Monday, June 28, 2010

How about an iHype ‘tax’ to save the news?

The pesky problem of paying for the news could be resolved rather fast if publishers and broadcasters just charged Steve Jobs a nickel a word for all the free hype they provide to sell his iParaphernalia.

While I admit to being as fascinated as the next guy with Apple’s electronic confections, it is nonetheless staggering to see how much scarce reporting talent and news hole goes into pimping iProducts in the nation’s press.

In a quick survey of the online archives of 10 randomly selected newspapers, I found that far more coverage was devoted to articles containing the keywords “iPad” and “iPhone” than, say, “Foxconn,” the Chinese company where there has been a cluster of suicides among the workers who manufacture Apple’s wunder-gear under what charitably could be called demanding working conditions. Here’s what I found:

In fairness, it must be noted that not all iPad and iPhone stories are favorable, including this piece by Nicholas Kristof on the bloody provenance of some of the components in certain electronic components. Some articles talk about malfunctions in Apple products (and the miserably over-saturated AT&T network on which they attempt to operate) and a few covered the door-busting police raid that Apple encouraged on the home of a reporter who got his hands on a pre-release iPhone4 that evidently had been left in a bar by one of its engineers.

Judging from a scan of the headlines (I made no effort to read the hundreds of articles), the overwhelming thrust of the coverage contributes to building advance excitement for both iGizmos and then fueling the frenzy by describing the real or stage-managed shortages that followed their release.

It’s hard to think of any other company that consistently merits so much fawning coverage for doing the same thing every manufacturer does: Creating a new product, announcing it is going to come to market and then coming to market. Imagine how silly it would be if the press went nuts for weeks on end about the next-generation version of Charmin or a new incarnation of Diet Coke.

Should Jobs decline to pay for all this favorable ink – as you know he would, if asked, which he won't be – the least he can do to repay the kindness of the press would be to give newspapers some badly needed tips on marketing. It would be a major iMitzvah.


Blogger Benjamin Cole said...

Sorry for this belated comment.
This reminds of the now long-agao day that sports stadiums and arenas began to sell "naming rights." So the "Fabulous Forum" in Inglewood became the "Great Western Forum."

Why the print and mainstream media went along with this gag is a question. Does the LA Times get money when it refers to "Staples Center"? No.

The LA Times should refer to the arena in neutral terms, unless compensated.

5:05 PM  

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