July 20, 2001

Web review: Inquirer brings wry twist to tech reporting

Author: JT Smith

- by Tina Gasperson -
I found a UK site with some original tech reporting and a flair reminiscent of The Register. One of the current stories at The Inquirer, "Arrested Russian 'Worked' for FBI" reveals that imprisoned programmer Dmitry Sklyarov's Russian employer has ties with the American law enforcement agency that snagged Sklyarov during DefCon.Prominently displayed on the front page is a "Capellas Countdown" ticker, a graphical representation of the time left before Compaq CEO Mike Capellas must fulfill a promise to "radically restructure" his company, according to a memo obtained by The Inquirer.

Other recent headlines include "Intel Blue Men to Die?", "Users Outraged at Dell Memory Cost", and "WinXP Has Fatal Design Flaw." All of these were penned by one Mike Magee, who claims to be the editor. Looks like he's chief cook and bottle washer as well, unless the rest of the staff is locked in the closet.

Magee has included a section on the site entitled "Gutter Watch," which is a fun little collection of rumors and gossip about the tech industry. Some of these are gems worthy of much more recognition. Up until now they've passed by largely unnoticed (at least by me), but chatty little stories like "Intel CEO Pours Scorn on Press" are fun to read as well as informative.

Another story in the Gutter Watch hints at Magee's background: "The big firms have realised that while the average person may still buy her or his PC from a
big shop or store, there is a huge bunch of people who aren't afraid to build their own
systems and there's now a vast audience of hardware sites to cater for them -- many more
than there were when I first started my hardware roundup at The Register over three years
back."

Some stories are just plain silly, such as the one entitled, "Magee Caught With Fan, Woman" which features a photo of Magee beside an unidentified woman with a black bar covering her face in order to hide her identify, and an electric fan.

Magee's sardonic side is exposed with articles like "How Journalists Write IT News," a mostly true look at the ways most tech sites gather their daily headlines:

"You put together a list of bookmarks of the main news
sites, look at them every morning, and copy them during the course of the day. To avoid treading on
the very sensitive corns of news editors, avoid using this "copy" word. Instead, apply the unguent
made up of the soothing phrases "follow a story up", or "add value to a story" or "spin a story". This
lazy way of writing what you choose to describe as news means, these days, an endless series of
different wires all seemingly copying, sorry following up, each others' stories. The lazy bones. It's
shameless, it's cheap, it's nasty. But it's modern IT journalism and not good for the reader."

Obviously, Magee hasn't read NewsForge yet -- but we can't fault him for that, because up until now we hadn't read The Inquirer either. We're hooked now.

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