Verizon Talks Out of Both Sides of It's Mouth; The Star Lends a Willing Ear.

This has to be the worst writing I've seen from a tech journalist in some time.  I'm talking about the article authored by Erika Smith from IndyStar.com and published on July 4, 2010.  Here's my beef.

  1. Lack of fact checking: Ms. Smith mentions that Android was a character from Star Trek: The Next Generation.  This is in fact a HUGE error and quite frankly, insulting the intelligence to the very demographic that her article appears to cater to - geeks.  Android (aka Droid) is a trademark by LucasFilms (a la George Lucas) and has nothing to do with the Star Trek franchise.  Data, the android-race being, is who she's trying to refer to (and fell short).  So much for fact checking, Ms. Smith.  And your bio claims you have a Bachelor's degree in Journalism?  Glad I didn't go to college then.

  2. Lack of due diligence: Ms. Smith consistently compares the DROID X, which is going to be featured on Verizon's CDMA network to Apple's iPhone (AT&T, GSM)) and the HTC EVO (Sprint, CDMA).  What she fails to mention is anything reliable about the phone itself, other than it's price point and that you can customize it with applications downloaded from the Android Marketplace.  This information is not earth-shattering enough to base an article solely on this information.  Yet, that's what Ms. Smith has done.  Her article is merely fluff - geared towards the exact market for which this phone was designed.  If Erika Smith wanted to report actual news about the DROID X, she could have reported something similar to what IndyGeek ran with on June 30th: Verizon Allows Exchange of Backorders for DROID X.  Which brings me to my next point...

  3. Advertisement masquerading as journalism: It's nothing more than advertising for Verizon, as indicated by a tweet sent by Michelle Gilbert, Regional Manager of Marketing for Verizon Wireless in Indiana, Kentucky and Michigan:

Sorry, Michelle, but if this is what you call a review, then a refresher course on basic journalism might suit you well.  This was nothing more than a backhanded attempt to advertise the DROID X - a phone that is exclusive to your network.  Let's call a spade a spade, shall we?

Another reply on Twitter just shows that Verizon is only interested in giving the phone to those who demonstrate a predisposition for a good review:

This is not journalism.  This is catering to writers who will fluff up your numbers so you (or your company) look good.  It's disgusting and quite frankly, insulting to both the readers of this garbage and your customer base (two groups which may or may not overlap).

Bottom Line

If Verizon was really interested in getting this phone into the hands of people who have the ability to report technology news responsibility, it would have granted a review to another publication, maybe one that doesn't have the readership of the Star, but one that exercises more integrity in reporting the facts.  Shame on Verizon for thinking we're all stupid and shame on The Indianapolis Star for committing a journalistic sin, aiding and abetting a company into thinking we're all stupid.  My advice to Ms. Smith: treat your readers' intelligence with some respect and leave the technology news reporting to those of us that know how to do it properly.