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The Media

ACM "Crossroads" E-Zine Does Special Linux Issue 29

amit_kr writes "ACM electronic magazine 'Crossroads' has an entire issue dedicated to Linux. Perhaps more interestingly, 'Crossroads' is sponsored in part by Microsoft. Do you think they asked Microsoft before running this issue? :-)" Actually, Amit, most reputable publications - even ones many Slashdot readers think are "bought" by Microsoft - are pretty strict about keeping a strong "wall" between the ad people and the editorial departments. But the irony here is still fun - and the articles are excellent, too, and well worth reading, no matter who sponsored them.
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ACM "Crossroads" E-Zine Does Special Linux Issue

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  • Well, I went to the link and had a quick look around, in particular in the network security section.
    Let's just say the word "firewall" doesn't feature in it once.
    While I was expecting a relatively waffly & vague & uncertain report on "security", it gets marginally better further down. I'd go as far as to say that someone with a brain wrote the original and then it got attacked by the editors...

    And they *must* learn to write HTML properly, as I refuse to read the stuff that scrolls off the right of the screen.

  • A little off-topic, but it's nice to see the _Slashdot_ editorial staff inserting a reality check about the difference between sponsorship and influence....

    God knows that _I_, at least, am sick of seeing AC's posting 'yes, but M$ bought them off' as 50% of the commentary on ZDNET stories, for instance.

  • I wholeheartedly agree. 'We' need more of that attitude to make 'us' look less like zealots with an allergy to everything that's even remotely related to MS.

    And while we're at it: The advocacy-miny-howto is a must-read IMHO. Especially Chapter 6:
  • I always like the demand of slashdot readers that the sites always keep a wall between themselves and their sponsor. Or even more generally that publications keep a wall between themselves and their sponsors. Do I agree? Of course.

    However, my question is why Do the sponsors keep a wall between themselves and the publication? Here I always read the arguments that in order for the public to respect the publication as a legitimate source, there must be the "wall".

    Let's face it though. Maybe I'm understimating the American people, but I don't think it matters. Often, I think that the sponsors would make a hell of lot more money if they did not keep themselves separated from the publication.

    In reality, the majority of readers would not notice the omissions of the blurbs saying that "Microsoft is a partner in MSNBC news."

    Eh, I'm tired. I know I didn't finish this thought, but hey, I guess you can probably tell where it was going.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    The sad fact of the matter is that you'll almost never get a clean break between the ad sponsors and the editorial room, it's a simple fact when dealing with sponosored publications. If the opinions in an article upset sponsors, then you will lose sponsors, and their money.

    The notion that you can get clean unbiased opinion from a sponsored publication is idealistic and naive.

    Everything you read has spin, it's a fact of life and you should just accept it

  • So you think that "Crossroads" is just another M$ mouthpiece ?

    Look who's behind Crossroads -- the ACM ! They've been around longer than Bill has had a TRS-80. It's impossible that an organisation like the ACM would ever allow themselves to be used in that way -- and if they ever do get to that state, then it really is time to man the barricades and defend humanity against the Redmond horde.

    Paranoia is a good thing in moderation, but not everything is a plot by the M$ cabal (much of it is Murdoch's fault)


  • ok, nitpicking... :)

    Crossroads also comes in a print edition, and I got my "linux" edition a week or two ago. It's part of the ACM "Student package" deal. Pretty nice deal, btw: you get "crossroads", "communications" and a nifty email adress.
    Best part of it all is access to the ACM digital library, loaded with many of the most important papers in CS history.

    And if you do as we managed, you convince your administration to sponsor the member fee :) - eivind (Norway)

  • I had a quick look at the networking section. I quote:

    Please note that the examples given here are from the Slackware distribution. The paths of the files might be different on other distributions of Linux.

    Fair enough, at least they mention it, but to use Slackware as illustration is not representative of Linux as a whole. In particular, no other distribution I've come across still uses that nasty /etc/rc.d/rc.inet2 file. Since virtually all the other distributions use SysV style init scripts (and rightly so, IMNSHO), it would have been better to use that for illustrative purposes.

  • An AC wrote: > not everything is a plot by the M$ cabal (much of it is Murdoch's fault)

    Damn right. Mr Murdoch (or is it Sir Rupert) makes Bill look like the girl scout winner of the Wet Blanket of the Millennium Award. Here is a man who decides national elections, by dictating editorial policy to his (many) media outlets. Bill really can't measure up.

    Rupert Murdoch is the kind of person you might expect to find stroking a white cat and saying "So, Mr Bond, you have discovered my little nuclear weapons cache....".
    Bill Gates would be in Whitehall, handing out the ordinary-looking briefcase containing a tuna sandwich and a copy of Penthouse, but which explodes when you enter the combination "MSFT", only it turns out that it will actually work if you enter any combination of four letters ... "with hilarious consequences"! (As they used to say in the TV Times)


  • Ok, lets presume there is a wall between the marketing and editorial side of the fence. The editorial side is still providing a service to its readers. As are the advertisers who subsidise each issue. Assume the advertisers of Microsoft-based software don't mind the Linux issue. The editors are still people who need to eat. They need to keep the magazine churning out copies, and getting them in the hands of the consumers. If their consumer base dwindles, they starve. Therefore, by positioning themselves as a windows magazine, they *need* to continue with the windows coverage as their primary focus. The Linux issue is a wonderful way to say, "hey, all you windows folks who keep wondering what this linux stuff is, here you go". And that is a service to their readership. Turning into an all-linux magazine overnight is not.

    There is a *remarkable* trend in Windows magazines to praise everything coming out of Redmond. Why? Count how many pages of advertising in the magazine are for Microsoft products. Compare that to every other advertiser in the magazine. Do the math.

    Remember when Windows95 first came out? Not one magazine gave the Windows 95 beta releases a glowing review, even allowing for the "not officially released" factor. They panned the dramatic shift in the user interface. They railed against the instability (but keep in mind, it's still not the real thing). They hated the huge increase in disk usage just for the base OS. And for no noticeable performance game. When Win95 was officially released, however, *every* magazine praised the glorious new interface, its relative stability inncrease over Win3.x (not saying much, i know). They shrugged off the disk usage factor by listing all the cool "features" it provided. There was a dramatic change in general opinion around the time it was officially released, as every magazine realized that there magazines future for the next few years was tied into how many people would be running Windows 95, and software written for it, and used products that the advertisers made for Windows 95.

    The change physically sickened me, and I haven't bought a "Windows only" computer magazine since.
  • Well, just for the record...the general editors
    of Crossroads do not see the advertisements
    during the editorial process. In fact, we see
    the spiffy ads at the same time the rest of the
    readers get the print issue.

    -Kevin Fu
  • Normally, I would agree with Roblimo's didactic statement about journalistic independence. However, I think Microsoft is an exception. They have a long and well-documented history of shocking abuses. I'm no conspiracy theorist, but when someone suggested that the recent Linux-versus-BSD article on MSNBC was an attempt to fragment the free software movement, I was willing to believe it. This is the company that has faked demos for court, paid off professors to drop its name in class, muscled OEMs into bundling its OS exclusively, devoted huge development efforts to a free browser just to crush a potential competitor, and made umpteen deliberately non-compliant variants of protocols just to break third-party products. They know no morality. I don't trust them any further than I'd trust Pol Pot.

    Beer recipe: free! #Source
    Cold pints: $2 #Product

  • I agree whole-heartedly. My faculty advisor where I go to college is a frequent contributor to ACM publications. Accusing him of being a Microsoft mouthpiece would be about as ridiculous as making that accusation of Richard Stallman.
  • Let's face it though. Maybe I'm understimating the American people, but I don't think it matters. Often, I think that the sponsors would make a hell of lot more money if they did not keep themselves separated from the publication.

    There's a catch: The people are not unified, and thank Cthulhu, they never will be. There's a nerdy/picky/bitter/arrogant/whatever segment of the population whose money Ziff-Davis and Microsoft just aren't getting. In a relative sense, it isn't a lot of money compared to what the glass-eyed drooling hordes so thoughtlessly throw around to whoever has the most colorful covers. But in an absolute sense, it's real money that somebody would like a piece of.

    If you're thinking of starting a media venture, you can opt to "sell out" and try to go for much larger market segment, but you'll be competing with the likes of PC Magazine, a TV show called "Friends", the latest Richard Gere and Julia Roberts movie, the Backstreet Boys, or whatever. Maybe you'll succeed, but you're more likely to get slaughtered. It's analogous to trying to market a word processor or a spreadsheet to Windows users. It's a longshot gamble: big payoff, but unlikely to win.

    Or you can maintain some decent editorial principles, and try to go after a smaller market where there's less competition.

    The reason the some publication have to maintain a wall is so that they don't lose their niche customers, and be forced to compete with the Big Boys. So I guess the question (of whether or not to have integrity) is just another marketing decision. Economically, it's not always bad, and it's not always good. (Andover may be wrestling with the question right now...)

    Also, some people do it for enjoyment. :-) We're all taught that the sole purpose of a business is to make profit with no other considerations, but that just isn't always true. Some musicians play heavy metal even though they know they could make more money playing industrial-rap-core. Do you think CmdrTaco originally did Slashdot with thoughts of riches?

    Have a Sloppy day!
  • Thank you for supporting my point so eloquently.
  • Boring?

    Remember that not all of us use Linux simply for perusing Slashdot and playing Quake.

    I found the DSP Shell article really interesting. I sent a link to a machine vision company I used to work for.
  • For the record, there is a difference between a crappy, uninformed publication like most of the ones Ziff-Davis makes, that are made to pander to equally uninformed consumers and a serious group of publications such as CACM and the verious other ACM publications. There is a lot of very good technical info in a lot that ACM puts out.
  • ...and my comment about Microsoft was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek...

    of course! there is a "wall"!! i was just pointing out the irony....

    didn't like the fact that i was made out to look like an idiot... which i probably am anyways *grin*


10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.