Thousands cover iPad debut PDF Print E-mail
Bloggers and amateur reporters beat the old media hands down with their coverage of the Apple iPad`s launch.

The most interesting thing about Apple`s debut of its much-awaited iPad tablet device was watching the difference between how the “new” and “old” media tackled the reporting of the event.

I sat in our Cape Town office throughout the launch, watching various techie blogs such as engadget.com, macrumors.com and gizmodo.com transmit one- or two-sentence takes on what was happening. Of course, Twitter was tweeting crazily, with over 100 000 tweets occurring within the first 30 seconds of the name being announced. I confess I was one of them.

The importance of Apple`s launch from a media perspective is that it provides a platform for a definite comparison between the news reporting styles of the “new” and “old” media.

Lagging behind

Major news sites, such as cnn.com and bbc.co.uk, appeared slow and serious in comparison to the “amateur” and breathless reporting taking place directly out of the auditorium, where His Steveness held court.

As far as I could tell, the first “breaking” stories from the major news sites only appeared 30 minutes after the presentation had started. Many other major news sites that attract international audiences, such as the London Financial Times and The Guardian, had not covered the story.

Sites such as Reuters, which historically is a news wire service, did cover the event in takes and consolidated them into a comprehensive story.

The professional news organisations delivered well-rounded stories that already had some analyst comment included, such as on sales expectations. They used a modicum of hyperbole to describe the event, and one could see the stories had been processed through a well-oiled “industrial” news machine.

Only professional reporters and journalists can really appreciate the amount of work and the number of people involved in ensuring these highly polished reports are published within half an hour of the event beginning. It is no mean task. But is it what the average, tech-savvy reader is looking for?

Fast and furious

The bloggers, tweeters and YouTubers, on the other hand, brought out that air of excitement that the true enthusiast can capture without the gate-keeping and editorial processes that professional reporters have. They also don`t care about being considered biased or not, and don`t care about spelling, grammar and editing errors.

Within seconds of the name being announced, already comments were being tweeted. Some were scathing, some were supportive and gushing, but almost all were funny, caught readers` attention and contributed to the overall debate.

Commentary between those who were pro and against flew thick and fast. This included debate about the technical specs, whether the iPad was a real Internet browser experience, the business model and almost every type of analysis a good reporter could wish for. And not one person commenting had even held the device yet.

Probably my favourite tweet was the one that said: “The iPad will change our toilet experience.” That touched the issue, because the one advantage newspapers always had was they were convenient to read almost anywhere, while, let`s face it, laptops and netbooks are not quite as accessible.

So, after reading through several thousand tweets (it certainly felt like it) and reading the effervescent blogging and viewing the bizarre first takes on YouTube, I found the professional reporting kind of bland and detached. Maybe that is why the big media houses are losing money; they are no longer entertaining in a world that lives on 24-hour adrenaline.

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