- 11 Jan 07, 02:43 AM
CES is notorious as an event where this year's story is the same as last year's just with better resolution, higher definition and more connectivity.
So when I interviewed a senior member of the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project who told me the group wanted to sell the machine to the general public, "hopefully next year", then I thought I had a real story on my hands.
The story was published on Wednesday with the headline "Public can buy $100 laptop".
If you look at the story now, however, it has a very different headline.
It now reads "$100 laptop could sell to public".
So why the change?
Several hours after it was published I received an e-mail from a PR executive at OLPC who told me that there was definitely no plan to sell the laptop.
One frantic call later and it was clear that the "plan" to sell the laptop was no more than a desire, perhaps even just a consideration. I was told that the executive had mis-spoke.
So what to do? My story was written in good faith based on accurate quotes - thankfully I had recorded the interview.
I sent a portion of the audio to the PR to prove I had not acted dishonourably and I made a few changes to the story.
I changed the "plan" to a "possibility" and added a quote from the project's founder Nicholas Negroponte who said a commercial approach had been "considered".
If my story had been a TV or radio piece, then there would have been little I could change.
But it was clear that good faith had been present on both side.
The executive had used the wrong words to communicate the project's actions, giving me the sense it was a plan and more than a possibility.
Of course the outcome could have been different, if the context of the interview had been different.
If it had been Tony Blair teling me he planned to step down next week, only for a PR later to tell me he had mis-spoke, then would we have changed story?
It's all about good faith.
One Laptop Per Child is aiming to change the world for the better. That's the story, not whether the right modal verb - could, would or will - was used.