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Amazon Headlines Need Warning Label

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- The transitive property of . . . smartphones?

Just because Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT) and Nokia (NOK) are purportedly releasing smartphones after Labor Day weekend, does it automatically stand to reason that Amazon (AMZN) will too?

According to some in the media -- including Marketwatch -- the answer is "yes." But that answer relies upon the transitive property of smartphones, which we'll explain in a moment, and not on single sources (reliable or not) or any other shred of hard evidence.

Here's how the party started: Amazon sent out invitations Thursday about a Sept. 6 event. They didn't say what it was about. The best guess -- because they already have a tablet and the meeting seems to be organized by Amazon's Kindle division -- is that they will announce the next version of their Kindle.

But even that, which makes the most intuitive sense, is pure guesswork and should be clearly stamped with a speculative label. Reuters did well in this regard right in their headline: "Amazon event on September 6 sparks Kindle speculation."

Some in the media, though, went in an entirely different direction. Problem is, their reasoning was reed-thin, their sourcing nonexistent and, worst of all, they didn't, like the Marketwatch story on their more reasonable prospect of a Kindle, come with a disclaimer attached: This is unadulterated speculation.

Here's Marketwatch's headline: "Will Amazon launch smartphone in September?"

Their justification introduced us to that transitive property of smartphones: if A and B is doing it, then so will C.

With Amazon's AMZN -0.05% event timed for Sept. 6, one day after a Microsoft Corp. MSFT -0.93% holds a press conference in conjunction with Nokia Corp. NOK -4.69% in New York, and one week before Apple Inc. AAPL -0.11% is expected to introduce the iPhone 5, it's entirely feasible that Amazon could also talk about or launch its much-anticipated smartphone.

An "entirely feasible" concept, unsupported by an ounce of evidence, only serves to add to a culture of fervid speculation and does not merit an article, much less one that comes without a warning label.

At the time of publication, the author held no positions in any of the stocks mentioned.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.

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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