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New York Times Columnist Goes Undercover, Secretly Creates Best-Selling App

The New York Post reports on Bob Tedeschi, a former columnist for the New York Times' Gadgetwise blog who was sent undercover in 2010 to develop an app. The story was eventually spiked, but Tedeschi kept the project going.

The app he created, Bobo Explores Light, received an Apple Design Award and a number of other accolades and praise. Tedeschi used a pseudonym to avoid any favorable treatment by Apple or anyone else because of his job at the Times, and after the app proved so successful, he was moved from Gadgetwise to a gardening column.

Bobolight
"I was floored by how well it did," Tedeschi told The Post. He said his contact at Apple was "speechless" when he broke the news he was behind “Bobo,” which copped a slew of Apple awards.

"Bobo," created with two executives at Game Collage, has hit No. 1 in 12 countries in both the education and book categories.

Costing $4.99, "Bobo," which launched Sept. 15, 2011, is currently the No. 72 top-grossing iPad app, according to AppData, and is the first children’s educational app to make the App Hall of Fame.
Bobo Explores Light for iPad is available for $4.99 on the App Store. [Direct Link]

Top Rated Comments

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Posted: 21 months ago
Whats the big deal? A reporter made an app under a false name and it turned out to be a good app? Who cares?
Rating: 18 Votes
Posted: 21 months ago

Whats the big deal? A reporter made an app under a false name and it turned out to be a good app? Who cares?


Make one, win and ADA and then you will be able to speak.
Rating: 13 Votes
Posted: 21 months ago
Isn't the point of going undercover to come back and "tell all"? Where are the tips, Apple Store secrets, download numbers, revenue numbers, country splits, etc etc.
Rating: 9 Votes
Posted: 21 months ago

Isn't the point of going undercover to come back and "tell all"? Where are the tips, Apple Store secrets, download numbers, revenue numbers, country splits, etc etc.


Yea that is what I was getting at. I'm not saying that making a great app is easy, I was just asking what the point of this story is. A reporter changes his name and makes a good app. That is all of the information that this story provided.
Rating: 9 Votes
Posted: 21 months ago

lol. the app was so successful that he went from Gadgetwise to a gardening column :confused:


But now it's the geekiest gardening column ever.
Rating: 7 Votes
Posted: 21 months ago
lol. the app was so successful that he went from Gadgetwise to a gardening column :confused:
Rating: 6 Votes
Posted: 21 months ago

Whats the big deal? A reporter made an app under a false name and it turned out to be a good app? Who cares?


The big deal is

Ironically, Tedeschi’s app creation was first discussed with a Times editor as a possible story that would address how hard it was to make a living developing apps.


The Times was out to bash an industry (app writing). The initial bias was "can't make a living writing apps". He went undercover to, as others touched on above, to be the news, to create something to report on. For some unclear reason the story was spiked, but he was intrigued and kept at it. If he had, in fact, finished the app and achieved poor results for his efforts ... how many here don't think the assignment would have been resumed and the resulting story published? (Hey, he did the work anyway, basically a free "capitalism is unfair" story.) Notice that the original assignment wasn't "can someone make a living writing apps?", it was "a few lucky well-connected people aside, nobody can make a living writing apps" - biased from the beginning, imbued with someone's pride in making an unfair point instead of just reporting facts surrounding an interesting question.

Fortunately for whoever initiated the story, the assignment was formally dropped.

Unfortunately for whoever initiated the story, the assignment was carried thru anyway, and proved the opposite of what was intended - much to the embarrassment of the editor.

The big deal is that a reporter was assigned to invent news to make a biased point for someone, and had the assignment not been dropped and the expected result occurred he would have been congratulated on a successful story and kept his position ... but, in true classic tenacious reporter style, he followed the assignment thru to the end, and when the result wasn't what was originally sought he was (get this!) demoted to a gardening column!!! WTH?

Methinks it's a big deal in revealing institutional bias at the NY Times. Sent to invent "news" of a particular outcome, the opposite happens ... and the reporter is all but fired for it.

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Good for him. Making money undercover and giving inspiration to others, including the young ones.


And getting punished for doing so.

Anyone think any other NYT reporters are going to go "above and beyond" to get a story when and outcome other than what was intended will get punished with a stereotypical demotion just shy of outright termination?

If the NYT had run the resulting story straight - "Reporter Sets Out Undercover and Wins a Losing Proposition thru Sheer Tenacity" - it would have been a great article, much discussed and lauded. Instead of giving inspiration to others, including the young ones, the message is "the nail which stands out gets hammered down".
Rating: 4 Votes
Posted: 21 months ago
I think half the story here isn't that the guy wrote a successful app undercover--although that's pretty funny. It's that they spiked what would have been a heck of a story when he did.

One gets the feeling that they specifically wanted him to write a story about how hard it is to write a successful app, or how everybody who tries, fails... except he didn't. And instead of rolling with it, they got cheesed off, killed the story, and put him on a gardening column.

Maybe the gardening column was because of potential conflicts of interest (although LOTS of tech writers have their own projects on the side), but killing the story is hard to interpret as anything but spite when it didn't end up being the headline they wanted.
Rating: 4 Votes
Posted: 21 months ago
only to be followed by more big hits of the philosophically challenging, baby brain development series Bobo

Bobo becomes Space & Time itself
Bobo bent in a black-hole
Bobo sucked through a Wormhole
Bobo and the Multiverse of Quasar Clusters

More titles to come
Rating: 4 Votes
Posted: 21 months ago
The story that the journalist was writing was spiked, meaning it was rejected by the editor. If you want to know what the story was, then your beef lies with the New York Post. I think it makes the whole situation even more ironic.
Rating: 3 Votes

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