IT news rarely makes the mainstream media, and when it does it tends to be for reasons we wouldn’t generally cover. This time, it's different — our latest editorial acquisition, Colin "Not A Cloggie" Barker, got a tip-off last week and has been tenaciously nipping at Time Computer's heels over rumours that things ain’t right. Nonsense, says Time. Just a disgruntled employee causing problems.
Ah, but no. The administrators are in, there is ‘absolutely no money’ in the place and 1,500 employees are really very disgruntled indeed as they are out on their ears with no pay and no redundo. I’ve been in that situation myself, and it’s very low on the list of fun things to happen: the pain that’s being poured out on various online forums is all too familiar.
One of the rather dismal aspects of journalism is that a good story provokes joy, and a good story that you break provokes great joy — and stories that involve a lot of misery tend to be very good. So it’s with mixed emotions that we watch the story spread out across online news and thence into the papers and the broadcast media. Those emotions are doubly mixed when certain broadcasters choose to interview journos from other publishing houses over the affair. That’s our fifteen minutes of fame, dammit!
The other mixed-up bit of IT journalism is that being first with the story isn’t the advantage you think it might be. Online searches order by time and date, so readers tend to find the latest rather than the earliest version: hang around a day or so when something kicks off, and you’ll probably get a much larger number of hits over the following three or four days than the hard-working hack who put in the spadework. That’s easily fixable by updating your story — which kicks off another round of updates from everyone else — or by writing subsidiary pieces about background or reaction. The motivation to do this is high if you feel you own a story by rights of discovery, and if you take a look at our news site over the past three or four days you’ll spot a lot of this going on.
And something tells me that this isn’t going to be the last we hear about Time or its various associated companies. There are plenty of rumours to be picked up and a lot of good questions to be asked — and we intend to be at the asking end of many of them.