On February 21, tech enthusiast and guest lecturer Dr. Nirit Weiss-Blatt presented her research on tech news at the February Research Colloquium held at COM. Weiss-Blatt’s research focused specifically on the emerging world of tech media and where the multi-faceted industry is heading. Weiss-Blatt’s research is derived from her own experiences working in both tech public relations and tech journalism, which have fueled her interest in tech media overall.
Tech bloggers were defined in her presentation as early adopters who have a fundamental part in shaping the tech coverage. Weiss-Blatt claimed that “…since the mid-2000s, tech bloggers have become the new elite,” as traditional media journalists started to rely on them as sources of information for their stories.
Through research, she found that traditional media outlets follow-up on certain stories, such as “rumors” about tech products, as their new features are regularly being leaked to tech blogs. Weiss-Blatt used this finding as an example to explain the growing interconnectivity between different media outlets, covering tech innovations. The tech discourse is gaining an increasing appeal in the media because of technology’s widespread and growing influence.
Dr. Weiss-Blatt described the shift from “Product Journalism” to the new “Techlash,” as now the focus is on the “Big Tech” scandals. She believes that although the tech media is increasingly covering the various tech scandals, and damaging the tech brands’ reputation and trust, the consumers will continue to invite the tech products deeper into their lives, regardless of tech companies’ misdeeds. We all depend on them, so despite the tech criticism, the leading tech companies continue to grow (usage and profits).
Weiss-Blatt presented year-long graphs showing the peaks of coverage for the tech-giant companies. In previous years, “…negative stories got considerably less coverage,” in both tech blogs and traditional media. Tech companies’ coverage was centered around their product releases. In the new era of reckoning regarding the companies accumulating power, that is no longer the case.
Apple, on the other hand, continued to get massive coverage (articles and posts) around the products’ launches, while other negative stories barely raked in any attention in comparison. Scandals like “Batterygate,” in which Apple admitted to intentionally slowing down older iPhones, generated much smaller media hype.
Although, overall, negative stories receive gradually more coverage and attention, “consumers forget and move on,” Weiss-Blatt said. A product’s convenience will often rule over a consumer’s moral standing, and tech companies are aware of this. Weiss-Blatt mentioned that tech companies are sharpening their crisis communication strategies in light of their scandals, and “more scandals, secrets, and whistle-blowers are set to come out.”
Weiss-Blatt believes that tech companies should take responsibility along with an understanding of the “bigger picture” that is not entirely fixable. Thus, instead of saying, “We are working on actions to fix our issues,” tech companies should explain, “We can’t fix this alone, and we are working together with other crucial partners to find potential solutions,” she said.
Once the tech industry embraces the good and bad parts of its inventions, it would make the companies more reliable providers to consumers and the general public.
Moiketsi Thipe, Staff Writer
Moiketsi Thipe is a senior undergraduate student from Johannesburg, South Africa who is currently pursuing her studies in mass communications. She is curious about up-and-coming trends and appreciates the art of storytelling.