When Wiggle and Chain Reaction Cycles announced yesterday they were to merge this was confirmation of a story BikeBiz broke on Wednesday. According to Pinkbike.com‘s Paul Haysom this was "probably the biggest story in the history of the industry."
The BikeBiz story broke at 12.35pm; within minutes it was news around the world, with the British cycle media the first to pick up on the story’s significance. American consumer cycling websites then followed suit before the mainstream media piled in. There were stories on BBC, Retail Week and the Belfast Telegraph. There was a story in the print edition of The Times. Many other media outlets also carried stories citing the BikeBiz scoop.
Most of the news sources either quoted or linked to BikeBiz, which led to the story going viral with thousands of tweets and 1800 Facebook likes.
When Australia woke up it was news there, too. Phil Latz, editor of Bicycling Trade, warned those on his email list that the story he was leading with might prove to be "click bait".
"I rarely publish stories like this," he said, blaming the lack of an offical statement and no named sources.
But he was "taking a punt this time," he said, because "I’ve known the journalist involved, Carlton Reid, for many years. He’s a true ‘industry insider’ in the UK with decades of experience and I doubt that he’d be putting his credibility on the line without, at least what is in his opinion, strong information from well-connected sources."
Indeed, our executive editor hit the "publish and be damned" button because he felt his sources were solid and reliable. He also verified the story using good old-fashioned journalistic methods – he’s protecting his sources and won’t reveal exactly how he was able to confirm his hunch but he assures us it was all above board!
Reid said: "I’ve been in this industry long enough to have developed some really strong relationships with movers, shakers and those in the know. People trust me with sensitive information."
The Wiggle scoop wasn’t a case of publishing a rumour, it had to be much more robust than that. After all, this was a £300m business deal, and such sensitive transactions tend to be both finely balanced and highly secretive.
"I was given the whiff of a story but knew I couldn’t publish it without getting independent verification," said Reid.
"I can’t go into the methods that I used to verify what my sources were telling me because I want to be able to use them again in the future but it involved detective work, a hunch or two and a little bit of luck."
While Reid was building up his case he kept us informed here at BikeBiz towers (Reid might be the mag’s executive editor but he works 200 miles away from our office). Then, when he felt he had enough evidence, he published the story, putting his reputation on the line at the same time.
When the story started going viral on mainstream media both Wiggle and Chain Reaction issued statements saying they didn’t want to comment on "speculation". Two days after BikeBiz broke the story Wiggle issued a press release confirming our scoop was accurate in every detail.
Is the Wiggle/Chain Reaction deal the "biggest story in the history of the industry"? Probably not but there’s no doubting it’s up there with the biggest, and all of us here BikeBiz are proud to say that we’re fiercely independent and always hungry to get you the news which, by definition, is the stuff that some people don’t want splashed across the media.