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Wednesday 12 February 2003

Smoking Crack At The Washington Post

Just when you thought that the world couldn’t become more surreal, or the Washington Post’s bewildering and Quixotic attacks on America Online become more, well, bewildering and Quixotic, you find this:

Just a short drive from America Online Inc. headquarters in Northern Virginia, a fast-growing competitor named Road Runner is blitzing ahead in the lucrative business of providing high-speed Internet access to computer users.

While America Online recently recorded its first ever drop in subscribers, Herndon-based Road Runner LLC posted a double-digit percentage increase. Road Runner says it provides one-stop shopping for computer users who want maximum speed, compelling content and “always on” Internet access, making the service sound like a souped-up version of AOL.

“Road Runner is easy to get, easy to use,” and offers “lightning fast connections” and “unique content,” its ads say. At $44.95 a month, the service is sometimes promoted by sales associates as a better value than America Online.

The next paragraph acknowledges the teensy, possibly-relevant fact Road Runner is, in fact, a division of AOL Time Warner. But that still doesn’t excuse cribbing the first three paragraphs of your article from a company’s marketing materials, especially not if you like to think of yourself as a credible reporter, and a credible newspaper.

The rest of the article mainly, and competently, covers the turf wars that are the core competency of AOL Time Warner. The best part:

There is virtually no evidence of cooperation with America Online on Road Runner’s Web site. The site, for instance, offers to help people find a high-speed provider if they simply type in an address. Typing in America Online’s own corporate address yields a referral not to AOL Broadband but to another rival cable firm, Adelphia Communications Corp.

Posted by tino at 18:27 12.02.03
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