UPDATE - Glitches at Inside.com

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May 18, 2000

Inside.com is Glitch Central


Now we know why Inside. com planned a "soft" launch.

The new media Web site from Kurt Andersen and Michael Hirschorn at Powerful Media had just about as many glitches as a new site could have yesterday - on the day of the company's planned blowout soft-launch party.

For starters, the site crashed in the morning.

Then Powerful Media seemed to be doing what, in the world of breaking news, is the equivalent of tampering with the odometer: adding misleading datelines. To the casual observer, it looked like scoopsville - with some stories being filed before the events had even taken place.

An item reporting the firing of Real Simple Editor Susan Wyland had the dateline "Wednesday, May 17 at 2:36 a.m."

But the third paragraph of the story said her firing was not announced until a staff meeting at "10:15 Wednesday morning," which was indeed the case.

In another big "scoop," Inside said former Mirabella editor Roberta Myers would be named the editor of Elle yesterday. But by 8 p.m. last night, Hachette officials said there was no such announcement.

In yet another snafu, eager beavers logging on yesterday would have been impressed with the "scoop" that Simon & Schuster had landed the Jimmy Carter memoir. Inside posted the date and time as Tuesday, May 16 at 10:14 a.m. Eastern Standard Time.

But the auction for the book was still going on then. Agent Lynn Nesbit said, "It wrapped up around 6 p.m."

"I wonder if they got a.m. confused with p.m.?" asked Simon & Schuster spokesperson Adam Rothberg.

In a letter sent to potential subscribers over the last few weeks, Inside has been pitching itself as a purveyor of timely information. Investors have already bought into the idea of a minute-by-minute take on the media and entertainment worlds.

The letter targeted ultra-competitive people "whose job it is to know what's going on before anybody else."

The site went crashing to its knees in the morning, replacing news stories with pages of tech gobbledygook.

Officially, the site was still in "sneak preview" mode yesterday, despite going ahead with its launch party last night.

Hirschorn, Inside's editor-in-chief, told The Post that the time-stamp "glitch" had been fixed. He said the correct time for the filing of each item would appear by Thursday morning.

Tech experts agree it's a glitch that could have easily been fixed, or at least manually overridden - suggesting Inside was in no hurry to do so.

Other glitches included cut-off headlines and pop-up boxes that failed to pop.

"I noticed the time of the Jimmy Carter story and immediately assumed they had scooped the print press before I realized the datelines were wrong," said one disappointed subscriber.

"Many users in their 30-day free-trial period will be wondering if it's worth spending $200 a year on. They could be easily misled, and the editors don't seem to mind."



-- (Dee360Degree@aol.com), May 18, 2000

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