Still on deathwatch, Red Herring, the once-storied tech publication, is displaying its straitened circumstances even in its copy. The few articles on its website that aren't Reuters wire stories seem to be written by a skeleton crew, with equally skeletal thought behind them. Take, for example, Cassimir Medford's puff piece on Ooma, the also-doomed VOIP startup. Medford, ostensibly Red Herring's "telecom and wireless reporter," includes this doozy:
The name Ooma was chosen because it invokes curiosity, Mr. Frame said. Also it has four letters and the IP address was readily available.
Here's what's wrong with that — and what it shows is wrong with the Herring.
A domain name, of course, is the user-friendly address you type into a Web browser, like "redherring.com." An IP address, on the other hand, is a series of numbers like "188.8.131.52," assigned to a machine connected to the Internet, used by other machines to look it up. A telecom reporter who doesn't know the difference between an IP address and a domain name, writing about a startup which fundamentally misunderstands its market. They sound well-matched.
I don't mean to pick on Medford, of course. The error isn't a reflection on him as much as it is on his bosses. At a stable, well-funded publication, I'm sure he'd do well as a junior reporter learning the beat under the tutelage of experienced editors. And he'd be getting a steady paycheck, to boot. At the Herring, of course, he's managed, if at all, by Joel Dreyfuss, an editor-in-chief who's distracted by efforts to save the company from owner Alex Vieux's financial mismanagement. With sloppily reported, poorly edited stories like this, though, I'd ask which will die first: The Red Herring brand, or the company which owns it?