Tech reporting becomes more negative

A  new report from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) claims that tech reporting was not what it used to be and is now a lot more negative.

The report was based on textual analysis of 250 articles from The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and The Washington Post from 1986 to 2013.

Generally the ITIF found that in the 1980s and 1990s, coverage of technology was largely positive, but this changed from the mid-1990s to 2013, when more negative reports covering the downside of technology, its failure to live up to its promises, and potential ill effects, started to appear.

The ITIF thinks that there has been a significant increase in the number of civil-society organisations and attention-seeking scholars focused on painting a threatening picture of technology. Another reason is that news organisations are under increased financial pressure, and thus, reporters may have less time and fewer resources to dig deep into technology issues.

“Since media outlets generate revenue from page views, they have an incentive to pursue alarmist stories that generate clicks.”

Daniel Castro, ITIF’s vice president and the report’s co-author, said: “The way the media portrays any given issue shapes public opinion about it, and that in turn shapes the course of policymaking. So, it is important to ensure that technology coverage airs diverse perspectives without giving any side more weight than is warranted. If technology reporting continues with the trend we’re seeing toward pessimistic — and in some cases technophobic — critiques, it will likely spur policymakers and the public to support even more unnecessary, unwarranted, or unwise policy interventions.”

That still does not explain why the US tech press has its nose firmly planted in the bottoms of key tech companies, particularly Apple. But then, I am just being negative.