February 21, 2012
Snubbing the Media — Strategy or Revenge? Apple's Stiff-Arming Of the NY Times After Paper's Foxconn Exposé Offers a PR Lesson In Access Journalism — Gadget Giant Leaves Gray Lady Out In the Cold By Breaking News Elsewhere
Apple is in the news for reasons other than the working conditions at Foxconn — but you wouldn't know that by reading the NY Times. For more than a week, the gadget giant has been seeding selected media outlets with early access to its next Mac operating system, dubbed Mountain Lion, and the Wall Street Journal's Jessica Vascellaro was recently offered a briefing by Apple marketing exec Phil Schiller and an exclusive interview with Apple CEO Tim Cook. Even Daring Fireball blogger John Gruber, who is known to write positively about Apple, described how he was summoned to a fancy hotel room in New York, given a polished one-on-one keynote presentation by Schiller, and sent home with a loaner MacBook Air pre-loaded with the new OS. "We're starting to do things differently," Schiller told Gruber. The Times, however, got skunked — no Cook interview, no quotes that weren't in the press release, and no call-back for Brian X. Chen, who penned the Foxconn exposé. Times all-star contributing columnist David Pogue got through to Schiller, but no regular Times journalist could make a dent. The reason for all this disrepect, the Washington Post's Erik Wemple speculates, was the hard-hitting Foxconn series the Times' ran last month. Foxconn assembles roughly 40% of the world's electronic devices, including those sold by Dells, HP and Sony — but the Times' series singled out Apple in way that many, including CEO Cook, thought was misleading and unfair. Was the cold shoulder the Gray Lady got this week really payback for the series? Reporters and editors at the Times seem to think so, Fortune reports.
Wemple got two quotes from the Times, one off the record, one on: "They are playing access journalism ... I've heard it from people inside Apple: They said, look, you guys are going to get less access based on the iEconomy series," said one Times staffer anonymously. "We're never happy with our access to Apple. We never have been. Apple is a difficult company to report on," said Damon Darlin, the paper's tech editor, Fortune reports.
When asked how big a deal is the Journal's exclusive with Cook, Darlin said: "Talking to the CEO of one of the largest technology companies, the highest-valued company of the world? Yes, we would like to do that. They know that." Apple's strategy seems to be working — Mountain Lion got an extraordinary level of press coverage, reports Fortune writer Philip Elmer-DeWitt.