Defending My Scoop

I broke the news on Tuesday at about noon that Cometa Networks was ceasing operations. Several sites immediately hailed the fact that I'd beaten mainstream media with the scoop; Dan Gillmor posted an item, for instance.It's also slightly ironic that I'm being praised for breaking the news in a blog. If I'd had more confirmation and time, I would have written about it for one of the newspapers I contribute to. But given the timing and other factors, including getting sources on the record, I opted to break it locally and track it over the day so I could add details and keep it up to date. It was interesting to track the credit on this, though. The sequence started with an anonymous email from a Yahoo account. I discredited that email due to misspellings and the lack of any way to confirm it. But I did call and leave a message with Cometa's outside PR department, assuming that the rumor was false, but at least being a good journalist and checking directly with the company. I thought there was a story in the fact that someone was trying to discredit Cometa. But shortly after that, and before hearing back from the company, someone in the broader Wi-Fi industry send me email out of the blue telling me Cometa was shutting down. I called another trusted source to confirm, and, sure enough, it was absolutely true. I tried getting Cometa on the phone at about 11 am, but no luck; and no surprise, as they were probably meeting to figure out how to deal with notifying all partners and venues before the story broke. At around noon, after trying Cometa again, I decided that it was time to go with the story. I had total confidence in my sources, who I couldn't cite. I knew that no one else had the story because of the sources I'd spoken to, and I went with it. The posting time shows 12.18 pm on Tuesday. Shortly thereafter, Cometa's VP of marketing called me up, and gave me the full news. He said I was the first reporter they'd spoken to, as I'd broken the story. Within a few hours, and other sites had picked up the news.'s first and second versions of the story credited my site, while a third version (in some syndicated forms) dropped the credit, which was the last graf. Several other sites also credited Wi-Fi Networking News, but many did not, even though their stories were obviously rewritten versions of what I wrote. Some did call Cometa, but only after reading my story. Boingo Wireless put out a press release a little later in the day, which I blogged at 2.39 pm, and many news sources picked up the information from that release, which became their primary source. A colleague at one major newspaper said he would have given me credit had he known I'd broken it; the Boingo release triggered the story. Reuters did give my site credit, which is great. If you read Dan Gillmor's blog entry cited above, you see that Dave Kearns of Network World Fusion remarks, a number of places had the story yesterday, including Network World Fusion, with whom I'm associated. The story from IDG News Service on Network World cites a company spokesperson in the leading graf. Since I had my story filed a bit before Cometa spoke to me and I was the first person they spoke to, I broke the story. QED. Many other sites had the story that same day, but after mine. Another commenter suggests that Wi-Fi Planet had it first, but I can't find any evidence of that. They don't datestamp their entries. The second graf in the story cites the VP of marketing that I spoke to. Again, I filed my story before anyone else had spoken to Cometa. (The author of the piece wrote me after this post went up to confirm that I had it first; his posted after's. It's very gracious of him. We score a scoop on Wi-Fi Networking News occasionally; Wi-Fi Planet and both consistently beat print media on breaking news.) Why defend my scoop? Because I see more established news sites trying to pick away at my two-person band (Nancy Gohring and myself write the site) whether or not they're doing it purposely. originally called Wi-Fi Networking News an "enthusiast site," until I complained that I wasn't enthusiastic; they changed it quite promptly to "niche news site," which seems much more appropriate. It's a well-established practice as a journalist that if you find out about a story from another publication, not a source or your own research, you credit that source. If you don't know that another publication broke the news, you're off the hook, too, generally. But don't go taking my scoop away.