Yesterday we told you about the New York Times' report that Apple and Twitter had engaged in talks about a potentially huge investment, but as other news organizations looked into it the excitement over the story quickly disappeared.
The Times' Nick Bilton and Evelyn Rusli reported that Apple had talked with Twitter about making an investment worth "hundreds of millions" in recent months, according to "people briefed on the matter." But then the Wall Street Journal's Shira Ovide and Jessica Vascellaro reported that while yes, they had talks in the past, they happened over a year ago, according to "a person familiar with the talks." They both included the fact that the two companies weren't in talks right now. The Times started to take criticism for the story because the two companies weren't talking. If the investment isn't going to happen, who cares? Reuters wrote this about the rumors started by the Times' piece:
It is unclear if the two companies talked about a deal in the past and at what level such discussions were held, but there are no current, formal talks between the companies on an investment or acquisition, the sources said.
Responding to criticism from Steven Levy, Bilton defended the story like this on Twitter:
@StevenLevy "One unsourced sentence." + investment amounts; Where companies are aligning; A VP @ Twitter now exclusive w/ Apple. Etc. Etc.— Nick Bilton (@nickbilton) July 28, 2012
While Bilton focuses on the details, that Apple was considering an investment in Twitter is the biggest part of the story. Who you believe over when the talks actually happened comes down to which reporters you trust more. None of the stories identify who their sources are. At no point do we learn where in corporate totem the sources sit. It comes down to trusting a reporter's source who was "briefed on" or who's "familiar with" the talks.