The tech press has dared to lean away from its core mission of making technology companies more profitable, says tech advocacy house ITIF.
The industry-funded think tank has cooked up an 18-page report [PDF] that laments what it says is a shift in the media from a "positive" attitude in the 1980s and 1990s to one that is more confrontational in the past two decades.
According to the ITIF, as tech news outlets have meandered from their central mission of hyping up technology and splashing around headlines about companies delivering quality products and treating customers fairly, multi-billion-dollar corporations have found the growing levels of criticism quite inconvenient.
"This report finds that there has been a notable decline in the favorable coverage of technology in the US media," the think tank claims.
"These findings reinforce the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation's earlier work that describes how the media contributes to a technology 'panic cycle' – the usual trajectory of public fear followed by widespread acceptance that often accompanies new technologies – by repeating and amplifying negative claims by those espousing fears about technological advancement, often without critically examining these claims or presenting the opposing perspective."
According to the ITIF, companies in the 1980s and 1990s enjoyed working with a media industry that celebrated the benefits of technology and promised it would bring more jobs and wealth. These days, however, they find that the media is more apt to focus on the negative implications new technologies could have, such as the loss of jobs or invasion of privacy.
That is not to say that the press isn't still incredibly friendly to tech companies. The study found that articles deemed "positive" continue to outnumber "negative" takes, though to a lesser degree than before.
Rather than place the blame for this shift on privacy invasions, defective products, unsavory employment policies, or toxic corporate cultures, the report says the tech press is not adhering to the marketing directives of tech companies because it is more lucrative for publishers.
The ITIF takes the bizarre stance that journalists being adversarial is bad because then it's easier for media outlets to turn a profit. Basically, your humble hacks, with bar tabs to settle and slot machines to feed, are guilty of daring to make money by pandering to pragmatists and cynics (aka Register comment posters). Perhaps we are guilty as charged: last year, The Register's owner Situation Publishing banked its largest ever revenues. And yes, we made a profit.
"The media does have a responsibility not to give more weight to the pessimists and technophobes than is warranted – even if doing so generates more revenue," conclude the report authors, who seem to hate the idea of journalists getting paid for telling the truth.
"Given these findings, the media should take steps to ensure its coverage of technology is less biased, and policymakers should be sensitive to the fact that public opinion about technology may be distorted by skewed views."
And by less biased, the think tank means, less negative. Well, given the incredible levels of blowjob journalism today's servile technology writers perform on a daily basis for vendors and web ad giants, we disrespectfully disagree that the media should be less gloomy and more cheerful.
Tech giants, we're not your cheerleaders. ®