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'Times' Hypes Stale Story on Apple

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) -- In all the overplayed stories ever written about Apple (AAPL - Get Report), this one might take the overplayed cake.

The New York Times' lead story on Saturday -- the one the newspaper deemed more important than any other in business, politics or war -- ran with the headline: "Apple Officials Said to Consider Stake in Twitter."

That, as you'd probably surmise by the fact that it was the paper's lead story, means that, at least according to the Times, Apple is currently considering a stake in the social media company. The headline is, after all, written in the present tense.

But talks between Apple and Twitter are apparently dead as a dumpling.

After all, as the Times eventually admitted, Apple and Twitter are "not in negotiations at the moment." So much for that present tense, huh?

The Wall Street Journal even added in its own piece on the subject that the talks took place "more than a year ago."

The Journal, mercifully enough, did not attempt a verbal sleight of hand in the headline to make the story appear fresher and more relevant. Instead, the Journal wrote the headline as it should be -- in the past tense: "Apple Discussed Investing in Twitter."

It is essential to note, too, that the Times termed the talks "negotiations," which attaches importance and a near sense of finality to whatever took place.

The Journal called them "discussions," which is more modest. Also, considering the talks ended unconsummated, it's probably more accurate.

Look, Apple might fear it's running behind in the social media realm. But considering the challenges faced by Facebook (FB), LinkedIn (LNKD) and Zynga (ZNGA), Apple is probably not sweating it too badly.

Moreover, discussions between companies take place all the time. It is like trades between sports teams. In both fields, however, there is a big difference between exploratory talks that took place long ago and active current negotiations.

Looking to trumpet a big story, the Times blurred the lines. Don't let them fool you.

At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
At the time of publication, Fuchs had no positions in any of the stocks mentioned in this column.

Marek Fuchs was a stockbroker for Shearson Lehman Brothers and a money manager before becoming a journalist who wrote The New York Times' "County Lines" column for six years. He also did back-up beat coverage of The New York Knicks for the paper's Sports section for two seasons and covered other professional and collegiate sports. He has contributed frequently to many of the Times' other sections, including National, Metro, Escapes, Style, Real Estate, Arts & Leisure, Travel, Money & Business, Circuits and the Op-Ed Page.

For his "Business Press Maven" column on how business and finance are covered by the media, Fuchs was named best business journalist critic in the nation by the Talking Biz website at The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Fuchs is a frequent speaker on the business media, in venues ranging from National Public Radio to the annual conference of the Society of American Business Editors and Writers.

Fuchs appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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