FC: Replies to technology reporter defends PressBlaster spam software

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Sat Feb 09 2002 - 05:55:10 PST

  • Next message: Declan McCullagh: "FC: Newspapers filter out "bad words" from email to their reporters"

    My (partial) email count from Thursday (filtering courtesy of Procmail):
    %grep "Thu Feb  7" log |wc -l
    Previous Politech message:
    Date: Fri, 8 Feb 2002 11:19:30 +0000
    To: declanat_private
    From: "Charles Arthur, The Independent" <carthurat_private>
    Subject: Re: FC: PressBlaster and the new form of journalism - agriculture
      vs hunter-gathering
    Hi Declan...
    I note Margie Wylie's comments....
     >From: Margie Wylie <margie.wylieat_private>
     >As "the press" it's our job, nay, our duty to take press releases and tips
     >from everyone so inclined to send them.
     >With this territory comes the inane, the irrelevant, the goofy, and, yes,
     >my favorite, the cranks.
     >I am dismayed by the attitude so prevalent these days among reporters that
     >people who "can't write a press release" have no business contacting them.
     >I am at loss to explain this attitude, but it does seem to be the kind
     >thinking that gets us labeled as an "elite" of corporate lapdogs who are
     >fed their stories by a professional corps of spinmiesters.
     >A free press is no use without free access to it.
     >I hate Spam as much as the next guy, but as long as someone is really
     >sending me a press release (even a bulk e-mail press release) and not
     >trying to sell me an "amazing new product" or a "secret investment tool,"
     >it seems to me that that is a legitimate use of my publicly available
     >professional e-mail address.
    The problem is, it seems to me, that journalism is moving from being a
    hunter-gatherer occupation - where one goes on the hunt for something,
    which takes cunning and ability and experience - to being agriculture. Big
    area to cover, lot of words, take the seed (press bumf) and spread it and
    water it with a little bit of knowledge and a call or two and there you
    are, a field (story) filled.
             It's competent, and it's filling, but it's also complete PR-driven
    rubbish. As a journalist, one really feels the difference between a
    hunter-gatherer-style story and an agriculture-style one. It's the
    difference between the woman who started looking into Enron's accounts
    properly and the one who just reports Enron's claims for their results.
    Personally, I think h-g style journalism is really under threat through
    tighter deadlines (why does all this tech not give us *more* time to write
    and research?), fewer people in the job, and more pointless PR flack spew
    pouring out of companies and into our inboxes.
    Stuff like PressBlaster, which thankfully I don't seem to be targeted by...
    yet... just accelerate that process. People think because they -
    particularly their company - have got something to say that you as a
    journalist should listen, and be excited because they are. I tend to growl
    at such folk. I suspect I have a reputation as the grouchiest tech hack in
    Fleet Street. Suits me fine, because not being called up by PR folk
    reciting a script about how they sent me an email yesterday and did I
    receive it and have I got any more questions gives me time to actually
    That doesn't stop me getting 200-odd emails a day - and I'd *really* like
    to know Declan's strategy for dealing with 1,000 - which I can only handle
    at all because I, alone in my office, use Eudora. Everyone else is on Lotus
    Notes, in a flat file format, and emails scroll up the screen.
    GTG. Phone is ringing...
    The Independent newspaper on the Web: http://www.independent.co.uk/
             It's even better on paper
    Date: Thu, 07 Feb 2002 18:33:09 -0500
    From: "Robin (Roblimo) Miller" <robinat_private>
    To: declanat_private
    Subject: Re: FC: Technology reporter defends PressBlaster spam software
    >I hate Spam as much as the next guy, but as long as someone is really 
    >sending me a press release (even a bulk e-mail press release) and not 
    >trying to sell me an "amazing new product" or a "secret investment tool," 
    >it seems to me that that is a legitimate use of my publicly available 
    >professional e-mail address.
    But isn't sending the following (PressBlaster) press release to editors at 
    a publication whose media guide listings all say it covers nothing but 
    Linux and Open Source software news really just spam? And isn't the lack of 
    a removal mechanism for people who receive email though alias addresses 
    rather rude? And isn't the "handful of target media contacts" line 
    somewhat, um, untrue?
    - Robin "Roblimo" Miller
    and now Linux.com too...
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                        # # #
    This Press Release is being sent to a handful of targeted
    media contacts who we felt were most appropriate to receive
    it. If you would like us to remove your email address from our
    list of occasional press releases, simply reply with the word
    "remove" in the subject line. You will never again receive a
    press release from us.
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