October 14, 2015 Last Updated 11:54 am

Media’s debate scorekeeping risks alienating readers; Apple loses patent case to UW-Madison

Morning Brief: Career firm ranks the job of newspaper reporter as fourth most at risk due to changing technology, just ahead of meter reader, farmer and mail carrier

The first Democratic debate took place last night and, in the end, the real controversy that might arise from it may involve press coverage rather than the debate itself. Readers of the many of the leading newspapers woke up this morning to learn that Clinton was the clear winner, as if the result was as obvious and indisputable as the Dodgers win over the Mets. Maybe it was, I didn’t know there was a secret scoring system, and readers don’t seem to be in agreement if the comment threads are to be believed.

Sanders-Clinton-screenJust as instant polls are generally unreliable, so too can be comment threads. But I never thought it was the media’s role to tell us who won and who lost, only what was said. But now that the media sees their role as judge, it isn’t surprising to see them in conflict with their readers. They didn’t see the rise of Donald Trump coming, nor his “wins” in early GOP debates, and they certainly worked hard to tell readers Jeremy Corbyn couldn’t (or shouldn’t) be elected leader of the Labour Party. So it probably shouldn’t be a surprise that much of the media is now ready to weigh in on the Democratic side.

From a publisher’s perspective (rather than a editor’s) I am aghast. I don’t see this as a good business model unless you believe that all media will be partisan and only appealing to tiny portions of the public. Here is where old fashioned objectivity, much hated these days, seems to be the best policy. Report the words, report the reactions, but shy away from splashing your own opinions on the front page. You’ll only alienate a large percentage of your readers. And what if you are misjudging things, missing the big picture, failing to see the trends, being spun too much?

It is still early in the (far too long) election cycle. But the press is off to a bad start. It will be interesting to see if where it goes from here, and how much damage they do to themselves by being so willing to call the winners and losers before the voters even get a chance to weigh in.

CareerCast has ranked the job of newspaper reporter as fourth most endangered, just behind mail carrier, meter reader and farmer. Good thing there is no such thing as a major in newspaper reporting (it’s journalism).

“Another industry in decline is the media industry, which is undergoing a profound transformation as outlets work to keep up with evolving technology,” CareerCast said. “From its earliest days, the internet has posed a challenge to those steering the course of newspapers.”

May be true, but being a newspaper reporter still beats being a meter reader. So take that Lovely Rita.

Apple lost a patent battle with the University of Wisconsin-Madison yesterday. The case was brought by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation and the case was heard in Madison – a bit of a hometown jury if there ever was one.

The case involves A7, A8 and A8X processors, used by Apple in the iPhone 5s, iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, and certain iPads.

It has been estimated that losing this patent case could cost Apple as much as $862 million, though any damages imposed could be reduced upon appeal, or wiped away altogether.

Apple is set to announce earnings on October 27.

Barnes & Noble yesterday updated its iOS reading app for NOOK to make the app iOS 9 compliant.

B&N’s NOOK has gotten all the attention, but it is in NOOK content sales that I see things being bleak. Last quarter the bookseller said digital content sales declined 28 percent to $37 million. Device sales fell, too, the company has addressed this with its deal with Samsung.

The problem is that when on things about eBooks, one thinks Amazon first. According to the association representing major publishers, Amazon.com has 74 percent of the market, with Apple second at 11 percent. B&N comes in third, and sales are falling.

To me, this is a marketing problem, as much as a hardware and software problem. When was the last time you saw an ad on TV for B&N telling you to download books? Yet every Apple and Amazon ad for tablets involves a reminder that the devices can be used for reading. How consumers are even aware that B&N has an app for the iPad and iPhone?

Here is the app description for the NOOK update:

What’s New in Version 4.5.0

  • Support for iOS 9, iPhone 6s, iPhone 6s Plus, iPad mini 4
  • B&N Readouts: Daily streams of FREE quick reads—two-minute book excerpts and magazine articles—customizable by interest and designed for iPhone reading. Share on social networks, email, messages and other apps. Available from the navigation menu.
  • Change multiple text options at the same time
  • Tutorial screens highlight new app features
  • Change settings for screenshot feedback on the Send Feedback screen in settings
  • Bug fixes and performance improvements

Update: Kobo has just updated its Kobo Reading Appg> for iOS. The app description for the update is nearly identical to the previous update issued three weeks ago the introduced design changes – except this one mentions bug fixes.

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