Business Week refutes FT.com’s Apple story, quotes “people in a position to know”

March 20, 2008

Yesterday I posted a story from the FT that basically says Apple and the labels are talking about an unlimited download subscription for people who buy and iPod or iPhone. Angry about being scooped Bussiness Week posted a story saying the Financial Times has either been speaking with Snoop Dog or smoking his stuff, cause the Apple story was bull. Where is their evidence you ask?

Reports that Apple is discussing an “all-you-can-eat” subscription music service with major record labels are overblown, say people in a position to know.

Thats right they are refuting the Financial Times story by paraphrasing an HR Block tag line. They got people? Wait you say, surely Business Weeks has more evidence then that, they must have a quote, a named source, something more substantial. Here it is, the smoking gun:

[The Apple unlimited subscription] would use that premium to create a pool of revenue, a portion of which would be divided among the major music labels, the newspaper said.

Trouble is, no such talks are under way, according to people familiar with Apple’s plans. An Apple spokesperson declined to comment. Insiders at major music labels were similarly dismissive.

So lets review, “people in a position to know” told Business Week’s Arik Hesseldahl that nothing was going on between Apple and the labels and this version of the story was corroborated by “people familiar with Apple’s plans”. The PR Flacks at Apple and the labels hung-up everytime Arik called them and he took it as evidence that the Financial times was wrong.

Now I’m not saying that the FT story was some great piece of reporting or that I necessarily believe all of it, but Business Week needs raise its game a bit. When a venerable news weekly with ungodly sums of money and decades worth of reporting experience sitting on its bench runs with poorly researched crap with no credible citations or sources, its no better then a blog. I dont want major weeklies running with innuendo, rumor and hearsay. Thats what I’m here for. I want them to give me some facts with names of real people attached to them, so I can poke holes and look for flaws or fallacies. There is a reason bloggers are not journalist and its really important that the journalist remember that.

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PEJ: News generates more heat but less light, more voices but fewer conversations and bigger audiences but and smaller purses

March 17, 2008

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The Project for Excellence in Journalism released its encyclopedic omnibus study of news coverage across media in 2007. The study is a huge amalgam of information about the state of the news media and its future prospects, with 13 chapters covering everything from ethnic to online news. I continue to wade through the volumes of information offered by the PEJ report, but the exec summary helpfully offers these somewhat counter-intuitive trends:

  1. News is shifting from being a product — today’s newspaper, Web site or newscast — to becoming a service — how can you help me, even empower me?
  2. A news organization and a news Web site are no longer final destinations.
  3. The prospects for user-created content, once thought possibly central to the next era of journalism, for now appear more limited, even among “citizen” sites and blogs.
  4. Increasingly, the newsroom is perceived as the more innovative and experimental part of the news industry.
  5. The agenda of the American news media continues to narrow, not broaden.
  6. Madison Avenue, rather than pushing change, appears to be having trouble keeping up with it.

Based on these trends the builders of online news sites, be they ethnic centered blogs or major corporate affairs, can no longer build their model on the hope of simply informing users. Information is a commodity and the evolution of news must be away from generic information and towards a service which leverages information in some meaningful way. Creating a service, something that users care about , is not easy to do and is based on a skill set not native to newsrooms.