Together we can end the scourge of the Apple rumor machine

You know the Apple rumor mill has hit full tilt when word leaks of 'Terminator 2'-style iPhones. It's time to end the gossip cycle

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Rumormongers get a taste of their own medicine

Speaking of sobbing fanboys, today's news also brings us another delightful screed on the current sorry state of tech journalism, courtesy of TechCrunch blogger-turned-venture-capitalist MG Siegler. Regular readers will recall that I've had a few disagreements with Siegler over the years, putting me in excellent company with Dan Lyons, Jason Pontin, and Kara Swisher, among other tech journos of note.

After years of writing invisibly sourced, aggressively speculative stories that turned out to have no basis in actual fact -- then "re-reporting" them later as not true without ever publishing a retraction or admitting any errors -- Siegler now has issues with the accuracy of tech reporting. To wit:

... on any given day, I'd say 75 percent of what you read in the tech press is somewhat accurate, 20 percent is complete b***s***, and 5 percent is actually true. ...

There has long been a "speed versus accuracy" debate within the tech blogosphere. When I was in that world, I was definitely in the "speed" camp. Get something out there and let the truth reveal itself -- process journalism, baby. If the readers aren't comfortable with that, let them read elsewhere.

But my fear now is that we're veering too far into the world of half-truths and straight-up b***s***. Everything reported on, no matter how inaccurate is often taken as gospel and spread further. Speed and exaggeration have won, accuracy and nuance are nearly dead. It's not quite another age of yellow journalism yet, but we're getting there.

Ya think? This is a little like Paula Deen suddenly coming out in favor of the NAACP and the health benefits of low-cholesterol foods.

I suspect a few years from now, after his CrunchFund has withered away and Siegler no longer gets to play with other people's money, he will have a come-to-Jesus moment about venture capitalists as well. (Hint: They're not such swell guys after all.)

TechCrunch, Boy Genius Report, and their ilk helped create this infernal rumor machine, and now they desperately need to keep it alive to survive. I say the sooner someone drives a stake through its heart, the better -- less noise, more signal. Besides the fanboys and the traffic whores, does anyone give a rat's posterior about whether the next iPhone will be 4.5 inches wide and available in Orange Orange?

A wise man guy once said:

Don't write something because you can. Write something because you should. Or don't write anything at all.

Oh wait, that was Siegler, too. I look forward to the day he and his blogging comrades actually follow that advice.

Heard any Apple rumors you actually believe? Post them below or email me:

This article, "Together we can end the scourge of the Apple rumor machine," was originally published at Follow the crazy twists and turns of the tech industry with Robert X. Cringely's Notes from the Field blog, and subscribe to Cringely's Notes from the Underground newsletter.

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