Bonum Certa Men Certa

Why Journalism is Junk

Traditional coverage of Novell deemed untrustworthy

We have consistently been critics of the press, always arguing against blind trust in the integrity of mainstream media, which disregards important issues such as where the publisher's money is sometimes derived from. Occasionally, the press uses sensationalism for profit and sloppiness is seen as acceptable as long as it conforms with 'popular view', i.e. that which aligns with consensus among companies involved.



“...[S]loppiness is seen as acceptable as long as it conforms with 'popular view', i.e. that which aligns with consensus among companies involved.”Among the key issues: parroting of PR, sound bites, daemonisation terms, words from the sponsor and all sorts of self-appointed analysts whose clients often include the companies they comment on.

Richard Stallman encourages people to shun mainstream journalism and instead subscribe to the views and interpretations of trusted blogs. A couple of examples from the past week show just how poor the press can be, but in order to find out for oneself, one must align some sources and lay out the evidence, which we did.

Virtualisation Example



Here's a couple of new 'articles' about PlateSpin, which is a old acquisition target of Novell. The following two items have shown up in the Indian press. One is a press release and the other is a case of very cheap pseudo-journalism. Mind the subtle differences between the two:

Exhibit #1: Novell's PlateSpin tech helps supercomputing leader

Novell today announced that the New Zealand Supercomputing Centre (NZSC) has chosen one of its PlateSpin€® workload management products to automate the management of its on-demand computing infrastructure. Together with partner InterGrid, the NZSC hosts high-intensity computing projects for oil companies, bio-pharmaceutical enterprises, movie production houses and universities.


Exhibit #2: Novell PlateSpin helps in cost-cutting

Novell announced that the New Zealand Supercomputing Centre (NZSC) has chosen one of its PlateSpin workload management products to automate the management of its on-demand computing infrastructure. Together with partner InterGrid, the NZSC hosts high-intensity computing projects for oil companies, bio-pharmaceutical enterprises, movie production houses and universities.


Novell's involvement in supercomputing is also mentioned in the following press release from New Zealand's Webzine, which is identical to Exhibit #1.

Novell today announced that the New Zealand Supercomputing Centre (NZSC) has chosen one of its PlateSpin€® workload management products to automate the management of its on-demand computing infrastructure. Together with partner InterGrid, the NZSC hosts high-intensity computing projects for oil companies, bio-pharmaceutical enterprises, movie production houses and universities.


The 'article' in the middle is actually not very original. Looking at the three items above (especially the opening paragraph, which is just a bite-sized sample representing a broader pattern), what might one conclude? Does it inform the reader?

Since we already know that PR lies, it's too dangerous to just repeat the words of press releases without a single challenge. It's copied almost verbatim. If people conduct research using the Web some time in the future, what message will be taken away?

Love birds
Parroting is not reporting



GWAVA Example



Here is a new press release from GWAVA.

GWAVA Delivers GroupWise Web Access Users More Security and Flexibility



GWAVA, Novell's largest technology partner for GroupWise, announced today the latest version of WASP 2, the leading spam and anti-virus solution for GroupWise WebAccess. This release comes at a time when an increasing number of GroupWise users are enjoying the flexibility of the internet to access their important messaging information. However, with the flexibility comes challenges to filter unwanted content and keep viruses from invading your organization.


One can always rely on TMCnet to rewrite the press release very slightly and then publish it to make pseudo-journalism that merely casts press releases as "articles".

GWAVA's Latest Version WASP Enhanced with More Security and Flexibility



GWAVA, a company focused to provide best solutions to the Novell GroupWise community and to meet the unique needs of GroupWise organizations, has released the latest version of WASP 2, spam and anti-virus solution.


The recipe at TMCnet: copying and pasting press releases, then editing some more. This does not turn a press release into an article. To the best of our understanding, it may be illegal in Japan.

What are the chances of collecting a critical assessment from the press? Heck, who needs reporting anyway? Being cynical, let companies just write the news for the 'mere mortals'. Let us subscribe to the belief that if SCO says Linux stole code, then it must be true. But... we can do better.

"On the same day that CA blasted SCO, Open Source evangelist Eric Raymond revealed a leaked email from SCO's strategic consultant Mike Anderer to their management. The email details how, surprise surprise, Microsoft has arranged virtually all of SCO's financing, hiding behind intermediaries like Baystar Capital."

--Bruce Perens

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