Pop used to zing me with the old saw to “believe 50 percent of what you read and 90 percent of what you see” — though I’d wager that in this age of digital photography and computer-based video wizardry, the latter of those number might tumble. It would seem that a fair number of would-be Net reporters [and fellow bloggers] either never got that advice, or failed to heed it.

The web is abuzz this week with news that Yahoo has sold out — adopting payola practices for search engine placement — leaving Google as the solely virtuous, unbiased search and directory service on the Net. Tracing the link hoopla to its source reveals that a single article on SFGate.com is the seed of this meme… and actually reading the article in question reveals that it’s packed with misleading information and erroneous assumptions.

Fact is, Yahoo has been soliciting dollars for express placement for quite some time… it’s only just recently raised its rates. And, it should be noted that such placement is strictly for commercial listings, none of which is mentioned in the “Doom Ahead” article on SFGate.

Whether Yahoo should or should not charge for placement [oops, for express review] is largely beside the point… it’s done. It’s been done for a year or more. It’s old news. The real news here has more to do with the reflexive twitch of so many web chronicles to speedily spread the dirty word. Miss Manners would not approve.

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