Missing the Mark on Facebook & Apple

Let’s just say it: I got this one wrong.

Last month, I reported that Facebook was coming to the iPad on October 4, specifically at Apple iPhone 5 event. This was based on reliable sources who have given me correct intel for previous stories in the past. We were confident enough that we ran with it.

Of course, there was not a single mention of Facebook at yesterday’s event. We knew this could happen, for a variety of reasons. Perhaps Apple yanked Facebook from the event at the last minute (this is what TechCrunch is reporting). Perhaps our reporting was totally off-base (that’s what AllThingsD suggests).

We are talking to our own sources and may have a follow-up soon. I won’t speak about who may be in the right here until then.

In the end though, it doesn’t matter — the fact is that I got it wrong. And I believe in owning up to your mistakes. Exclusives and scoops are a tricky business. Sometimes you nail it and sometimes you miss the mark.

I’m sorry if I misled you. This is a mistake I will learn from. I will become better at what I do because of it.

  • http://www.socialtimes.com Nick O’Neill

    Hey Ben,

    Getting the story wrong isn’t really a huge deal.  Getting a story at all is really where the hard work comes in.  Even AllThingsD and others get a story wrong once in a while.  They also get all the traffic for their stories whether or not they are correct ;)  

    Techcrunch, and in particular, Mike Arrington, has gotten so many stories wrong it’s hard to count.  But he always got traffic and peoples’ recognition that he was a good source of information, right or wrong, was what led to more stores.


  • http://www.fifthstreet.biz ShadowBJ21

    So the most important question will be now: WHEN will the Facebook iPad App be available? Any rumors?

  • Dale Poole

    Really?  Is someone actually holding your feet to the fire because you can’t predict the future with 100% accuracy?

    Can’t see how this alters your credibility in any way.  You might want to withhold a free latte from your source today, because of it, but otherwise, put your socks back on and tell the foot roaster to go pound a keg of sand.

  • http://www.danpatterson.com/ Dan Patterson

    Ben – serious question – I’m honestly not trying to be a jerk:

    Why are anonymous sources so relied upon by the tech media? Were I to come back from the UN with an anonymous source on a story I’d be laughed at and probably – eventually – laid off.  Now of course, background, deep background, and off the record sources are relied upon in political journalism, but typically only to add color and nuance or to help the journalist look in the ‘right’ places. For the sake of my own credibility, I won’t run a thing sans two or three on the record sources.

    Yet this practice seems endemic in tech journalism. The cynic would say that it’s all about the pageviews, long-term trust and credibility be damned.  The cynic, in this case, might not be wrong. You, however, are someone I know and trust (online at least) so my question is sincere. And really, I’m not at all trying to be a dick. I’m just curious as to why we see so much anonymous sourcing which, invariably, leads to – at best – poor reporting and at worst is tantamount to gossip-mongering for pageviews.

    • Nicholas Carlson

      We rely on anonymous sources because we’re reporting on stuff that
      people are unauthorized to talk about. If we used their names, they
      would be fired.

      • http://www.danpatterson.com/ Dan Patterson

        How is that different from any other news vertical? All industry relies on private information – tech is not alone in this need.

  • http://twitter.com/Apoach11 Aaron Poach

    Ben – I definitely appreciate your candidness here. Fact is, this kind of thing comes with the territory. The good news is, in my opinion, is that you’re still a very credible source. Not that my opinion matters much, (if at all) but in the short time I’ve been following you, your articles and the info you’ve provided have helped me look like an “insider” among friends and coworkers when discussing tech and social media topics. This post only adds to my assurance: when Ben Parr comes out with something, it’s likely to be very accurate!

    Keep up the good work, Ben!


  • Gregory Pouy

    I think mistake is part of the job and people who are reading you know it very well too.

    Nobody can predict the future so precisely that he can be 100% right all
    the time (if you know the guy just let me know by the way :p)

  • Everyone Makes Mistakes

    Ben, I get the impression you take what you do very seriously but the mistake is easily understandable.  Your commitment to make it right says even more about you than the mistake.  Don’t sweat it.  Look how many people thought the iPhone 5 was coming out?

  • Anonymous

    I have been in and around journalism for 35 years and NOBODY ever gets it all right. I look at over all performance over a length of time and I’d say you are batting in the high 800s.  Far better than most.

  • http://about.me/jameshicks James Hicks

    Nobody gets it right every time Ben. We learn from these situations and push forward. You’re still a valuable “in-the-know” resource

  • Cnoelk

    Please forward this article to the CEO of Netflix as a lesson on how to apologize. And BTW – it’s all good, Ben.

  • LauraMeadeKirk

    Not a big deal, Ben… As long as you were putting forth information from credible sources based on what you both/all believed to be accurate at the time, no one can fault you if that information later proved to be wrong. The problems come when a reporter is so determined to put him/herself ahead of the news by “breaking” stories/info that just aren’t there — or by breaking the law to get a story. In my nearly 30 years of journalism, I saw it all — and some of it was just plain awful! Keep digging and keep us informed…

  • Steve Mays

    I don’t have to tell you that the ones you get wrong stay with us a lot longer than the ones you get right. 

  • Jen

    nice to hear, super refreshing, and in stark contrast from other tech blogs where ego seems to have falsely distorted reality. thanks for this

  • http://scobleizer.com Scobleizer

    You’re not the only one: https://plus.google.com/111091089527727420853/posts/8mxuvFzZa1F I was misled by my sources too. But I know there’s still a bunch of Apple stuff from Facebook coming. This story is not over yet. I believe all we screwed up was the timing, not the announcement. Well, and we don’t know if Apple is involved or not. This stuff is tough to figure out if you are reading the tea leaves from outside. 

  • Nick Ring

    The fact that you wrote this shows what a great tech reporter you are…  Awesome job – and keep up the great work.

  • http://twitter.com/a1by Alberto Plantilla

    I know things can change up until the very last minute, so it’s very possible you were right until you were wrong.  You should take pride that you admitted when you got it wrong, and that it made you examine your practices to see what you could do better.

    +1 for personal responsibility

  • http://www.adrianmcmillan.com/blog Adrian McMillan

    Totally agree as far as owning up to mistakes, but if someone’s nagging you because Facebook was not discussed in Apple’s press event that’s considered a first world problem, and we know what to do with first world problems.

  • Mary Hunt

    You are being WAY to hard on yourself.  All we cared about was NOT getting the iPhone 5.  I’m still annoyed with Apple about it.

  • Meredith Hawkins

    Journalists are expected to put out information so fast these days. It’d be impossible to always get it 100% right. It’s admirable for you own up to your mistakes, even if this mistake wasn’t necessarily your fault. By taking credit for all your work, you’re already better at what you do. Thanks for always keeping your publics informed on these matters. Chin up!