"And when we asked why ... the owner, Alek Komarnitsky, did not respond"
ABC Denver Channel 7 6:00 News, Monday, December 27th, 2004

... BUT ... over 5 hours earlier, I sent them two emails that they acknowleged receiving and these included a link to a full statement that stated why I did this which they first downloaded at 12:54 and nine more times before the 6:00 News. So while I'm a geek, not a reporter, I gotta wonder a little bit about how "journalistically truthful" their comment above was - read below and decide for yourself! Here is a link to view the on-air correction.


These Channel-7 guys are pretty funny - read a LOT more on the media update page

2004_12_27_noonish: Charles Forelle informs me that the WSJ article will probably run in the online edition in a few hours. He says he'll be contacting some of the folks who ran the story originally for comment. I explain that I will also inform media contacts that I have dealt with that "something" is coming and to check my web site for details, I don't have a pre-made list, so I start working through 'em.

2004_12_27_12:43: Alek sends the following Email to the Channel-7 contact ... I pulled the person's name to save them any possible embarrassment.
Just an early heads-up that I'll should be making (for me) a major announcement about my Christmas Lights Webcam soon. I hope you enjoyed it as much as bazillions of people around the world did (the chopper ride we did was absolutely great - would love to do again), and stay tuned at: http://www.komar.org/cgi-bin/xmas_webcam
Happy Holidays, alek

2004_12_27_12:53: Looks like Charles already contacted 'em as they quickly respond and I send the following notice to 'em (with their note to me at the top):
Alek-- I already got a call from the Wall Street Journal. Anything you want to tell me now since I've already had to call my supervisor and the station manager today.
FYI: I dropped you (and other media contacts) a courtesy heads-up as soon as I got the news this was going to run. I have NOT released this publically yet, so I would ask that you "hold" it until the WSJ goes public, but since you are in the "know" allready, here's what I have written about it: http://www.komar.org/xmas/hoax/
Pls note the "special message to the media" which I hopes your bosses read; and I'm sure some of the media will never talk to me again (!) ... but I sincerely hope there is no hard feelings.
alek

In hindsight, it was a mistake to share my statement to 'em (regardless of their subsequent coverage) because I should have waited for the WSJ story to go live ... which was my response to the rest of the media. I'm a geek, not a PR guy, so my boo-boo ... I'll know better if there is a next time! ;-)

2004_12_27_shortly thereafter: They sent a one-line response asking "Why" ... since I had already answered this question in my release, I saw no point in replying, plus I was pretty darn busy letting other media outlets know. Plus I was telling all media that I could not comment on the story until after the WSJ article went online. I deleted this last message, so I don't have the exact timestamp and wording. Ironically, they had my statement over an hour before any other media outlet, but their story had a major factual error in that the Wall Street Journal did NOT "uncover the ruse" but I approached them (plus they spelled my name wrong - it's only all over my web site) ... but I'm sure they were in a rush to get the story out - they were first on the AP Wire and many other media outlets ran their story - will we see a correction to the correction! ;-)

While I responded fairly promptly to all media folks who Emailed me or called my house, Channel 7 did not Email or phone me any more in the next 5 hours before they reported on the air that "[Alek] did not respond" So I guess I'm puzzled by their on-the-air statement on the 6:00 News to hundreds of thousands of viewers. I guess they could claim they are factually correct - I truly did not respond to their specific followup question ... although I had just sent them a fairly complete statement that DID answer the question ... and oh yeah, by 6:00, that statement had been downloaded 4,533 times - gosh guys, it was all right there for 'ya! ;-)

Oh yeah, one last thing ... Channel-7 setup an online "poll" where they asked "Are you mad to find out the Christmas lights were faked" - and I was heartened to find that when I first checked it, 412 votes (81%) said "No, because it's funny" and only 98 people (19%) said "Yes, becuse he duped me" ... and as the evening wore on, those numbers went up and when I checked back a few days later, the numbers were 3,519 versus 665 - i.e. 84% of people thought it was funny.


In reviewing some of the correspondance a week later, I again came across this note "From: Wayne Harrison (wayne@pinecam.com) ... Date: Mon Dec 27, 2004 12:56 pm ... Subject: fake internet lights? ... I'm just hearing something about this all being a big ruse and that your lights aren't actually controlled by internet users. Apparently the Wall Street Journal is doing a story on it. Is that true?" and I replied to 'em a few minutes later saying a "major announcement was coming soon" as was already noted on my web site.

I remember thinking at the time that it was odd someone from "pinecam.com" would be contacting me about this, since the story wasn't out yet ... but there's a good explanation - Wayne Harrison is a Senior News Editor at ABC-7! ;-) Very clever of Wayne to go "fishing" for information without identifying his affiliation! ;-)


BTW, the 9News gang did a much nicer job with their modified AP online story and very classy on-the-air correction by Ward on the 10:00 News - nice job guys!


Here are the actual web server logs from ABC-7. The IP address 198.45.19.20 resolves as gw2.mcgraw-hill.com which is their parent company.

198.45.19.20 - - [27/Dec/2004:12:54:48 -0700] "GET /xmas/hoax/ HTTP/1.1" 200 18629 "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0)"
198.45.19.20 - - [27/Dec/2004:13:06:37 -0700] "GET /xmas/hoax/ HTTP/1.1" 304 - "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0)"
198.45.19.20 - - [27/Dec/2004:13:08:48 -0700] "GET /xmas/hoax/ HTTP/1.1" 304 - "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible;)"
198.45.19.20 - - [27/Dec/2004:13:12:48 -0700] "GET /xmas/hoax/ HTTP/1.1" 304 - "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible;)"
198.45.19.20 - - [27/Dec/2004:13:14:47 -0700] "GET /xmas/hoax/ HTTP/1.1" 304 - "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0)"
198.45.19.20 - - [27/Dec/2004:13:22:50 -0700] "GET /xmas/hoax/ HTTP/1.1" 304 - "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible;)"
198.45.19.20 - - [27/Dec/2004:13:35:43 -0700] "GET /xmas/hoax/ HTTP/1.1" 304 - "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0)"
198.45.19.20 - - [27/Dec/2004:13:48:54 -0700] "GET /xmas/hoax/ HTTP/1.1" 304 - "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible;)"
198.45.19.20 - - [27/Dec/2004:15:18:56 -0700] "GET /xmas/hoax/ HTTP/1.1" 200 18630 "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible; MSIE 6.0; Windows NT 5.0)"
198.45.19.20 - - [27/Dec/2004:15:45:12 -0700] "GET /xmas/hoax/ HTTP/1.1" 200 18890 "-" "Mozilla/4.0 (compatible;)"