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Personal Views on Yellow Journalism at the webOS Hackathon

By Hervé St-Louis
October 16, 2012 - 11:35

This stub article was originally part of my full report on the webOS Hackathon and Enyo workshop I organized for Semaphore Lab, a research cluster at the Faculty of Information at the University of Toronto. I split my personal criticism about yellow journalism here to allow the other article to read smoothly and without any bitterness! There was a lot of good analytical work done about Enyo and webOS that deserved to stand without any acrimony. But if you want to read something more negative acrimonious, here it is!

I was a bit annoyed at the news of the Open webOS being ported to a Samsung Slate 7 because of the sensationalist way it was done without any context and by a participant who did not bother to explain the context of the event and just try to get a primer for a small blog. This was a clear example of yellow journalism. This budding blogger is trying to replace the Pivot magazine published by HP on the TouchPad. HP has ceased to update Pivot following the TouchPad cancellation and dumping from 2011, following its decision to gut it’s webOS team (which I tend to refer to as Palm). It’s not the way to start publishing a venerable news magazine that will entertain webOS enthusiasts.

There was a lack of discretion and the “reporter” who reported the porting was more interested in posting a primer and trying to get some scoop from Palm employee Roy Sutton, than really produce something analytical, critical and comprehensive about the hackathon that would advance knowledge. Mere seconds had passed after his recorded video showing Open webOS booting up on the Samsung device was uploaded to YouTube and tweeted. There was no introspection and no delay. The whole ordeal was to get a few hits and a primer on something considered news.

Later, when the “reporter” took pictures of paraphernalia used by Sutton during the demo, that wasn’t meant to be displayed to the public, I specifically told the reporter to not take pictures or to report on the confidential gear displayed. He disregarded my warning and ignored Sutton’s uneasiness about the pictures-taking and tweeted about it on Twitter as loudly as he could. That his action might negatively affect Sutton’s relationship with his employers was of no consequences. The “reporter” had to have his scoop, even if there was nothing to scoop and his actions were more a breach of trust which ran against the nature of the event Semaphore Lab was hosting.

I know there are a lot of webOS fans out there, seeking news or anything to latch on to while they wait after HP to announce something substantial. But when you meet an HP employee, don’t push them in a corner trying to extract information from them. Try instead to understand that some of your probing may negatively affect the work they try to do to make Open webOS a solid platform for smartphones, tablets and computers. I don’t think the revelations made on Twitter are career destroying, but the indiscretion of the “reporter” is dully noted. Next time, he won’t be invited.

Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12

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