Cargo cult journalism

If you want to see a demonstration of cargo cult journalism, look no further than Vanessa Allen in the Daily Mail writing about the RBS / Natwest payments system failure. For context, compare and contrast it with The Register's exclusive article on it from earlier today (which The Mail references).

Compare Anna Leach in The Reg:

The main batch scheduling software used by RBS is CA-7, said one source, a former RBS employee who left the company recently.
A second former employee, familiar with RBS's use of the CA-7 tool, confirmed that the majority of batch processing at RBS was performed using the software and fingered a failed update as the cause of the problem:
Staff who oversee batch scheduling for RBS are based in India:
At least some staff overseeing CA-7 batch scheduling software used by RBS are based in India as this job advert for a CA-7 admin in Hyderabad, dating from February this year shows:
Fairly well sourced and clear. Now let's compare Ms. Leach's output with Ms. Allen's:
The flawed computer programme that led to chaos for millions of RBS customers was being supervised by an IT support team in India, it was revealed last night.
Last February, RBS advertised for a series of key jobs, paying between £9,000 and £11,000 a year, in the Indian city of Hyderabad. That is way below what an equivalent worker would be paid in Britain.
The Mail article can be summarised as "OMG, dirty foreigners are stealing our jobs and wrecking our banking system." The Reg is far more nuanced: "this is the system involved in payments, it's reasonable to suspect its involvement in last week's problems, at least some of the support staff are in India and RBS seemed to know back in February that it needed more staff there."

You can just bet that the CA-7 staff in RBS will be doing their utmost to blame Hyderabad for the failed update. You can equally be sure that RBS management will do and say anything to avoid the implication that offshoring support to India caused the problem. Frankly, however, I'm inclined to take RBS management's side. ("How do those words taste coming out of your mouth?" "Like vinegar.") If any CA-7 work were retained in the UK, it would have been the development side. Contrary to popular opinion in the software world, it's the developer's responsibility to ensure adequate testing of their changes. They may rope in the testing and release team to help them, but they are the ones who made the changes and so they are the only ones who can realistically determine the necessary scope of pre-release testing.

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