DateWednesday 23 February 2005

The potato PC scam

It’s been too long since I had a good scam here. The Register has the excellent Potato PC scam – basically a variation on the White Speaker Van Scam, but neatly updated.

‘Everyone’s very busy': or why the Press Association doesn’t want tech stories

The latest edition of the emailed Fullrunner makes fascinating reading pretty much all the way through, notably for IDG’s assertion that on present trends it will earn more from online advertising than print.

But far more enjoyable is what happened when Peter Kirwan of Fullrunner (a former editor of Computing, so he knows what it’s like) rang the Press Association with a modest proposal.

The Fullrunner recently called up the Press Association newsdesk to ask if they’d like to send along a representative to Talking Shop. En passant, we explained one of the benefits of speaking at this event: namely, the subsequent increase in the number of suitably-crafted story pitches received from PRs.

nswered our call shall remain nameless for reasons which will become clear in a moment. He said (and I’m typing from written notes): “Sorry, mate, but we’re a bit cynical round here. We get so much rubbish from the f******. If you can get PRs to start sending decent pitches, I’ll show my arse in Burton’s window.”

We’re unlikely to witness this presumably magnificent spectacle. Pressed further, the hack in question told us that “everyone” was “very busy” and had “no time for going around speaking to people”.

I’ve done one of the Talking Shops, which I thought was well worthwhile. OK, so only a few of the pitches I received afterward were better, but any number is a start, right? And I met some people who had interesting stories to pitch; their problem had just been that they didn’t know who or how to tell them.

The next one will be David Smith, the Observer’s technology correspondent (who I’ve not met) some time in March. Sunday papers are probably the best place to be seen with tech stories… as long as they’re the right ones.

A side note: I don’t think PA has anyone who handles technology stories, as such. John von Radovitz does science and a fair chunk of medical science, but tech – I know – leaves him cold. For the sake of his sanity and your own, probably safer not to call. Which does leave the big question of whether PA needs that, and if so, what would they cover precisely?