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Old Jan 15, 2013, 01:13 PM   #1
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New York Times Columnist Goes Undercover, Secretly Creates Best-Selling App




The New York Post reports on Bob Tedeschi, a former columnist for the New York Times' Gadgetwise blog who was sent undercover in 2010 to develop an app. The story was eventually spiked, but Tedeschi kept the project going.

The app he created, Bobo Explores Light, received an Apple Design Award and a number of other accolades and praise. Tedeschi used a pseudonym to avoid any favorable treatment by Apple or anyone else because of his job at the Times, and after the app proved so successful, he was moved from Gadgetwise to a gardening column.

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"I was floored by how well it did," Tedeschi told The Post. He said his contact at Apple was "speechless" when he broke the news he was behind "Bobo," which copped a slew of Apple awards.

"Bobo," created with two executives at Game Collage, has hit No. 1 in 12 countries in both the education and book categories.

Costing $4.99, "Bobo," which launched Sept. 15, 2011, is currently the No. 72 top-grossing iPad app, according to AppData, and is the first children's educational app to make the App Hall of Fame.
Bobo Explores Light for iPad is available for $4.99 on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Article Link: New York Times Columnist Goes Undercover, Secretly Creates Best-Selling App
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 01:18 PM   #2
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Simply brilliant >.<
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 01:29 PM   #3
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Whats the big deal? A reporter made an app under a false name and it turned out to be a good app? Who cares?
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 01:32 PM   #4
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Whats the big deal? A reporter made an app under a false name and it turned out to be a good app? Who cares?
Make one, win and ADA and then you will be able to speak.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 01:34 PM   #5
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Either you're right and it's completely uninteresting that a reporter went undercover to prove how hard it is to make a successful app, then made a wildly successful app.

Or *you* don't think it's interesting, but others do. I think it's interesting, but maybe I'm the only one.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 01:35 PM   #6
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Isn't the point of going undercover to come back and "tell all"? Where are the tips, Apple Store secrets, download numbers, revenue numbers, country splits, etc etc.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 01:35 PM   #7
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lol. the app was so successful that he went from Gadgetwise to a gardening column
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 01:38 PM   #8
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lol. the app was so successful that he went from Gadgetwise to a gardening column
But now it's the geekiest gardening column ever.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 01:38 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by orangebluedevil View Post
Isn't the point of going undercover to come back and "tell all"? Where are the tips, Apple Store secrets, download numbers, revenue numbers, country splits, etc etc.
Yea that is what I was getting at. I'm not saying that making a great app is easy, I was just asking what the point of this story is. A reporter changes his name and makes a good app. That is all of the information that this story provided.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 01:40 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by KirkTheJerk View Post
Whats the big deal? A reporter made an app under a false name and it turned out to be a good app? Who cares?
People who realize the world is not all about them, they might care to learn this information. It may even inspire someone to try and achieve something new/different in this crazy world.

Or just keep their day job as a "gardening columnist."

Or just try to bring everyone else down so they are as miserable as they are.

Who knows.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 01:45 PM   #11
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The story that the journalist was writing was spiked, meaning it was rejected by the editor. If you want to know what the story was, then your beef lies with the New York Post. I think it makes the whole situation even more ironic.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 01:57 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KirkTheJerk View Post
Whats the big deal? A reporter made an app under a false name and it turned out to be a good app? Who cares?
Agree - unless he was using some sort of insider tricks to prove how easy it is to make a great selling / award winning app - what's the point?
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 02:03 PM   #13
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only to be followed by more big hits of the philosophically challenging, baby brain development series Bobo

Bobo becomes Space & Time itself
Bobo bent in a black-hole
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More titles to come
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 02:39 PM   #14
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lol. the app was so successful that he went from Gadgetwise to a gardening column
I assume it was considered a conflict of interest for the writer to have a best selling app somewhere and still be writing about others...
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 02:57 PM   #15
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I assume it was considered a conflict of interest for the writer to have a best selling app somewhere and still be writing about others...
Yeah, the Post's article mentions that:

Quote:
Tedeschi said the Times’ ethics cops suggested he switch off the Gadgetwise beat because of his financial interest in the app.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 03:20 PM   #16
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Aside from the unintentional financial success, reporters are supposed to report the news not be the news. So there were actually two conflicts of interest. But it is cool!

Wouldn't it really F things up all around if the paper claimed ownership of the revenues?

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Old Jan 15, 2013, 03:23 PM   #17
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Good for him. Making money undercover and giving inspiration to others, including the young ones.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 03:42 PM   #18
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Yes very cool stuff!
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 04:04 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by orangebluedevil View Post
Isn't the point of going undercover to come back and "tell all"? Where are the tips, Apple Store secrets, download numbers, revenue numbers, country splits, etc etc.
Because they need more people eating they're potential profit
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 05:23 PM   #20
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I think half the story here isn't that the guy wrote a successful app undercover--although that's pretty funny. It's that they spiked what would have been a heck of a story when he did.

One gets the feeling that they specifically wanted him to write a story about how hard it is to write a successful app, or how everybody who tries, fails... except he didn't. And instead of rolling with it, they got cheesed off, killed the story, and put him on a gardening column.

Maybe the gardening column was because of potential conflicts of interest (although LOTS of tech writers have their own projects on the side), but killing the story is hard to interpret as anything but spite when it didn't end up being the headline they wanted.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 05:24 PM   #21
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Gonzo!

This is Gonzo journalism at it's finest! I bet he's a big Hunter S. Thompson fan.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 05:26 PM   #22
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Originally Posted by orangebluedevil View Post
Isn't the point of going undercover to come back and "tell all"? Where are the tips, Apple Store secrets, download numbers, revenue numbers, country splits, etc etc.
In this case, he mainly went undercover to make sure WHO he was didn't make people judge what he did differently - either as a plus or minus.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 05:37 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by KirkTheJerk View Post
Whats the big deal? A reporter made an app under a false name and it turned out to be a good app? Who cares?
The big deal is

Quote:
Ironically, Tedeschi’s app creation was first discussed with a Times editor as a possible story that would address how hard it was to make a living developing apps.
The Times was out to bash an industry (app writing). The initial bias was "can't make a living writing apps". He went undercover to, as others touched on above, to be the news, to create something to report on. For some unclear reason the story was spiked, but he was intrigued and kept at it. If he had, in fact, finished the app and achieved poor results for his efforts ... how many here don't think the assignment would have been resumed and the resulting story published? (Hey, he did the work anyway, basically a free "capitalism is unfair" story.) Notice that the original assignment wasn't "can someone make a living writing apps?", it was "a few lucky well-connected people aside, nobody can make a living writing apps" - biased from the beginning, imbued with someone's pride in making an unfair point instead of just reporting facts surrounding an interesting question.

Fortunately for whoever initiated the story, the assignment was formally dropped.

Unfortunately for whoever initiated the story, the assignment was carried thru anyway, and proved the opposite of what was intended - much to the embarrassment of the editor.

The big deal is that a reporter was assigned to invent news to make a biased point for someone, and had the assignment not been dropped and the expected result occurred he would have been congratulated on a successful story and kept his position ... but, in true classic tenacious reporter style, he followed the assignment thru to the end, and when the result wasn't what was originally sought he was (get this!) demoted to a gardening column!!! WTH?

Methinks it's a big deal in revealing institutional bias at the NY Times. Sent to invent "news" of a particular outcome, the opposite happens ... and the reporter is all but fired for it.

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Originally Posted by Squilly View Post
Good for him. Making money undercover and giving inspiration to others, including the young ones.
And getting punished for doing so.

Anyone think any other NYT reporters are going to go "above and beyond" to get a story when and outcome other than what was intended will get punished with a stereotypical demotion just shy of outright termination?

If the NYT had run the resulting story straight - "Reporter Sets Out Undercover and Wins a Losing Proposition thru Sheer Tenacity" - it would have been a great article, much discussed and lauded. Instead of giving inspiration to others, including the young ones, the message is "the nail which stands out gets hammered down".
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 05:53 PM   #24
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Make one, win and ADA and then you will be able to speak.
I've won awards, but I don't know what to say. Congrats to the journalist maybe? It's rather easy really - just have a good idea (journalists get presented with so many ideas. I imagine they'd develop a good intuition of what makes something good), be humble with your own ideas, bam.

But it is difficult to make a living from it. Winning awards, being critically acclaimed... it all means nothing unless you get exposure (neither those 2 things guarantee that). A lot of it is dedication and pushing yourself as far as you can go. Again, I reckon that's a feature most journalists have.

I know many excellent developers. Most of which have second jobs (consulting, teaching, creating assets) because living off app development is quite difficult. Way more so than console development.
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Old Jan 15, 2013, 08:06 PM   #25
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Make one, win and ADA and then you will be able to speak.
He doesn't need to win an award to have an opinion.
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