Have you heard about the free Amazon smart phones? On Friday, Jessica Lessin (the temporary location of a new technology news website) published a story, Amazon Wants to Offer Its Smartphone for Free. Who Will Follow? That’s not a totally ridiculous idea. Amazon doesn’t seem particularly interested in making money right now; they are only interested in crushing every other business on the planet. But it turned out that not only would other companies not follow, even Amazon won’t.
Will Oremus at Slate reports today that on Sunday, the site currently named Jessica Lessin printed a second article, Amazon: No Phone Launch “This Year” and “Would Not Be Free.” Well, that clears that up!
Oremus is very kind regarding the mix-up. And understandably so! People make mistakes. And maybe Amazon was thinking about releasing a free phone but when it went public, they pulled back. But there is something problematic about the idea of getting two stories out of a nonevent. For example, I could publish an article with the following headline:
Amazon Wants to Invest Millions in Frankly Curious
And then two days later I could publish:
Amazon: No Investment in Frankly Curious—Whatever it Is
Of course, it is necessary to have a reputation to destroy with such stunts. Certainly Jessica Lessin and the author Amir Efrati have that. But it isn’t clear that their reputations are damaged, much less destroyed. It’s because everyone pretty much agrees that journalism is little more than a game. I might not agree with that when it comes to politics and wars. But when it comes to technology reporting, it’s hard to care. It has become little more than an industry of professional cheerleaders for various corporations.