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Summary and Comments

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1997-12-04 09:42:12


Media Want Y2K Sound Bites



A Y2K programmer complains that the media are not interested in the Y2K story in any serious way. Until there's a crisis, the story will be relegated to special features and specialized publications.

* * * * * * * * *

I've spoken to several reporters for various magazines and other major newspapers. The journalistic rage of the day is to get info from a Y2K specialist, and then find a CEO or CIO of some company that will debunk whatever the specialist is saying. It's almost gotten to the point of debunking responses being personal attacks on the credibility of anyone associated with trying to spread the word on Y2K, and I've got business interests which require that I maintain as much credibility as possible.

In as much as you know a lot about the subject yourself, I'm sure you're aware that it's not possible to *concisely* explain Y2K and it's possible ramifications (at least not without coming across like a nut case). It's too technical for the average reporter to understand and accurately portray in a few short columns of ink. But it's very easy to find the CEO or CIO who will say "This guy is full of s***." That's a short, concise, 6 word sentence that blows any credibility related to the Y2K issue (and the specialist) right into the toilet.

I'd rather let the web page speak for itself. That way, at least the reporter who wants the info has to dig and understand the situation a little bit before moving on. I'm prepared to defend my views as expressed on the web page, but not necessarily prepared to defend something I might say to a reporter that's taken out of context and ultimately published as fool's gold gospel. Being an ex-politician, I've been there a few times. ;-)

Newspaper reporters, like their TV brethren, only want sound bites. Their editors don't want details. You can't explain this thing without details.

Which leads me to my two current fears regarding Y2K awareness and remediation:

1. The lawyers are involved, and legal paralysis is going to bring many programs to a standstill in the next few months,

2. The reporting slant is now such that a lot of Y2K specialists won't even talk to reporters, for fear of damaging themselves personally and professionally. So the word stays bottled up, and the majority of the public either thinks it's a load of B.S. or hears nothing at all.


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