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sarge and the Wall Street Journal



This message goes out about 14:00 GMT.  By 15:00 GMT
or so it begins partly to lose relevance, so please
reply soon if you can think of anything to say.

The topic is news media relations.  The Wall Street
Journal has tried fairly hard since about 1998 to keep
up with Linux developments.  However, the WSJ has no
clue about Debian.  They don't get it.  Searching the
WSJ's article database back to 1996 (subscribers like me
have access to this feature on-line), one finds 607
references to "Red Hat" against precisely five for
"Debian", the most recent of which is a year old.

Now, this is okay, I guess.  We thrive without broad
publicity.  Probably it is better this way.  However,
yesterday morning I poked the WSJ tech editor about
sarge.  Steve Langasek even made himself available to
answer questions if needed.  I do not know whether the
WSJ ever contacted Steve, but what they printed in this
morning's paper in breaking Linux news is, well, I don't
know the word for it.  Frustrating?  Humorous?
Poignant?  Ironic?  You'll have to read it yourself.
On page B4 of today's U.S. print edition:

  START-UP HIRES OPEN-SOURCE ALLY
  By Robert A. Guth

  SourceLabs Inc., a start-up funded and run by
  former employees of Microsoft Corp., has recruited
  one of the best-known proponents of open-source
  software.

  SourceLabs, Seattle, Wash., said that is is hiring
  programmer Bruce Perens as its vice president of
  developer relations and policy.

  Open-source programs, such as the Linux operating
  system, allow users to modify underlying
  instructions called source code.  Mr. Perens has
  helped promote the use of such products and set
  standards for licensing them; he is a co-founder of
  the Open Source Initiative, a nonprofit that helps
  set licensing rules.

  He was a programmer at Pixar Animation Studios Inc.
  and worked for two years at Hewlett-Packard Co. as a
  Linux and open-source strategist.  He was recently
  working as an industry consultant.

  [...]

So on the day sarge releases, the big news in the
free-software world is, "Bruce Perens gets a job?"
(Notice the lack of any mention of the keystone item
on Bruce's resume: DPL.  But this is a mere quibble,
compared to the overall lack of newsworthiness
judgment here.)

We love and appreciate Bruce and wish him all the best.
Naturally this is not any criticism of him.  I wish that
the WSJ thought me important enough to report when I got
a job.  However, something is badly out of kilter here.

I have obtained the reporter Guth's work phone number
and do mean to phone him when he reaches his desk this
morning.  He's on U.S. Pacific Time (GMT minus 0700).
Have you any suggestion as to what I should say?

I lack past experience in media relations.  I don't
really know what to say.  I don't think that, "Get a
clue, dude" would help.  Suggestions?

-- 
Thaddeus H. Black
508 Nellie's Cave Road
Blacksburg, Virginia 24060, USA
+1 540 961 0920, t@b-tk.org, thb@debian.org

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