In a rather annoying trend, discrepancy seems sometimes to be widening into direct contradiction in the news. In our recent gubernatorial recall election, one side was trumpeting that Wisconsin had added 30,000 jobs, and the other side was advertising that Wisconsin had lost 30,000 jobs. Which was it? The "traditional" media, which is growing increasingly scarce here and increasingly biased, were not much help.
So here's the news: either Panasonic will be investing 30 to 50 billion yen in Olympus, or it won't be!
Isn't that exciting?
Of course, I don't know. I haven't done any original reporting, personally. I'm just a guy sitting in a little house in Wisconsin. I don't speak Japanese, and I don't have the phone numbers of the CEOs of Olympus or Panasonic in my "Rolodex" (I assume "Rolodex" is now a vestigial term, like "dialing" a phone). As we usually do with such industry news, I reported a report, namely, I parrotted what the Japan Times said. Imaging-Resource repeated a different report, from the subscription-only Kyodo News Agency. Well, I think it's a different report, unless the the Japan Times got the report from Kyodo News Agency too, which might be what the word "Kyodo" in small type under the title of the article indicates. So who's echoing whom? Who got the news, and from where, and who (else) is just repeating something they heard?
Olympus immediately issued a very vaguely-worded denial, which might or might not be referring to the reports about Panasonic. But then, they're doing that a lot these days. If someone issued a report that clear skies above Tokyo appear blue, Olympus would issue a statement that said "Certain sections of the media have reported today that the skies over Olympus Corporation (the 'Company') are blue. This is not announced by the Company. The Company will immediately disclose any further important information when it comes to light."*
Reuters, which seconded the "yes" side on Tuesday, yesterday contradicted the report, saying the President of Panasonic was overheard by a waiter at dinner saying nope, 'tain't true (except in Japanese). Okay, not at dinner, and it wasn't a waiter:
"I don't know where that information came from, not from us," [Panasonic President Fumio] Ohtsubo said on the sidelines of a meeting of the Japan Electrical Manufacturers' Association. "There isn't any," he said when asked if Panasonic had a plan to invest in Olympus.
So there you have it. Might be news, might not be; might be true, might not be; might be announced later this week, when Olympus issues an expected report; might prove to have been a rumor. The world continues to need more reporters and fewer echo boxes, and I'm not chuffed that I'm part of the problem. At least when I want to know what color the clear sky is, I can look out the window and give my own report. (Blue.)
*Note that that last sentence actually means, "The Company will not disclose any further important information when it comes to light." I'm just sayin'.
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Original contents copyright 2012 by Michael C. Johnston and/or the bylined author. All Rights Reserved.
Featured Comment by Francis Harrison: "I'm in Tokyo and yes, the story is accepted as fact here. Remember also that Fuji was at one point considering buying either Leica or Olympus. (Outright...?) Heady times. The takeaway for me: in spite of some horrendous corporate behavior going back at least two decades, Olympus technology and products, whether they be consumer cameras or endoscopes, are highly regarded, making Olympus a very valuable entity regardless...."