Minnesota Daily Refuses to Own Up to Inaccuracies

Enterprising editorialist Jake Perron takes aim at me but declines to set the record straight.
Published: October 22, 2007

I wrote about Jake Perron’s opinion piece on RFID technology in The Minnesota Daily the other day (see Minnesota Gets a Dose of Misinformation). I mistakenly referred to The Minnesota Daily as a city paper. It’s actually a student-run campus newspaper.

Perron has responded with another opinion on RFID, this one criticizing my blog (see Implanting knowledge before chips). Unfortunately, Perron has refused to acknowledge the gross factual errors in his article. Instead, he impugns my integrity by asking: “What purpose does the editor of a trade publication have for spinning the less attractive side of RFID technology? Self-interest? Company interest? Damage control?”

He then quotes an article in which Katherine Albrecht and Liz McIntyre once wrote, in response to my review of their anti-RFID book Spychips, “Reading Mr. Roberti’s rebuttal is like entering an alternate universe.”

The message to the reader is: “Hey, the facts I told you are true. Roberti is trying to mislead you because he’s making money off of RFID. Even the RFID and consumer privacy experts say he can’t be believed.” It’s clever writing, but appalling journalism. The reader doesn’t know (nor, apparently, does Perron) that Katherine Albrecht is not an RFID expert, opposes the technology on religious grounds and routinely spreads misinformation about the technology in order to scare people.

Perron also writes: “I wrote an opinion piece for the campus newspaper. I have an opinion. I think implanting humans with chips is frightening.” Of course, he’s entitled to his opinion. What he should not be allowed to do, however—what no reputable publication would allow him to do—is mislead readers with false information to get them to support his views.

I hope Perron’s brand of journalism is not what they are teaching on campus these days.