iPhone to Verizon -- or, how rumors get started

How strongly can this brief news article from ITExaminer.com, entitled "Apple to allow Verizon connections," assert things? Let's take a look, with added boldface!

Apple is certain to allow Verizon to join its elite band of Iphone providers, bringing to an end the exclusive and somewhat stupid exclusivity deal in its biggest market. Deep throats in Apple claim that Iphones for Verizon Wireless will be announced soon.

They sound ... pretty sure, don't they? The only source that the article provides is to a post on the 9to5Mac blog, but that talk of deep throats implies that perhaps ITExaminer.com has its own sources.

Now, it turns out that CNet blogger Matt Hickey also picked up the 9to5mac story. But if you go to Hickey's blog post, you find the following at the top of the page:

Correction 11:56 a.m. PST: We messed up. The 9 to 5 Mac blog we cited below is in fact from September 2008, so it turns out this is an old rumor. Because it showed up in our RSS feed Saturday, we, like a number of other publications, took it as a recent post and went from there. Apologies for the confusion.

Yes, all this hue and cry over a rumor that emerged more than four months ago! And therein lies a cautionary tale, about which Hickey's correction is particularly revealing. How many tech journalists and bloggers (the line between which grows more blurry with time) simply have stacks of feeds in their RSS readers, and will jump at anything that looks interesting that pops up therein, especially if it dovetails with their pre-existing notions? How much of tech reporting is just one little new nugget fit into an existing narrative? In that kind of environment, a little tech glitch like this can put a lot of egg on your face.

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