Apple's decided to cut off press pass access to "rumor sites" like GraphicPower. I don't know Graphic Power; and I don't know about what other sites have been blacklisted. But in general, you should never, ever, tick off your fans. It's a rule that seems to be the most obvious thing to do, and yet, time and again it seems like Apple -- and other popular corporations & groups -- violates this simple rule. They get away with it too.
I don't agree with Camworld when Cameron Barrett says that Apple's right. They may be amateurs, but then again, so is he, so am I, and so are most fans. And most of the "press" covering this convention is made up of amateurs, meaning not getting paid for reporting on this kind of thing, or former amateurs. Macaddict is not what I'd call a standard professional magazine: they're pretty irreverant, and that's what attracts many people. They'll get in. Ric Ford's Macintouch is done by a now-seasoned professional. But it "began in 1985 as an independent journal about Macintosh computing, created and published by Ric Ford and Rick LePage. The two partners produced the monthly publication without advertising or sponsorship..." according to the site's history page. And what about Working Mac, As The Mac Turns, etc. They're more interesting than anything MacCentral, MacWorld or the rest of the ZD clan come up with on a regular basis. "Professional" can't only refer to people who get paid by a professional news group. We'd lose too many good, solid commentators and journalists in the Mac domain.
It's a problem that's been coming up, and I think now's as good a time to address it as any: the web has removed journalism from the exclusive domain of journalists, both for good and for bad. And "professional" journalism probably isn't all that far removed from "amateur" journalism.
For years, journalism (among *many* other fields) has been the exclusive domain of those who could get into some group that published journalism. Either you were on a newspaper, a magazine, maybe a TV reporter -- but otherwise, you were a "normal" person. Press passes went to "professional" venues first, then to independents, then *maybe* to smaller magazines. But 'zine producers rarely if ever got them -- again, they're considered "normal" people.
What we tend to forget is that most professional venues started as non-professional venues. Rolling Stone wasn't always a serious venue for journalism (any reading of Hunter S. Thompson probably could tell you that things were, at best, a little loopy around the magazine for a while). So what changes a venue from non-professional to professional? Money? Circulation? Advertisers? And how do those apply to web sites?
We've isolated journalism into an exclusive club for years, both for good and for bad. On the good side, journalism has developed ethical standards, ones that are, if not followed, at least recognized as something that should be followed. But, on the down side, it's hard for anyone to get into the group. It's getting harder and harder, really; you practically have to be born into it.
But now that the barriers to publishing are amazingly low; heck, I'm producing this site for the cost of a meal out a month. And suddenly we've gained a lot more "reporters", for good and for bad. They report, sometimes on things that mainstream press would never touch (good). They report without knowing journalistic rules like "don't blow your sources" and "think before you write" (bad). Journalistic ethics are not exactly complex, but if they're not followed, things come back to haunt you.
The best that can be hoped for is to encourage the good, discourage the bad, and accept the rest. Exactly the opposite of what Apple's doing: they're discouraging the good (by denying people who haven't been "rumor-mongering"), encouraging the bad (now people are on their high-horses and will go out of their way to publish the news before it goes out), and refusing to accept that their press is not what they might like.
I'd encourage Apple to take a second look, think about it, and retract it. Give some good will while you're on an upswing. People will give you a break when you go back down. That's the better part of valor this time around.Posted by Ted Stevko at July 7, 2002 09:59 PM