NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Traditional newspapers and magazine publishers are gushing about the iPad's potential to reinvigorate their businesses as the gadget changes readers' lives, but coverage in their own publications is far more restrained in tone.
In the weeks since Steve Jobs introduced the iPad, its coverage in major magazines, newspapers and wire services has been neutral an overwhelming 76.8% of the time, negative 17.4% of the time and positive just 5.8% 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% neutral, 13.6% negative and 28.6% positive, Vocus found.
Part of the difference, of course, 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 Blogs.
UPDATE: The first hands-on reviews of the iPad, which came out after this item was posted, 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 on Thursday.
David Pogue, then again, was a little more, well, neutral in The New York Times. "The bottom line is that the iPad has been designed and built by a bunch of perfectionists," he wrote. "If you like the concept, you'll love the machine. The only question is: Do you like the concept?"