, in the informal technology media world, also have an important place these days. Yes, some of us are trained journalists but I would venture to guess that the majority of people rating for technology blogs did not go to school for journalism and a significant percentage of them are like those of us who write for Gear Diary–we have day jobs. We do this because we are passionate about technology.
But there’s also a danger in the blogosphere and we often see it when there are edgy news bits that are floated by one media outlet or another. For example, you might see an image that is reported to be the iPhone design 3 generations from now and is picked up by one blog after another until the first piece, inaccurate as it was, has been reworded to the point where it is fact and being delivered to stores tomorrow morning. When that happens we lose just a bit of credibility. All of us.
And then there is today’s news piece that has me on a rant. A report came out this morning that the Apple Board of Directors may likely have been informally discussing who would replace Steve Jobs and when. That piece of supposed news (what those of us who are responsible call “rumors”) came from the Wall Street Journal. It was picked up by one blog after another. There’s no problem with that except for this–had they NOT been discussing who might replace Steve Jobs they would not be doing their job. Their job in part, even if their CEO is in good health, is to think about who would replace him if for some reason he suddenly were no longer available. Given Steve Jobs’s health issues over the past few years this is even more important. Jobs has been dealing with significant health issues. This isn’t a common cold and I would venture to guess that someone who was less tenacious, did not have such good access to medical care, and had every other possible resources available to him would have succumbed to this illness sometime ago.
The Apple Board of Directors would be the most irresponsible board of directors in the history of corporate governance if they had not been discussing who might replace Steve Jobs. And then who would replace that person, and likely another level deep after that. [It’s their obligation, to both Apple customers and shareholders, to think about and plan for these types of unfortunate scenarios.]
Then came another blog post with the following title–
Is Steve Jobs about to get replaced? (Rumor)
(I will not link to that blog post because it is irresponsible and, at best is a search for extra mouse clicks.)
How in the world did we get from Apple’s Board of Directors doing their jobs to Steve Jobs replaced soon? It is irresponsible. It’s bad journalism. It makes me sick. [This isn’t a game of telephone, this is real life, and the actions and rumors of blogs (credible or not) have an impact on consumers and news flow just as much as professional journalism. So let’s act like professionals, and not like tabloids. Unless you want a pie in the face while testifying before Parliament…]
C’mon people … we can do better than THIS!