Smithersgate

businessweek martin smithers.jpg
It was a good story. A commenter calling himself “Martin Smithers” at Business Week was full of wild approbation for the magazine, and there were allegations that the commenter might be the magazine’s executive editor. This kind of hidden-hand masturbatory self-praise is a journalistic no-no on the internet. It’s considered so bad that there’s even a word for it: “sock-puppetry.”
Then the story got better. After Gawker published what it said was an internal memo about the comments, it followed up with a story about an investigation by Business Week execs into who leaked the memo.

We hear that a “forensic audit” of emails has been ordered to figure out whence the leak sprung, and all IMs will now be surveilled. An even stranger rumor has boss Kathy Rebello hiring some sort of prose expert to compare the writing of employees versus that of the leaker, thus snaring the perpetrator in some kind of Da Vinci Code literary trap.

Our first reaction was, “Why the fuck is Gawker infringing on our territory? Do Gawker readers even know what Business Week is?” And second, “Why didn’t anyone leak this memo to us first? Or the news about the investigation?”
Well, now we may have an answer to that last question. We’re hearing that the forensic audit and/or hiring of the prose expert may not have yet gone through the trouble of actually occurring. Which is a damn shame. Because it was shaping up to be a great story.
[Note: When we say things like “we’re hearing” what we mean—at least in this case—is that some credible source with knowledge of the subject has told us this with the sound of confidence in his or her voice. But, you know, we can't confirm it. And it’s always possible that somehow those kids at Gawker actually have better sources inside Business Week than we do. But if they do have a better source, then we’re totally going to go on a two-day whiskey binge to try to forget all about it.]