At the request of Technology Review, Inc., Susan Rasky agreed to oversee the fact checking of 10 articles by Michelle Delio that TR published online between December 16, 2004, and March 7, 2005. After conducting their own review, the editors at Technology Review had concerns regarding some of the sources and quotations in these articles.
Click here to see the report findings. What follows below is a point-by-point synopsis of eight stories – three which were fully verified and five that were not. There were two other stories that contained quantifiable errors. Click here to read Appendix B: The Future Shock and here to read Appendix C: The Invisible Fighter. Click here to read Appendix D: Delio’s responses to the report.
REPORT: Augmented Reality
Researched by Josef Sawyer
I had a phone conversation with Blair MacIntyre on 4/7/05, and he checked out as having been interviewed by reporter Michelle Delio. He said all his quotes and attributions were correct. He passed on Henrik Hedegaard’s information to Michelle Delio.
I had a phone conversation with Steven Feiner on 4/12/05, and he checked out as having been interviewed by reporter Michelle Delio. He said all his quotes and attributions were correct.
I did not make direct contact with Henrik Hedegaard, despite several attempts to reach him by phone. We did, however, exchange email correspondence. I sent him an email on 4/8/05 asking him to provide contact information and a time to call and speak with him. In an email response on 4/805 Hedegaard wrote:
I’m well aware of the article and I have a copy of the article myself.
All the facts are correct - I was quoted in relation to an exam project, ARDressCode, at the University of Aarhus in Denmark.
Quotations are based on information I personally submitted to Blair
MacIntyre, who the handed the information to Michelle (the writer).
Currently we have a scientific paper, regarding the project, in for review. If you want, I can send you a copy of the article.
For further information about the ARDressCode project, please refer to:
PS: I live in Denmark and my cell phone subscription doesn’t allow for cross country calls. Thus I cannot call you - sorry…
I sent a second email to Hedegaard on 4/8/05 asking for a number and time to contact him but no response came back. A phone call to the number (45) 8942-6123, which was provided by Technology Review Editor Brad King was made on 4/12/05 and there was no response or answering machine to leave a message. I sent Hedegaard a third email on 4/13/05 asking for contact info and a time to call.
From: “Club Dish” (CONTACT INFORMATION REMOVED)
To: “ ‘Josef Sawyer’ ” (CONTACT INFORMATION REMOVED)
Subject: SV: fact checker question
Date: Thu, 14 Apr 2005 12:29:11 +0200
I wanted to wait until tomorrow, since by then we’ll have an answer to whether or not the article is accepted for publishing.
Thus, you’re not allowed to quote, publish nor distribute the attached pdf file in any way or form. Further, if it is accepted for publishing, it’s only a draft for the final version, and the quotes cannot be official. It can only be used as reference until the final version is ready…
In regards to the phone-call, my problem is that my subscription ddoes not allow for inbound nor outbound cross-border phone calls. Sorry.
Naturally you can mail me any question regarding the project.
REPORT: The Snow Man
Researched by Jonathan Jones
Matthew Sturm, a physical scientist with US Army Corps of Engineers’ Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory, verified on Thursday April 7 that he had spoken with Michelle Delio in late January after publishing his findings on the effects of cold weather.
After reviewing the article line by line, Sturm verified that the information included in the article is an accurate representation of his findings. He also did not dispute the quotes attributed to him.
John Cannon, a meteorologist for the National Weather Service, said he could not recall specifically speaking with Delio. But Cannon, who often speaks with the press, said it was possible he had spoken with Delio and did not recall it.
When read the statements, he did not dispute the comments or ask that the statements attributed to him be retracted. We believe the content in “The Snow Man,” article is based on real interviews and is accurate.
REPORT: Encrypt This
Researched by Carrie Lozano
Laird Brown: I spoke with Elissa Goodman, she’s the US press contact, on 4/4/05. She asked me to email her the quotes, which she passed on to Brown in Germany. He said they were correct.
Jim Schulyer: (PHONE NUMBER REMOVED) I spoke with Jim Schuyler on 4/4/05. He was a beta tester and is quoted twice. Michelle Delio did an email interview with him, which he still had, and he said his quotes were accurate.
Russ Housley: In the article, Housley is identified as “security area director for the Internet Engineering Task Force”. The article doesn’t disclose that he performed a study of the software as a paid consultant for Ciphire. Via email, he said his quotes were accurate, though he could not recall if Michelle Delio had interviewed him. At his request I have sent him Ms. Delio’s e-mail address so that he can check his records. I am waiting to hear from him again.
REPORT: Carly’s Way
Researched by Kim Perry
I reached Dave Berman, media relations manager for HP Labs on April 13. (CONTACT INFORMATION REMOVED). Berman said the article was suspicious because it was so detailed.
“G.S. was 28 years in the business. He worked on ink jet technology. Someone would know him. We looked around and it didn’t sound like anyone we knew.”
Berman said there were inconsistencies in G.S.’s area of skill. He said usually experts on ink jet technology don’t work outside that field. Berman also said Carly Fiorina was an HP labs advocate.
HP attempted to track down G.S. by searching lists it keeps of employees who leave the company. Berman said HP searched for a G.S. who left in 2003. The search turned up one person with the initials G.S., an Indian woman. He said the search didn’t even come close to fitting Michelle Delio’s description of G.S.
Technology Review gave HP the first name of Greg. But Berman said no one fit the description. Berman said G.S. could have left the company and returned as a contractor, but it’s unlikely.
On April 12, I also exchanged e-mails with Ryan J. Donovan, Director of Corporate Media Relations for HP and sent him questions. (CONTACT INFORMATION REMOVED)
]REPORT: Carly’s Gone HP Celebrates
Researched by Josef Sawyer and Kim Perry
There were three unnamed sources in the story who could not be verified because no contact information was available.
David Berman, the Hewlett-Packard public relations manger, was unaware of this story and is checking company records for a Keith Abrams, an engineer, who is quoted in the story as having left HP three years ago. (Update: On Monday, May 16, 2005, Rasky informed Technology Review that HP could not locate any record of the one named source, Keith Abrams, who appeared in the story.)
REPORT: Rage Against the Machines
Researched by Krista Mahr
Between the dates of April 1 and April 7, 2005, I attempted to make contact with the three sources listed in the article.
Kent Norman of University of Maryland, was contacted by phone and verified that he had been in contact with Michelle Delio by phone and by email. Norman verified the truthfulness of his direct quotes, indirect quotes, excerpts from the online data survey that he runs, and background information throughout the article.
Jim Reinert of Ontrack Data Recovery, was contacted by phone and did not recall specifically having spoken to Michelle Delio as he speaks with the press regularly. He did verify the truthfulness of the information about his company as mentioned in the article, and provided the Journalism School with the company press release from which he believed the information in the article and his indirect quotes came.
I was unable to locate a source decscribed as Manhattan graphic designer Jim Heedles. A person of the same name who appears frequently on the internet was contacted by email and confirmed he was not the source listed. Searches were made on Jim Heedles in Google, Zoom Info (a web-based search engine), and the general news indexes of Lexis Nexis.
Not Verified (Con’t)
REPORT: Race for the Ultimate Car Hacks
Researched by Krista Mahr
Between the dates of April 4 and April 7, 2005, I attempted to make contact with the five sources listed in the article.
The source that writer Michelle Delio named as “Hobbit” was contacted at an email address provided by Delio. “Hobbit” responded but did not wish to participate in the investigation, and was not responsive to another attempt at contact.
Two sources mentioned in the article, Damien Stolarz and Raffi Krikorian, were both contacted by phone and both verified that they had been in contact with Delio by either phone or email. Both Stolarz and Krikorian also verified the truthfulness of their direct and indirect quotes throughout the article.
Two other sources cited in the article, Staten Island mechanic Steve Ferrello and attorney Mark Simnon, were not able to be located. Contact information for the sources was not provided by Delio, and searches to attempt to locate either individual did not prove fruitful. Searches were made on Steve Ferrello in Google, Zoom Info (a web-based search engine), and the general news indexes of Lexis Nexis. Searches were made on attorney Mark Simnon in Google, Zoom Info, martindale.com (an online database of lawyers), and general news and legal news searches of Lexis Nexis.
REPORT: Patently Open Source
Researched by Carrie Lozano
Bruce Sunstein: We spoke on the phone on 4/4/05. He said that his quotes were accurate and spoke highly of Michelle Delio. The article is posted on his web site.
Dr. Wise Young: Confirmed via email that his quotes were accurate and that he and Michelle Delio spoke when she reported the story.
Dr. John E. Kelly: I have contacted an IBM publicist via phone and email and haven’t received a response about John E. Kelly’s statement. However, a reading of the press release about IBM’s patents pretty clearly indicates that his statement was composed (not quoted) from the release (the phrases are verbatim).
Adam Shapiro: A Yahoo search, Google search, yellow pages search, zoominfo. search, people finder search, New York attorney directory, LEXIS search turned up two NY attorneys named Adam Shapiro. I have also emailed a person of this name at the email address provided by Technology Review – an obscure email service based in Melbourne Australia that offers both free and paid subscription addresses. He hasn’t responded. I made it clear I wanted a phone conversation and that I wanted the name of his firm.
Bruce Sunstein does not know who Adam Shapiro is.
Adam L. Shapiro & Associates, P.C. (he’s an injury lawyer): (CONTACT INFORMATION REMOVED). I tried to call him, but there was no answer and no voice mail.
Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz: Adam J. Shapiro (CONTACT INFORMATION REMOVED). April 11, 2005: I spoke with this Adam Shapiro. He was not the source – says he knows nothing about patents or pharmaceutical industry.
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