SDid you know Netscape cofounder Marc Andreessen has joined eBay's board? Why yes, it's true — and it happened last month. VentureBeat editor Eric Eldon had gotten a belated tip about the hire, and published the story without checking the date. "I made a stupid mistake," he tells me. (He was more oblique in Twitter.) Eldon rapidly took the story down, but not before it was syndicated to The Industry Standard, where it caught the eye of Nicholas Carlson, my former charge at Valleywag who has landed at Silicon Alley Insider.See the hypercompetitive pattern? Hacks have always hustled to scoop rival papers. But tech blogs are being driven to distraction by the notion that they've been beaten by a story. In the rush to publish, they're not even stopping to check their own archives. Checking actual facts is far more cumbersome. Jordan Golson, another former Valleywagger who now blogs at the Industry Standard, made a stink about a report on TheHill.com about iPhones coming to Congress. TheHill.com's overly sensational headline topped a report that merely stated that Congress's administrative arm was testing some iPhones. Golson called the flack quoted in TheHill.com's story, who backpedaled from his earlier statement that "lots" of Congressmen had requested iPhones. Tom Krazit of CNET News, one of the guilty parties cited by Golson for reblogging TheHill.com, got to the bottom of things: Congressional IT administrators were testing a total of 10 iPhones, and all of two Congressmen had asked about getting iPhones instead of the standard-issue BlackBerry. This messy process shows the blogosphere at its best and its worst. Through a series of iterations, the horde of bloggers arrived at the right result. In the meantime, however, a lot of people got the wrongheaded notion that Congress is switching to the iPhone any day now. (I'd note that TheHill.com has yet to retract its initial report; it would not be the first time a flack has said something, regretted it, and then claimed he was misquoted.) There will always be a factchecking squad on the Internet. But I think the reblogging craze will fade over time, as the Web's writers learn the deep satisfaction of telling one's own story for the first time — not repeating someone else's for the nth.
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