Fake News and CES

By Bob Raikes
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We managed to get our first issue of the year finished on time and we’re heading off to CES. Even with four of us, it’s hard to cover everything. Because of the overload, we won’t have an issue next week, although we will be doing some publishing online, as we will have team members that won’t be at the show. Our next pdf will be dated 19th January.
Ken wrote this week about the importance of ‘checking your facts’ before writing an article. It’s a constant battle to decide when to publish stories. This week, there was a huge flurry of stories about the security issue with CPUs this week. I wasn’t tracking it closely, but, initially, the story seemed to be all about an Intel bug, and Intel’s stock valuation fell 6%, but later in the week it became apparent that the problem is actually a new ‘class of attack’ that affects Intel, Arm and AMD chips – you can see a high level of detail about the problem here. Forbes has a list of fixes here.
I was attracted by a system that the FT used for some time that tried to balance the issues of immediacy and the need for reflection. The company sent out the titles of stories it was working on, and if you wanted to see the full article, you could click on the article. Then, when the company’s journalists had finished their fact checking and analysis, the article, or a link to it, was sent to you. Unfortunately, the system was discontinued, although I didn’t spot anything from the FT explaining why. Also, unfortunately, our current website would need a lot of development to offer that facility and budgets are too tight in our kind of specialist publishing to invest in sophisticated IT.
However, the Display Daily site does offer the facility of supporting RSS, which means that you can see articles as soon as they are published online. I use Postbox as an email client and that also supports RSS, which makes it convenient to see email and RSS in one place.
Of course, these days, we have Twitter and Facebook et al, and during the shows we do try to post some snippets (on @Display_Daily), but even keeping up wit that can be a challenge at CES! Perhaps I’m just too old – one of our younger writers was quite good at keeping up with it! I can just about manage the occasional post on Facebook for my family, and I occasionally tweet about soccer (as a commentator on the local team I follow checks his feed and it’s nice to get a ‘shout out’ when he is giving the commentary!), but I really can’t get the hang of Twitter. Maybe that is why the platform seems to have stalled in its growth.
Anyway, we try very hard at Meko to be very clear when things we report are claims or have been verified. If you see us report that somebody is the biggest in the world, that’s because we have some evidence to suggest it’s accurate or, at least, we are confident that the claim is true. Otherwise, we’ll report that the company claims this. When we take on a new writer, training them to ‘weed out’ false claims and superlatives is often one of the things that takes the most effort. PRs are often clever at sneaking such things into releases, so it’s part of the game we play with them to strip them out. At one time, I developed a macro that automatically changed a lot of the language in press releases, but it didn’t survive a system change a few years ago!
Meanwhile, if you have something that you would like to show us at CES, there may still be time to arrange a meeting. If you’d like to do so, contact me at bobr@meko.co.uk.
Bob