Erick Schonfeld's TechCrunch blog post today tries to cover the new $199 Linux PC being sold at Wal-Mart:
Our Crunchgear colleague John Biggs has an item in the NYT today about Wal-Mart's $200 Google PC that runs a version of Linux called the Google Operating System.There are two important facts wrong in this first sentence. It's not a "Google PC", it's the gPC. And it doesn't run the "Google Operating System", it runs gOS, a project of Dave Liu. In fact, as near as anyone knows Google has no involvement with the development or marketing of this PC. TechCrunch reporting otherwise is a significant error.
Journalists make mistakes too; why's TechCrunch blog post not journalism? First, the story TechCrunch posted is really just a quote from someone else's story with a bit of unsupported speculation tacked on. Fine for a blog post, not good journalism. Second, despite lacking any original reporting it still gets fundamental facts wrong. Real journalism involves editors who should catch something so embarassing before going to press. Either this post wasn't edited before publication or else the editor didn't think it'd be important to verify something as significant as an entry by Google into the consumer PC market.
On the good side, the blog post comments are great. The third comment gets the story right and there are links further down to good coverage on Wired and ZDNet. User comments are something blogs do better than journalists.
I feel bad picking on TechCrunch for the second time in a week. The issues I'm pointing out aren't just them, it's a lot of blogs. TechCrunch is just a highly relevant target given their influence. People increasingly think of TechCrunch as being like news reporting. It's not. It's an excellent blog.
Some blogger want to do actual journalism? Go research who's collecting the ad referral revenue from ad clicks via gOS' browser. I don't know, but I'm betting it's not Mozilla.
A disclaimer of sorts: I haven't worked at Google for over 18 months. I have absolutely zero inside knowledge about gOS, Everex's products, or any Google plans for creating hardware or operating systems. I'm just reading TechCrunch.