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Journal EnlightenmentFan's Journal: Reuters, CNN swallow Segway/Amazon press release

CNN just published as a front page story this Amazon press release. Reuters must not employ any of those hard-driving investigative reporters we loved in old 30s movies.

For example the "story" "reports"

  • "pre-orders already place the high-tech scooter in the top half percent of sales" Yeah? Each Segway costs $5000, while the average Amazon item costs maybe $50. So if Amazon sells 100 Segways in a month, it's in the same percentile as a book that sold 10,000 copies in the same month--that's pretty impressive sales for a book, pretty lousy sales for an item that got the publicity buzz Segway did.
  • "It's selling better than many of our digital cameras" Yeah? And is Amazon the only retailer selling digital cameras, the way it is the only retailer selling Segways? In fact, do you know anybody who would go to Amazon to buy a digital camera?
  • "Frazier declined to provide actual pre-sale numbers" I am sure the carefully phrased hype provided is much closer to what CNN readers care about.

What got left out of the "news story" is also interesting. There is no mention of the financial stake that Amazon has in pumping up Segway sales by releasing phony hype aimed at making the product look more popular than it is.

Some local Clark Kent did inject one note of reality in the final sentence: "in San Francisco a debate is raging over whether the human transporter should be allowed on that city's streets. " That debate stopped raging a week ago. According to the Dec. 20 SF Chronicle , after extensive public discussion 9 of 11 supervisors have voted to ban the Segway, enough to overturn the mayor's veto if he decides to try one.

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Reuters, CNN swallow Segway/Amazon press release

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