Tom Foremski has written about the rise of tech product journalism and corresponding growth in the tech
Foremski has blogged quite a bit about public relations, and its need to adapt to new realities (see my post The Circle of Life in PR). But this piece is great PR for tech PR. If anything, it is a knock against tech journalism.
He starts by asking:
Why has tech reporting become such tedious product journalism? Why are reporters competing to scoop each other on news that is essentially a spec sheet about a mass-produced product? Why are we reading about products as a news story and not in an ad?
Foremski goes on to answer, saying things like:
Tech journalism became product journalism for one simple reason: it was created.
Over the past two decades tech companies have been steadily shifting their substantial marketing funds into public relations…The reason is simple… PR is much more efficient than advertising, you get far more marketing bang. You sell far more product through news stories and that’s what public relations firms do for their clients…
He concludes by saying
…. the PR firms do their job well, and the tech industry gets what it pays for: lots of news stories about their products. It’s not because the media are independent thinkers. After all, there are far more interesting stories to write.
I'll add a reason or two Tom didn't cover, and in doing so cut some slack for the great tech journalists we work with.
Tech journalism is often product-focused because that is what people want to read. We love our gadgets (see my post Bye Bye, Blackberry). We fetishize them. We love the drama behind them, and the stories about how they were created and how they live and die in the marketplace.
Product-focused tech journalism attracts readers and sells the ads, subscriptions and pays media salaries.