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AT LARGE: Told you so

AT LARGE: Told you so

A few days after the US court of appeals announced its reversal of the lower court's order that Microsoft be broken up, I read a report on a media-monitoring Web site lambasting the Australian IT media for being "slow on the uptake" in appreciating the "newsworthiness" of the announcement. It seems that Australian IT media types had put various local high-profile stories ahead of the international Microsoft one, only reversing the priority later in the day.

What amazes me really is that reversal. I would love to understand why so few in the local IT media managed to appreciate the complete and utter un-newsworthiness (should that be "newsworthlessness"?) of the story. To wit: in order to be newsworthy, a story has to be (a) interesting, and (b) something you haven't heard before.

I could go into a lengthy complaint about how almost every aspect of the Microsoft trial has been as dull as dishwater after the celebrity witnesses of the first few weeks. But, frankly, if I talk about the trial itself for too long, you'll probably lose interest. So almost any story about the Microsoft antitrust suit fails the first criterion (except this one, I hope).

As for whether you've heard it before, I refer you to the June 21, 2000, issue of ARN - to an article headed "Friends like these". In this article you will find the statement: "There never will be a court-ordered breakup". Once again in ARN's October 11, 2000, issue, in an article called "Don't bother", you will read that "nothing's going to happen to Microsoft and the company can go about its business". Modesty forbids my identifying the byline.

Now, I submit to you that if something was printed in as auspicious a publication as this a full year ago, surely someone must have read it. By the criteria above then it is no longer newsworthy. One might put a little paragraph on page three or so, just saying "the court of appeals confirmed our report on 21/6/2000", but surely you wouldn't give it much more than that.

But no, it was all over the front pages as if no-one had insightfully predicted it ages ago, based on careful and informed analysis of the legal proceedings. For some people, hearing about these things after the fact is enough. Oh well. At least I can honestly say that you folks read it here first.

Matthew JC. Powell gets most of his prognostications from fortune cookies. Join him for lunch on mjcpowell@ozemail.com.au


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