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Veteran Editor Forgets Journalism Basics

Friends, your faithful scribe has been attacked, reviled, subjected to ridicule and hostility. Bob Evans, senior VP at TechWeb (which, incidentally, competes with nearly every property I run) came across my item about Oracle buying Sun.

In that item I said, "I admit it: I'm a huge fan of Sun Microsystems...But it soon may no longer be a company at all as the European Union this week approved Oracle's proposed $7.4 billion buyout. It's such a done deal that Larry Ellison is planning a Hugo Chavez-style five-hour company and press event next week on the matter."

Evans decided to give me a lesson in journalism. In his mind, I was directly comparing Larry Ellison to Hugo Chavez.

But if you read my sentence correctly, you can see I'm comparing the "company and press event" to a Chavez event. It's a simple metaphor.

Evans lays further groundwork, suggesting that maybe I "got confused and was thinking of Fidel Castro, who like Chavez is also a brutal tyrant but who has legitimately earned his reputation for long-windedness for the past 60 years in Cuba."

Anyone who knows anything about Chavez knows that he loves to give marathon speeches. A quick Google search could have told Evans that.

So Mr. Evans' entire premise is wrong, but he uses it anyway to attack me and one of my properties, saying, "The one and only thing a media brand has going for it is credibility with readers. And when nitwits like Barney write gratuitous and vicious things about a CEO of Ellison's caliber, it just adds to the growing disillusionment so many people have these days with media properties that fail to respect the audiences' intelligence..."

And, as if the reader didn't already know how he feels, Evans calls me "asinine." This guy is pulling out all the stops!

Mr. Evans is also a mind reader, as he makes clear in this passage: "Is Larry Ellison's [sic] everybody's hero? Surely not. Can he be hard-edged and savagely competitive? You bet he can, and those traits lead to another quality of Ellison's that Barney and perhaps others object to: he's one of the wealthiest people in the world."

Let me get this straight. Even though I never maligned Mr. Ellison, somehow Evans thinks I'm jealous of his wealth. Mr. Evans is an adjunct professor at Carnegie Mellon. Does he teach students to make such leaps of logic?

Now here's a lesson for Mr. Evans, and I won't use words like "nitwit" and "asinine" to make my point. Even in blogs and newsletters, writers have to be careful and statements should be grounded in fact. Evans didn't parse my sentence properly and falsely argued that Hugo Chavez isn't known for long speeches. That double-error is the same kind of shoot-from-the-hip journalism Evans falsely accused me of.

I've been wrong many times, and when I am, I admit it publicly. In fact, loyal Redmond Report readers are the ones that keep me on the straight and narrow.

Mr. Evans is a different animal. He refuses to admit any error and seems quite happy with what he's done. Unlike him, I'll show some class and not say how I truly feel.

Yesterday, I posted a comment on Evans' blog, to which he responded in a rather evasive manner. When I tried to respond, the system blocked my post. I'm still shut out of the comments section. I'm not sure if this is a glitch or censorship, but unlike Evans, I'm not going to jump to any conclusions.

Whether you agree with me or Bob, feel free to share your comments on his blog. Of course, as a loyal Redmond Report reader, you're more than welcome to write me at [email protected].

Posted by Doug Barney on January 27, 2010