New York Times: Left hand, meet right hand

Brian Stetler, today on the New York Times media and advertising blog “Media Decoder”:

A new study confirms what some in the technology industry have long sensed: that Apple commands an inordinate amount of the media’s attention.

A yearlong look at technology news coverage by the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism found that 15.1 percent of tech articles were primarily about Apple; 11.4 percent were about Google; and a meager 3 percent were about Microsoft.

It’s not as if Microsoft lacks for public relations people. But Apple is especially effective at seizing journalists’ attention, said Amy S. Mitchell, the deputy director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, citing the anticipation for new devices and Apple’s “very public way of releasing products.”

Apple software powers only a tiny slice of the world’s computers, an area dominated by Microsoft. But its popular and innovative iPods and iPhones helped Apple exceed Microsoft’s market capitalization earlier this year.

Ms. Mitchell said she was surprised by the extent of Apple’s domination of the media’s diet, “even over Google.”

On the Firing Line: My 500 Days at Apple, by Gil Amelio (former Apple CEO) and William L. Simon, 1998; chapter 11, “Crack of Doom—Dysfunctional Relationships,” paragraphs 3-7, pages 156-157:

The media blitz about Apple should have been a delightful experience; as hoped for in Barnum’s famous phrase, they were spelling the name right. I once asked for a count of how many articles on Apple appeared in a typical month. The answer our PR department came up with: over 1,000 stories, articles, profiles, and interviews. And this was in a quiet month, when we didn’t have any headline activities going on.

I could well understand an extensive interest about Apple in the Bay Area and the trade press covering high tech. But why this excessive level of coverage in other locations? So I posed the question to a New York Times staffer: “You’re a New York newspaper and we’re a California company, why do you include so much coverage of Apple?”

“Because we sell more papers.”

I asked him to be more specific.

He said, “I can give you the exact statistics. When we run a strong story on Apple, we sell three percent more papers. So we run stories on Apple. That’s the bottom line.”

You can forgive the Pew Research Center for not knowing this, but it’s difficult to extend the same generosity to the New York Times itself.