Speculating vs. reporting

Posted: 08.13.13

It’s much more fun, and easier to speculate

One of the reasons the trade press has been decimated and so many so-called reports/writers are looking for jobs is because for the most part they were untrained, cheaply hired, and basically lazy kids. The ones who still have jobs, or a freelance gig, write one to three 300- to 400-word stories a day, mostly taken from press releases, or other sources.

And to cover up for doing actual work, like interviewing two sources, they speculate. “Rumor has it Flinkesher will introduce a low-cost mobile Phren Modulator this holiday season.” You speculate on an esoteric device way in the future and people have forgotten by the end of the week. Except of course it takes on a life of fact and then “everyone knows what Flinkesher is doing…”

We get from one to four of these a week. Often one of them has a bit of truth in it. Last week’s rattler was Amazon coming out with an Android game console. That was interesting and we tracked down every story. All of them lead back to “Citing unnamed sources, Game Informer said the machine would launch by Black Friday.” So Game Informer publishes a rumor it got, everyone copies it and re-posts, and now, well now of course it’s fact. Then the Wall Street sharp shooters start making bets on who will be the big winner in the Amazon game machine race: Google (whose rumor of enter came out the end of July), Nvidia who actually has a shipping product, or gigantic web merchandizer Amazon.

But who cares? That fact-work is time consuming, hard stuff. For the few who took any journalism courses (learning about who, what, when, where, why, and how) were also told to get a collative source so it’s not hearsay. But that stuff takes time, and by the time you do it, the story isn’t trending, doesn’t have any Likes, isn’t hot, and no one cares. Jeez—what the hell is wrong with you?

I don’t know how many likes I have, maybe 12 counting friends and family I haven’t pissed off in the last 72 hours. And I don’t worry about it. I sure did when I was in high school. So is that our audience now, high schoolers? Is that who’s supporting the web, the smartphone, tablet, game console, PC, and cinema? Are there really that many high schoolers? Well probably not, there are probably a lot of young people who still worry about Likes, and being trendy and looking and talking cool. They’re also ambitious and many are looking for better jobs. Those folks feed on the rumors, the rumors impact their likes, and consequentially, what they Like— a self-fulfilling circle.

So, as uncomfortable as I am about tiptoeing across NDAs and revealing insider secrets, in order to get my Like level up’ed, I’ll tell you a couple of things. First of all, Apple, which is obsessed with circles (their new headquarters building, the new Mac, the head shapes of some key employees, and their corn fields) will be introducing a saucer-shaped game machine boot-camped with iOS and Lemonade from Google for the holiday season. It will sell for $200 and will cast WiDi to 4K screens.NEW BOOK explores history of visual magic in computers

Also, (and boy am I going to get in trouble for this), Qualcomm has a new camera phone that takes X-rays and feeds a 3D printer making almost instantaneous skeletons. Scheduled for announcement just before Halloween, it’s expected to revolutionize the holiday.

Last, and far from least, Microsoft will fire Steve Ballmer next month and then announce a new line of smart TVs that take content from smartphones, tablets, and sniff cable boxes (although they are still working on the licensing issues of that). This will be rolled out at IFA and IBC in Europe.




Of course, these are just speculations and I can’t (and won’t) reveal my sources. But, as some of you know, I do have some deep and long term relationships with certain three-letter agencies in Virginia.