From Blogs to the Media: News of Quinn’s Resignation Spreads (Slowly)

It's been 24 hours since I first reported that Peter Quinn had resigned as the CIO of Massachusetts. In this entry, I pull together all of the additional information of note that has appeared on line thus far, including further details regarding why Quinn resigned, an official statement regarding what Massachusetts will do next regarding ODF, and the first report from the Boston Globe. I also follow the bread crumbs that show how news travels from the Blogosphere to the traditional media when a story breaks - in a word, it travels "slowly".

The dissemination of the news of Peter Quinn’s resignation has followed a classic nouvelle journalism path: it was first reported here by me and at Groklaw by Pamela Jones, and was then spotted by journalists, one of whom wrote a story posted at the BetaNews site that appears to have been based entirely on Pamela’s and my blog entries. Others delayed posting stories while they sought for confirmation of the story (several contacted me) and reactions from those with background on the story (ditto). Their stories next appeared at on-line media sites, and now, presumably, the story is finding its way into the print media.

This post will pull together the additional information to be found in all articles that appear to be available thus far (11:45 AM EST) on line, per a Google News search, excluding duplicate articles.

The first article with new information I’ve found is an IDG News article written by Robert McMillan and first posted at the Macworld site (see my last blog entry for quotes from that article).

An on-line article by the Boston Globe’s Steve Kurkjian also bears a December 28 date. It was Kurkjian, you may recall, who made the inquiries to Massachusetts State officials that sparked the unfounded investigation into Peter Quinn’s travel documentation. Kurkjian’s brief article is titled and subtitled, “Technology adviser quits unexpectedly; Says those against change have made him ‘lightning rod,'” and includes the following excerpt from Quinn’s email to his employees, in addition to the excerpts earlier included in the McMillan article:

I view these circumstances as quite troubling because the good work laid out by the IT Commission is slowly being strangled and brought to a halt. And the last thing I can let happen is my presence be the major contributing factor marginalizing the good work of ITD and the entire IT community.

Kurkjian also reports on the prospects for Quinn’s legacy being perpetuated, as follows:

Eric Fehrnstrom, director of communications for Governor Mitt Romney, yesterday confirmed that Quinn had submitted his resignation, effective Jan. 12. Fehrnstrom, however, rebutted Quinn’s strong implication that the administration was backing away from the recommendations, issued on Aug. 31 and announced by former Administration and Finance Secretary Eric Kriss, that the executive branch was moving toward open format software.

”We are moving steadily towards that deadline and we expect no changes in those rules,” Fehrnstrom said. Under the Aug. 31 initiative, the state would require all documents produced by the state’s executive branch to be stored in a new, universal computer format, called OpenDocument.

Somewhat incredibly (to me, at least), while Kurkjian also recounts that Quinn had been investigated and cleared of travel improprieties following a “report in November that Quinn had failed to fill out the required state forms,” he fails to mention that he was the journalist that wrote the report that most obviously led Quinn to feel like a “lightning rod.”

An early article on Quinn’s resignation also appeared at ZDNet’s U.K. site, written by Ingrid Marson, who has been following the Massachusetts ODF story for some time. The additional information to be found in this article (titled “Massachusetts CIO quits amid OpenDocument furor”) is as follows:

Eric Kriss, the former Massachusetts Secretary of Administration and Finance who was Quinn’s boss during most of the ODF evaluation process, said that Quinn found it difficult to handle the personal attacks that followed the state’s high profile move. Quinn was particularly affected by last month’s report in the Boston Globe, which claimed he had taken unauthorized trips to conferences, according to Kriss. These allegations were investigated, and Quinn was later cleared of any wrongdoing.

The Boston Globe’s report attracted a flood of criticism from the technical and legal community. Groklaw described it as a “character assassination in an attempt to discredit OpenDocument.”

And that’s all there is so far, 24 hours after the news of Peter Quinn’s resignation spread widely via the Blogosphere to thousands upon thousands of on line readers, spreading comment threads everywhere they appeared.

If additional news warrants, I’ll post again later today.

[To browse all prior blog entries on this story, click here]

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