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WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. (TheStreet) -- Watch yourself when a publication starts rolling takeover stories off an assembly line, producing a sort of Mad Libs for Mergers, where new names of companies merging are effectively plugged into an existing template.

This weekend's

New York Post


article about



possibly taking over


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is in substance and style the precise same as the Post article a few weeks ago about a prospective takeover of



. They both start off with a sentence about the possible deal as "The Post has learned." The passive voice here is a dead giveaway, a verbal distancing mechanism that should come with a red flag waving at you to be cautious. If active sources close to the negotiations existed, we'd probably hear about it in the lead.

It's telling that both stories went the passive route. Both also mentioned only unnamed sources--and, worse, with unspecified connections to any negotiations, save for a comically general "banker in the space," mentioned in the Oracle/H-P story. Moreover, read both stories and you'll see that these potential mergers, if they even exist, are in the notion stage, when companies are essentially thinking about thinking about merging. By that definition, though, you can effectively write about nearly any company in an industry taking over any other. They all give each other consideration at points, though the consideration is not serious enough to write up. That only gets traders wishing...and wishing only wounds the heart.

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;

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