Breaking Analysis: Bad Leads & Stolen Headlines: A Digital Death for Journalism

PRWeb, a press release service, has many news outlets printing retractions over a story they released yesterday about Google acquiring ICOA Wireless, a wi-fi provider company based out of Rhode Island. The Marketing company Vocus owns the PRWeb site. Vocus Director of Public Relations Frank Strong posted a statement to the company’s Web site, saying that it was a matter of identity theft. There’s also speculation that this was an attempt to drive up ICOA’s stock.

SiliconANGLE Founder John Furrier commented, “This is a classic example of the tsunami of garbage that’s flooding the internet.” He said that anyone can publish anything on PRWeb’s service, and that’s the big issue surrounding this story. Someone on a rogue basis submitted a press release saying there was an acquisition, and that rumor took off. Furrier also referenced the most recent Facebook hoax which claimed users could copyright their own content.

“Social media is an amazing environment for virality.” Although Furrier agrees that PRWeb is at fault here, he also pointed the finger at media companies who “lack the integrity and/or the technical business savvy to recognize that these stories have not been validated.” In addition to the wayward lack of effort in validating facts, Furrier also believes another bad habit is not giving credit where credit is due. He called out the Wall Street Journal for using his story on HP-Autonomy from last week without so much as a nod in his direction. Furrier voiced his concerns that the media business is in danger of extinction in the traditional sense, and journalism as we know it is dying.

Y Combinator, Silicon Valley’s oldest and most prestigious start-up incubator, announced a change to its funding structure yesterday. The big change will affect how its classes of startups receive investments, with Y Combinator taking control of the funding process, changing which VC’s make the investments, and cutting the amount of money given to start-ups in half.

Based on these changes, Furrier sees all kinds of red flags shooting up. The first issue, he said, is that reducing the amount of money indicates there’s not very much entrepreneurial activity going on and that it’s more of a community network. The second issue is that the SV angels backed out, and Furrier said although largely unreported, not many people inside Silicon Valley are supporting Y Combinator. He viewed Ron Conway’s lack of involvement in Y Combinator as a red flag that there’s a Silicon Valley feud going on. See the entire segment with Kristin Feledy and John Furrier on the Morning NewsDesk Show.