Monday, August 18, 2003

Reporting? What's that?

Today the Seattle Post-Intelligencer announced that RealNetworks would be distributing the first legal digital tracks from the Rolling Stones.

The article by PI business reporter Dan Richman, coyly larded with references to the Stones' tracks, went on to assert "Tunes by Madonna, Michael Jackson and the Beatles still aren't available on legal sites."

Yikes! Then where did all those Michael Jackson tracks in my iTunes come from? I could have sworn I purchased them from the Apple iTunes Music Store. Gosh golly gee.

Checking the iTunes Music Store and confirming that the Michael Jackson tracks were indeed there, I sent off an email to that effect to Dan Richman, including the phone number from the Apple Web site of the Apple PR person for iTunes.

Richman wrote back minutes later "sorry. i was just going by what realnetworks told me." (Obviously this man has a copyeditor who saves him the exertion of hitting the shift key, but unfortunately the PI hasn't gotten around to getting him a fact checker—or sending him to remedial journalism school.)

A couple minutes later I got cc'd on an email from Lisa Amore, the PR person at Real, admitting that she was the source of Richman's error. "I'm sorry if I misspoke. I was under the impression that there were no legal tracks of Michael Jackson online."

As a professional PR person, Lisa Amore is entitled to all the impressions she wants, particularly when they benefit her company, as this one certainly did.

The problem, of course, is Dan Richman and the PI. They obviously have no idea that they aren't in the business of broadcasting PR people's impressions under the guise of fact to thousands of readers. I've been bemoaning the imminent demise of the PI and Seattle's future as a one-newspaper town. Now I realize it won't make a bit of difference.