How Stupid News Spreads
Tuesday, Jun. 19, 2012 at 7:30am
My friend Ted works at a flute reamer company. Okay, it's not a flute reamer company, it's another kind of company entirely. But what they do it nugatory. What's important is that they like what they do and so does their corporate headquarters in Toledo, which is not in Toledo, but that doesn't matter either.
So one day last week some moron with a blog writes that it would be really great if this corporation sold its flute reamer division. Then he does what bloggers do and reels out the concept with a couple of numbers in it, and speculates for a while, and pretends to know people who think the same thing he does, and even invents a couple of sources that he doesn't name but implies are out there somewhere. And then he pushes "publish," which is all it takes to publish a blog, as you know, and up goes his extrusions and pretty soon he's aggregated all over the place, because that's what aggregators do.
A few days go by and then here we go, another blogger wakes up with an empty brain and notices the three-day-old blog from the original bloviator. Now, this second guy happens to be in the flute reamer business and there's no news in that business today, so he finds the collection of gas and sputum coming from Guy #1 to be most interesting indeed, because in writing about it he will appear to be assiduous in following news about his business. So he spins off a couple hundred words with one of those weasley headlines that end with a question mark. "BigCo to sell Flute Reamer Group?" That kind of thing.
The only problem is that everybody in the flute reamer business readers Guy #2, because it's a small business that nobody really cares about except people who make flute reamers. So now everybody in the flute reamer business is talking about the pending divestiture of Ted's nice little division, which is in fact not for sale, but could be, you know?
"It's only a matter of time before Bloomberg calls," he says glumly. "And after that, can the bankers be far behind?"