The reputation of the news media is in the toilet, no question about it. Pissing on the competition probably doesn't help. Meanwhile, there's more to this job than downloading and digesting press releases. Flushing out scoops is how reporters can get ahead, if they're willing to resort to some irregular reporting methods.
Sources close to AOLscape report that at this week's closed-door pow-wow with honchos Bob Pittman and Barry Schuler, News.com's own Tim Clark was rousted from a Netscape Porta-Potty. Denied entry to the event-in-a-tent, the enterprising Clark found refuge in a mobile lavatory situated within earshot of the tent until concerned staff informed security guards that "someone is having difficulty with the toilet."
"I was actually using the facility when security pulled up and it seemed unwise to exit then," explained Clark. "Except that I did when it became clear they weren't going away."
Those damn Porta-Potty lurkers! Meanwhile, Clark has the distinction of having been thrown off some of Silicon Valley's finest campuses--this run-in with Netscape security was not his first.
Meanwhile, as news of the great News.com pooper scooper makes the rounds, the question on everyone's lips is, "Can't a reporter get no relief?"
Another Netscape tale circulating on the rumor mill concerns Mike Homer, senior VP in charge of Netcenter under Netscape (R.I.P), now merely executive VP in charge of Netcenter under AOL. Rumor has it Homer's so irked about his titular demotion that he's not for long at the reorganized company.
While Homer didn't get back to us immediately on this one, Clark met with Homer directly after his security snafu and says it rings false. "Homer did not look like a guy who was quitting or pissed off," Clark reports. "He expounded for 30 minutes and I didn't pick up anything negative."
IDG ("Technology Publishing for Dummies") lackeys at the Industry Standard are celebrating after learning that management has declared Friday, December 31, a holiday for the magazine. "Given the system concerns, travel concerns, and all the other speculation, having the whole day off would contribute to peace of mind for many," HR informed staffers. TGIY2K!
Not that the Standard is slacking. On the contrary, the technews paper and pixel upstart is surprising itself by doing a bang-up business on the Web site--and on the conference circuit as well. "Partly because everyone's so bored with all the same old conferences," sniped one connoisseur. "Esther Dyson's PC Forum was so boring--there were more 'flacks' per square inch than anything I've ever seen."
The Standard, by contrast, is looking for a higher caliber of conference. They're going to keep the riff-raff out, and I'm not just talking about flacks:
"Space is extremely limited," warn conference chairs Bill Gurley and Mary Meeker in their Summit 99 invite. "We want to keep the quality of the audience high so this invitation is not transferable." What? You mean I can't invite my Finnish ballerina with the turquoise dreadlocks? All I can say is they'd better put Bill and Mary on Sani-Hut patrol, because where there's a will there's a way.
But I was saying something about the media--oh yes, Ammonia Blossom forwards this item from Slipup.com, which references Wired News's March 23 coverage of PC Forum:
"In a dinner speech, Washington Post chair Katherine Graham shared her deepest fears about news on the Internet. Online news degrades the authority, accuracy, and standards of traditional newspapers, she warned.
"Jonathan Weber, editor-in-chief of the Industry Standard, took to the mike and informed her that Internet newsrooms exist that uphold the standards of traditional journalism. After a long pause, the grand dame of American journalism issued a short correction: 'OK.'"
Slipup.com had a correction of its own:
"Unfortunately for Wired News, which linked to its own staff box as an example of high journalistic standards, the woman's name is Katharine..."
But who is CNET to talk about typos? The company posted a Web site in support of its bid to invade former Army base at the Presidio. CNET sent out a press release hyping its new Web site at presidiovillage.com, but gave the URL "presidiovilliage.com."
"A search on presidiovilliage.com says it's still available," noted one enterprising CNET staffer. "Who wants in on buying it with me and selling to CNET with nominal 'transfer fee' attached?" While we wait for Halsey to get back to us on our offer, may I offer you the opportunity to appear in the Rumor Mill? Send me a rumor and I'll hook you up.