The below is a repost of an excellent summary by Laurent Haug, who recapped findings from a new research study done by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism. The study “was designed to examine the media coverage that occurs when technology news crosses beyond technology-oriented outlets or news sections to the top of the American news agenda—to front-pages, the national nightly news, cable prime-time and other general interest news outlets. It did not delve into specialty publications or sections.”
- The mainstream media’s coverage of technology was not vast. It made up less than 1.6% of the total coverage over the course of the year, ranking it 20th out of the 26 identified topics. That puts technology news in same range as the environment, sports and education. And while it trails far behind crime (4.7%), it comes in ahead of religion (.6%) and immigration (.9%).
- The study examined which technology companies generated the most media attention in these venues. Apple, with its flashy press events and often drawn out releases of new products, narrowly outpaced Google in total coverage. Twitter and Facebook ranked third and fourth. Microsoft, on the other hand, once the feared technology behemoth, fell far behind—attracting just a fifth of the coverage of Apple and less than half that of Twitter.
- For Apple, the most heavily covered technology company, 42% of the stories described the company as innovative and superior, and another 27% lauded its loyal fan base. But there were doubts. The most common such negative thread, that Apple products don’t live up to the hype, appeared in 17% of stories about Apple. For Google, the company’s advancements in making content easier to find topped its coverage at 25%. But it was only half as likely as Apple to be framed as having superior, innovative products (20%).
The press reflects exuberance about gadgets and a wonder about the corporations behind them, but wariness about effects on our lives, our behavior and the sociology of the digital age.