newsforge story

Robin Robin
Wed Sep 5 22:37:21 UTC 2001

I personally checked Tina's NewsForge story before publication. She did
not use any of the personal attacks that have appeared on this
discussion list, but quouted only comments and questions about the
licensing process itself and how it might be improved.

> I agree.  I wish they had, rather than using a single quote from the
> mailing list, use the list as a guide for the people to whom they
> should direct questions, and what questions to ask.

That would be nice, but we don't have 100+ people (or deep pockets) like
Salon or the New York Times. Tina already works 60+ hours per week. I
can't ask her to do more than she does. In my opinion (as her boss) Tina
is doing an excellent job of reporting, considering our limited

Dudget aside, think how that NewsForge story would have turned out if it
had been written by a "mainstream" reporter unfamiliar with the often
argumentative process at the heart of most open source decision-making
instead of by someone sympatheic to "the cause."

Tina is in a position similar to that of a sportswriter at a local
newspaper. Sure, she roots openly (sourcely?) for the home team, but
when there is dissension in the clubhouse she is obligated to report on
it even if it doesn't put the team in the best possible light.
Naturally, the team owners and managers immediately claim the reporting
wasn't as accurate as it should have been. 

Writing about "in-group" matters for an "outsider" audience may be the
hardest journalistic task there is. No matter how delicately you handle
your subject matter, someone will go away unhappy. This is why so many
journalists seem to spend their days rewriting press releases instead of
doing real reporting; it's not only easier than going out and digging
for stories, but it's a lot safer.

Like it or not, open source licensing is going to become a hot topic,
not only for NewsForge's tech-hip audience, but for the entire business
world. Tina is probably covering this area more closely than any other
reporter in the world right now. I urge you to work with her and make
sure she is as well-informed as possible so that she can write the most
accurate and interesting stories possible. 

BTW, NewsForge happily accepts "outside" opinion pieces. If you want to
get *your* point of view across, we'll happily help you do it. Before
you write, you may want to send a query to editors at to make
sure we don't have a similar story in the works already or haven't
already run a piece similar to the one you would like to write. 

Now I need to reply to an article request from a major (US) national
newspaper. Imagine trying to explain open source and free software
licensing to a readership that thinks the world begins and ends with
Windows! There are days when I wish I could stomach "celebrity
journalism," which is easier (and pays a lot better) than dealing with
the complex personal, technical and legal issues that surround
leading-edge software development... :)

- Robin "Roblimo" Miller
  Editor in Chief, OSDN
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