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Publishers Thumbs Up for iPad, but Publications are More Restrained

08 Apr 2010

Traditional newspapers and magazine publishers are looking towards the iPad's potential to reinvigorate their businesses as the gadget changes readers' lives, but coverage in their own publications toned down.

In the weeks since Steve Jobs introduced the iPad, as reported in Ad Age, its coverage in major magazines, newspapers and wire services has been neutral an overwhelming 76.8 per cent of the time, negative 17.4 per cent of the time and positive just 5.8 per cent of the time, according to analysis for Ad Age performed by Vocus, a provider of public relations management software that includes media monitoring.

Boston Globe columnist Alex Beam found occasion on March 16, for example, to passingly call the iPad a "pointless $500 geegaw."

Bloggers aren't counting on the iPad to change their fortunes, but they're way more likely to fawn over it. Blog posts about the iPad have been 57.9 per cent neutral, 13.6 per cent negative and 28.6 per cent positive, Vocus found.

Part of the difference, Ad Age states, results from traditional mass media's habit of playing things safe in the pursuit of broad audiences. Bloggers, aside from being pretty wired types and therefore predisposed to Apple gadgetry, have always felt freer to mouth off.

The irony is that bloggers' sharp opinions have often found ready audiences while making traditional media look bland -- which is one of the reasons that traditional media hopes its business will benefit from the iPad.

Vocus evaluated the tone of "iPad" and "Apple tablet" items from traditional news after tracking top magazines such as Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan and People; more than 100 newspapers, including The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times; and wire services such as the Associated Press and Reuters. It rated blog posts culled from Google.

The first hands-on reviews of the iPad suggest even the traditional press may be ready to swing its coverage toward the positive. "After spending hours and hours with it, I believe this beautiful new touch-screen device from Apple has the potential to change portable computing profoundly, and to challenge the primacy of the laptop," Walter Mossberg wrote, for example, in The Wall Street Journal last Thursday.



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