Recently some media critics have found fault with the state of tech journalism, particularly in light of all the attention lavished on the new iPhone. E.g., Tom Foremski (who previously wrote about "tedious product journalism" in tech) said, in his piece What the iYawn 5 Reveals about the Dire State of Tech Journalism:
The rise of pageview journalism now dominates most newsrooms and its effects are seen in the torrent of near-identical news stories that desperately link-bait readers to click on rewrites of corporate PR releases...
Foremski says, essentially, that weightier stories are being ignored while the media goes overboard on their Apple enthusiasm: Here is another excerpt:
Tech journalists swarmed into Yerba Buena in San Francisco earlier this week to cover the much-anticipated Apple iPhone 5 launch. Some news organisations sent multiple reporters, Fortune sent five.
This small improvement in a mass-produced consumer product resulted in a flood of news coverage. Yet just yards [away]... Intel..was.. releasing details of its next generation Haswell microprocessor, and discussing where it sees the future of computing...How many stories have you seen about Haswell and IDF compared with the launch of Apple’s slightly longer, slightly slimmer iPhone?
Mic Wright wrote for Telegraph about what he called complicity between tech journalists and PR, using Apple as an exmaple too:
Reviewers tread a tricky line – they must be critical and honest to keep the confidence of their readers but can, if they hammer a particular brand too hard, find themselves left out in the cold, unable to get access to the review units they need to do their job.
Product-focused journalism is a compromised world. Even those voices that seem to be utterly outspoken ...are nothing of the sort. Gizmodo... turned viciously on Apple only after it was shut out of the company's briefings when it took possession of a stolen iPhone. When someone strays from that plan... the complicity... between PR and the tech press is revealed. The product-led brand of tech journalism is not about objective reporting – it’s about access to shiny new objects.
If you were one of the many tech vendors or PR firms not aligned with Apple last week, it might be tempting to agree with Foremski. We want the media to focus on what we think are the substantive stories involving our clients.
Yet complaining about this is like complaining that most bestselling books are not literature and most TV shows are crap. The media writes about the shiny new tech toys because we like to read about and own them. The media sometimes favor the lighter story because many readers want diversion and enterainment in news, not a homework assignment.
As far criticism that PR plays a role in corrupting the process, I have found that the outliers are the ones that make the news; we have all read about some of the more famous flameouts in tech PR.
However, from where I sit - as someone who has worked in the field for many years, and has watched, and been involved with countless campaigns - it seems to me that most PR folks are just trying to do their jobs, and get coverage for clients in a very ethical and non-controversial way.