So you might have heard about this big kerfuffle at CES where some reporters from Gizmodo went around blasting out TV screens with some kind of little remote control device and then filming themselves doing it. Now one of them has been banned for life from CES and Gizmodo editor Brian Lam (photo) has penned this lame defense saying that blasting out screens at a trade show is a form of civil disobedience and I guess is right up there with MLK at Selma or something. I will address Brian’s essay below but before I do I just want to send out this warning to Gizmodo and anyone else who might be thinking about blasting out TV screens at Macworld: Think twice, losers. Because we will not be banning you from our show. We’ll be fucking tasering you right there on the floor. Then, when you’re lying there on the floor in shock, we’ll carry you off the floor and put you on a plane and rendition your ass to someplace so awful you’ll be praying for death. I mean it.
Brian’s argument seems to be that Gizmodo’s rebellious pranksters are real journalists and the rest of the filthy hacks are just a herd of sheep who do whatever we vendors tell them in order to keep getting access to our products and those of other vendors. Says Brian: “Every tech journalist has to decide whether or not he’s writing for companies or for readers.” Brian seems to think that if hacks just rewrite press releases and regurgitate the info we give them that somehow they’re not legitimate journalists. I disagree. What is the point of turning this wonderful symbiotic relationship between vendors and hacks (access, articles, advertising) into some kind of adversarial relationship? Why can’t we all just get along? At Apple we hire the finest writers and thinkers we can and set them to the incredibly difficult task of explaining our amazing products and guiding customers and media people alike to a deeper understanding of why these products are so exceptional. Why wouldn’t the best reporters in the field take advantage of this service? They’d be foolish not to. And why make an enemy of us? What’s the point? Because you think you’re “serving readers” and giving them “the truth,” whatever that is? Friends, I kind of resent that statement, because it implies that the story as we vendors tell it is not the truth. That people at Apple are liars. That we consciously set out to mislead the outside world or give them bad information. We all know that’s not true. We wouldn’t still be here in business after thirty years if we were doing stuff like that, would we?
If you want the God’s honest truth, it’s this: Nobody needs the media. They really serve no useful purpose. They know it, and we know it. We can tell our story much better than they can, and we do exactly that, every day of the week. Nonetheless, the media refuses to go away — not because they have some big holy mission, but because there’s money to be made at what they do. From our perspective it doesn’t hurt to have a venue that appears to be independent and objective and trustworthy. So we form an unholy bargain with them. We never discuss this bargain openly with them, but sooner or later the scales fall from everyone’s eyes and we all know exactly how the deal works. It’s like this: We keep the hacks alive by buying ads from them, and we let them preen and preach about their sacred calling and we even pretend that they really are objective and intelligent and that we totally respect them, even as we utterly control them and totally shape their coverage of us; then to add a final layer of irony we pay them to let us reprint their rave reviews on our Web site, and we pretend that these puff pieces actually count for something, even though we the truth is we practically wrote them ourselves.
Brian Lam seems to think there’s something wrong with this. Oh well. He’s young. He’ll learn.