Yellow Journalism: A Trend Amongst Tech Editorial

Cross posted from my Tumblr, which you can check out by clicking here.

Via MG Siegler’s parislemon:

“I spent the last week trying to write a column that proved Twitter wasn’t worth $10 billion. Then the facts intervened.” — Dennis K. Berman, writing for The Wall Street Journal.

This statement is simply ridiculous. Berman’s philosophy, that Twitter may not be worth $10 billion as some might suggest, is not illogical nor inaccurate, but his approach to covering technology-related news is disconcerting and downright disgraceful. To cover news with a previously constructed narrative that caters to one’s own vision of reality (the reasoning of which is mysterious and questionable in it of itself) and not genuine, absolute fact is preposterous to the integrity of the editorialized news medium, damaging to the credibility of the affiliated outlet, and insulting to the reader.

Perhaps even more troubling, however, is that Berman’s ideology isn’t solely a product of his own beliefs, but rather speaks to, if not directly mirrors, the ideology and execution of many major news organizations as a whole. The way in which large, reputable news outlets, such as Forbes, Times, and The Wall Street Journal, practice today’s technology-related reporting is downright absurd. News writers, reporters, and even columnists, don’t gather a complete array of concretely factual and relavent information about their subject matter and report it with a clear and accurate narrative. Instead, they develop an elaborate, preconceived philosophy about what they want the news to be and then craft a completely ludicrous story, using little or falsified facts, to support their desired constructed fantasy.

It’s shocking to think that a major, well-respected news outlet such as The Wall Street Journal would even think to publish outrageous and evidently false information as factual news, but this isn’t the first time they’ve done so. In fact, it’s not even the first time this week. Just three days ago, John Gruber linked to a piece onDaring Fireball from The Wall Street Journal in which he highlights the absurdity and blatant inaccurate portrayal of Android tablet marketshare in a piece by Amir Efrati. In his commentary, Gruber dissects Efrati’s piece paragraph by paragraph and contrasts the statistically and verifiably accurate information included within against the piece’s title and overall impression. It turns out that while the numbers add up, they don’t equal Efrati’s fallacious, sensationalist title or even remotely support his claims that, “Android Tablets Gain on iPads [marketshare].” Save this piece for your claim-chowder archive.

But it doesn’t stop there.

A day later, Gruber tore apart another piece (this time by Sam Gustin reporting for Time) on Google Glass’s supposed negative impact on the public perception of Apple and its products. Gustin claims that with the introduction of Google Glass, Apple expectations are returning to Earth. “People want the company to invent a new category. In the past, they’ve done that so frequently and successfully that when they don’t seem to do it as much or as profoundly, questions arise,” he says. Gustin then continues stating, “the company’s Google Glass wearable computing project — high-tech Internet-connected specs — is generating the sort of buzz usually reserved for Apple products.” Bold claim, Gustin, but Gruber isn’t having it. He responds (quite knowledgeably), “So a product from Google that currently exists only as a pre-announced demo and somewhat-imminent $1500 developer preview — from the company that brought us the Nexus Q and Google TV — shows that Apple has lost its edge? OK, got it. It should be clear to anyone who pays even half attention to the industry that Google and Apple are polar opposites in numerous regards.” But he isn’t finished. Gruber goes on stating, “Apple’s recent stock slump; the promise of Google Glass; the mere existence of the Chromebook Pixel, regardless of its price or critical ratings; the fact that Apple has spent the last three years doing what it does best, iteratively improving and refining existing products — and has forced these facts into supporting the narrative that Apple is, as he began arguing back in August, “losing its shine” without Steve Jobs. I sense a trend.”

It’s evident. There’s absolutely a trend and it’s poisonous to both the news and technology industries. How can technology companies like Apple focus on continuing to build and ship innovative products while the incessant and inaccurately-founded lambasting of click-hungry media continues? This kind of technology journalsim is unacceptable and must be called out for what it is: yellow journalism.

When asked about the status of the iPad and digital publishing at the All Things D8 Conference, Steve Jobs famously said that “[he did not] want to see us descend into a nation of bloggers.” He followed up stating, “I think we need editorial now more than ever.”

The problem is, how can we not fall into a nation of bloggers, in which bloggers are perceived as unintelligible individuals spewing random, unverified, and unsupported claims whilst hiding safely from any personal or occupational responsibility behind their computer screen, when editorial is exactly that.