Apple receives a level of media coverage that could be argued as disproportionate according a new report. (And yes, we at GeeksAreSexy are aware of the irony involved in covering this report and giving the company even more publicity!)
The Pew Research Center looked through 437 tech stories across 11 newspapers, three cable news channels, three TV network news shows, 12 mainstream news websites and 10 radio programs to draw its conclusions. That’s something of a problem in itself: that breakdown may be somewhat close to the relative influence of each form of media (though TV should probably be higher), but it doesn’t necessarily reflect the diversity within each form. For example, even the output of just six channels is far more representative of all TV news than 12 websites is of the entire web.
The five tech companies with the most coverage were Apple (15.1% of all tech stories), Google (11.4%), Twitter (7.1%), Facebook (4.8%) and Microsoft (3.0%). It should be noted that even though the research covered a 13-month period (June 2009-July 2010), the Twitter figure appears to have been notably distorted by coverage of its role in protests over the Iranian election last year.
So why the disparity between Apple and Microsoft? Part of it seems to have been that Apple’s business is based more around events: during the study period it had the launch of two different iPhone models plus the iPad. Indeed, these stories plus the App store and Steve Jobs’ health made up almost the entire Apple coverage.
Microsoft had its own high-profile release of course with Windows 7. That raises the possibility that the Apple coverage stems from its products being eyecatching gadgets that lend themselves more to both broadcasting and multimedia websites, whereas arguably the main selling point of Windows 7 is that it doesn’t crash or throw up error messages as often, something that hardly makes for an exciting demonstration. That theory is somewhat born out by the fact that the Apple gadget coverage made up a considerably lower proportion among newspaper articles, where writers can go into more depth.
It’s also possible the Apple coverage becomes somewhat self-perpetuating. For example, once the iPhone 4′s release got so much attention, it made follow-up stories about the handset’s reception problems a more obvious topic to cover.
The study also noted that when it came to individual stories, matters of politics and procedure such as the FTC’s broadband regulation and net neutrality received comparatively little coverage. The only real exception was the ongoing debate about texting while driving, and related laws, which was the most-covered individual story, making up 8.5% of all coverage. That one makes sense: although net neutrality arguably affects almost as many people (if not more), the consequences of dangerous driving are clearly much easier to illustrate, particularly aided by the reader/viewer’s imagination.