A briefing memo that Microsoft Corp. and its outside public relations agency kept on a Wired magazine reporter who was writing an article on the company accidentally ended up in the reporter's e-mail in-box.
In February, while reporting on a story about Microsoft's video-blogging initiative Channel 9, a Web site designed to facilitate communication between Microsoft's developers and its customers, reporter Fred Vogelstein received the e-mail that was intended for a Microsoft executive, not him.
"As journalistic windfalls go, this is about as good as it gets," Vogelstein said in his blog. "There I was writing a story about how Microsoft is on the cutting edge of using the Internet to become more transparent, and there in front of me are the briefing documents they are using to manage the story. The timing was so fortuitous that I wondered whether it was intentional. When I told Microsoft about it, they convincingly told me it was not."
However, after reading the entire memo, which Vogelstein called a "secret dossier," he was less than thrilled about some of the comments Microsoft made about him.
"It's a little weird to read in a professional briefing document that you're 'long-winded,' and that you're 'tricky.' At least the latter isn't how I characterize myself, and I suppose I wouldn't characterize myself as long-winded, but others have," he said in a telephone interview.
In the 5,500-word memo, Microsoft said, "Fred can be a little tricky in interviews. He looks deeply for any dirt around whatever topic he is focused on and generally is tight-lipped about the direction he will take for his stories, sometimes even misleading you to throw you off. It takes him a bit to get his thoughts across so try to be patient."