The media

September 7, 2005

So at lunch today, me and few fellow Plaxo employees were discussing the media. Terry pointed out that nowadays, rumors have taken on a new dynamic. Here’s what normally happens:

  1. Bloggers come up with speculation
  2. The speculation swirls around on the blogosphere and may hit some big blogs like Engadget
  3. Slashdot picks it up
  4. News.com picks it up
  5. NYT, WSJ, Washington Post, and other newspapers of record see that there are 2-3 “reliable sources” and print the rumors as fact

Sometimes steps 1-4 happen in different order, and sometimes there might be a step 3.5 where a random wall street analyst throws in some wild speculation about what they think a company is doing as well. Next thing you know, Google OS, the next Apple move, the next Y! acquisition, and other random product speculation is being printed as fact. The news outlets probably try to check facts with the companies in question, but are given a “we can’t comment on that at this time” so they just make some assumptions and go to print.

A bit irresponsible, but you haven’t heard nothing yet…

This topic reminded me of what happened just yesterday. A fact checker called for Forbes magazine on behalf of a writer who is working on an article about Microsoft. Here’s how the conversation went:

Fact Checker: Hi, I’m calling to confirm a few details for an article being written up
Me: Umm ok, sure.
Fact Checker: Ok, so the reason features have been cut in Windows Vista/Longhorn was because of politics and infighting inside Microsoft right?
Me: Umm… what?
Fact Checker: You know, there was some struggle at the top levels at Microsoft…
Me: Umm… I’m not in a position to comment on that. Did you get that from my blog somewhere?
Fact Checker: Ok, what if we don’t quote you in the article? Infighting caused the slip and feature cuts in Longhorn right?
Me: Umm… I don’t think I’d make that statement.

I’m not exactly sure what was going on, but it sure seemed shady to me :-O

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No Responses Yet to “The media”


  1. I love it. I think your assessment is spot on. It’s almost entertaining to flip the televion on or sift through an actual newspaper to see content that’s been floating around the net for weeks. Citizen journalism (weblogs) is where news seems to focus these days. I just wrote a recent research paper on the two mediums – weblogs and mainstream media – feeding off one another. More of mainstream feeding off weblogs.

  2. Michael Says:

    Latest rumour: eBay about to by Skype

  3. The Noon Says:

    …. seems like the fact checker was deaf! What a sad case!

  4. Jason Says:

    It looks like the article went live. You can view it here. They do mention infighting and an obsession with powerpoint slides. I wonder if they actually found someone to corroborate their story.

  5. Jason Says:

    And you are quoted in the article.

    “Windows and Office would never let MSN have more budget or more control,” says Mark Jen, who quit Microsoft eight months ago. “MSN e-mail should talk to Office Calendar contacts and share appointments from Office with friends and family on the Web. But then MSN could cannibalize Office.”

  6. markjen Says:

    Huh… thanks for the link Jason. Off the top of my head, I don’t remember saying that, but I’m going to check into it.

  7. mike Says:

    Apparently Mark corroborated their story:

    …didn’t you NOT give them permission to quote you?

  8. mike Says:

    …umm yeah, bag tagging on my part.

    Anyway, whether you gave them permission or not, you’re quoted:

    “Windows and Office would never let MSN have more budget or more control,” says Mark Jen, who quit Microsoft eight months ago. “MSN e-mail should talk to Office Calendar contacts and share appointments from Office with friends and family on the Web. But then MSN could cannibalize Office.”


  9. […] Well, it looks like even with the conversation I had with their fact checker, Forbes has decided to print a quote from me anyways. It’s in their article titled “Microsoft’s Midlife Crisis” which came out today. […]


  10. Beware of Bloggers, a Warning to the Traditional Press


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