01.10.11

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Microsoft Distorts the News at Expense of Billions

Posted in Microsoft at 1:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Boy reading a newspaper

Summary: As Microsoft reviews its prize media account, the general modus operandi of corporate press gets discussed

ACCORDING to this article spotted by Satipera the other night, Microsoft — like the Gates Foundation which relies on the likes of Waggener Edstrom — is looking for new advertisers to change the news in its favour. As Reuters put it:

Microsoft Corp has put its estimated $1 billion media buying account into review, raising the possibility the business could move to an agency other than current partner Universal McCann, according to a source familiar with the account.

Universal McCann is a division of advertising holding company Interpublic Group and is a major player on Madison Avenue, with blue-chip clients including Exxon Mobil, Johnson & Johnson, and Sony Corp.

It would be highly unusual if Universal McCann chose not to defend the account during Microsoft’s review. Given its size and prestige, the account would likely attract keen interest from competing agencies.

For those who don’t know (what ought to be known by all but is rarely known), these types of firms are media pushers. In fact, their role is to incentivise for journalists the publication of pro-Microsoft pieces. Occasionally I’m approached by those PR agencies, especially after writing for a news site and making something like the front page of Slashdot. They try to arrange meetings, allegedly to ghost-write articles (not just press releases) and push fake ‘news’ all in sorts of other ways. That’s why there were so many articles about KINect and Vista Phony 7 [sic] for example. Microsoft is said to have spent half a billion dollars just marketing each one of these. Ghabuntu asks a good question right now: “What Is Happening to Technology Reporting these Days?”

I never cease to be amazed at how tech journalism/blogging could be so shallow. Apple introduces the Mac store and it’s headlines almost instantly. Like seriously? The ability to manage programs on a computer from an integrated control centre is really news? Or multitasking for the iPhone?

Or take Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 upcoming update that is said to be coming with copy and paste. In 2011? And this is really news? Anyone who has used a feature phone from Nokia in the last Lord knows how long will really laugh at this. And yet we have writers falling over each other to report these mundane and almost anachronistic news.

In all honesty, I think tech reporting is fast falling into the gutters. Rather than critically questioning the status quo, techno journalists/bloggers rather swallow all the crapolla from companies like Apple and Microsoft and regurgitate to the mostly uninformed masses. We end up applauding companies for introducing things competitors had long ago and make it seem like a novel thing.

Our answer to Ghabuntu is, the role of the corporate press is to make money, not necessarily to report what is important. We’ve already addressed the unimportance of the news from Apple.

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