Press Nazi Says, 'No Pass For You'

Originally published 05 July 2002 as a Tech Reflections article for Low End Mac.

The latest Big Story™ running around the Mac Web is Apple's revocation of press credentials for several members of the press. The only one identified thus far is Scott McCarty, editor-in-chief of GraphicPower, a graphics-oriented Mac news site until earlier this week. eWeek's Matthew Rothenberg, a former MacWeek columnist, mentions that "a plethora of independent sites" have been denied press credentials, and McCarty's rant alludes to the fact that Apple actually had previously issued press credentials pulled earlier this week, according to an IDG employee.

I understand Apple's motivation behind this, but I don't understand the application of it. Nick dePlume, publisher of Think Secret, has written a tirade deriding Apple for even so much as considering such an action. However, Nick and his fellow rumormongers Ryan Meader (MOSR) and, worst of all, the crew at SpyMac, deserve every bit of flak Apple (and anyone else) gives them. They are not members of the press. They're in the entertainment industry. And Lord knows Apple isn't handing out press badges to the producers of Inside Edition. (To Nick's credit, he claims he didn't try to request press credentials, probably because he knew he had a snowball's chance in Hades of getting them.)

As I said a year ago this month, there seems to be a correlation between how poorly Apple meets the expectations created by the various rumor sites and Apple's perceived health as a corporate entity, which tends to hurt Apple's share price. Since the responsibility of Apple's management is to run their business in such a way as to create value for shareholders, it's perceived to be in Apple's best interest for the rumor sites to go away.

Fine. But there's an alternative. I'm not sure I fully support this, but it's an idea that I mentioned last year, too. Give the rumor sites what they want. Leak a little bit of information on purpose a month or two before Macworld. I know this goes against everything Uncle Steve believes in, but you can't have complete secrecy and then be shocked when people raise Cain after you deny members of the press their credentials.

That leads me to my second point. I don't understand Apple's actions at all. The motivation makes sense, sure. But why deny press credentials to a reporter from a admittedly rather minor (compared to the ZDNet behemoth) Mac news outlet? GraphicPower hasn't exactly been the "L@@K! PHOTOSHOP 7 BETA SCREEN SHOTS" headquarters, and even if it was, that's Adobe's problem, not Apple's.

What does Apple gain from keeping Scott McCarty out of the press areas at MWNY? And is it worth the cost in bad publicity? Remember Rule Number One of Public Relations: Never anger anybody with a soapbox big enough to get people's attention.

Apple just goofed, big time.

What further concerns me is the "plethora" of unnamed Mac journalists who have also had their press credentials denied or revoked. You don't want MOSR or Think Secret to have them, fine, but what did (I have no idea if any of these sites have been affected) the Mac Observer, MacInTouch, Low End Mac, MacOpinion, or MacEdition ever do wrong?

I have a distinct feeling Rothenberg hit the nail on the head when he said that Apple "has taken a uniquely aggressive stance toward information that ... doesn't come from a publication too big or influential for it to mess with." It would appear that Apple only wants official Apple coverage and begrudgingly tolerates the likes of Ziff-Davis and major newspapers. Smaller (read: less likely to put up a legal fight) independent news sites are clearly discouraged from reporting on Macworld Expos.

You can't tell me Anne Onymus (or something like it, which is more rumor than what GraphicPower published) is grounds for calling LEM (or similar sites) a "rumor and speculation site."

Then again, if you're Steve, maybe it is.

copyright ©2000-2004 by Chris Lawson