That’s what I think I shall call shit like this:

This is barely a news article at all. It’s a fucking advertisement. I don’t hate Macs, and some of what the article says is true. (For example, that Macs are less prone to attacks than PCs.)

But the tone of the article in particular is ridiculous. It is not trying to honestly inform us of something. It isn’t even trying to persuade us to a viewpoint. It appears to me to be simply asserting a viewpoint.

The worst bits:
"And Macs look better than nearly all Windows PCs."
Note that this is not somebody being quoted. Nor was there any attempt whatsoever to make this objective. I would accept, “And many people prefer the look of Macs to PCs.”

"Tiger provides another incentive to switch from Windows."
The entire thing reads like something released directly from Apple. But this line just clinches it. An article simply informing us that an important new update for a popular OS would not bother telling us that we should switch. It would merely say, “The new OS can do X, Y, and Z.” To be more informative, it might even continue, “Microsoft’s Windows XP and do X and Z, but not Y.” (Assuming, of course, that this was factually accurate.)

"The onus is now on Bill Gates & Co. to see if it can one-up Steve Jobs’ shop."
Again, this isn’t from somebody quoted by the writer of the article. I would accept, “Joe Schmoe, long-time Mac enthusiast and owner of the Macs R Us store in Bumfuck, Iowa, says, …” Or even a simple statement like, “What remains to be seen is what features will be available in Windows Longhorn, and whether consumers will be persuaded to switch to Macs or stay with their PCs.” But “one-up Steve Jobs’ shop” is clearly stating that Tiger is better than current Windows versions. This is simply not an objective statement unless it is qualified in some way.

Note: This is not a pitting of Macintosh computers, or Apple. Or Steve Jobs, or Bill Gates, or anything like that. It is a pitting of a news article I happened to find on that reads like it was lifted directly from an advertisement.

(Or, they could clearly mark this “article” as an Editorial. I’d be happy with that as well.)

Ok, am I completely insane from lack of sleep and too much work, or does anybody agree with me on this?

Working for a small community newspaper, I can say that we get thinly veiled “press releases” all the time (none from Apple, that I’m aware of). An unscrupulous reporter on a deadline basically has ready-made “stories” delivered to him, and if there’s space to be filled. . .

I’d figure CNN would be above something like this, but you never know. Not saying it’s justified, just saying how it happens.

Also, most (honest) newsfolk see the line between advertising and news as sharp and broad, and do want it to remain that way.

At the college paper I worked at, news side and advertising were in separate rooms, no one on the news staff worked on advertising (and vice versa), and we pretty much had no business contact with each other except what was necessary to work out technical issues. There were a few times when we added “Advertisement” to the top of an ad we felt matched our font and layout too closely.

My current newspaper has a similar arrangement.

Advertising is important, as it provides virtually all the income for most newspapers (subscription income, when compared to advertising income, is very small), but its also important that readers are able to tell what’s paid for and what’s news. Some things get close to the line (features about a new product), some blur it (this article, IMHO), and some take a long jump across it.