Roundup: How bias can creep into tech coverage

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Roundup: How bias can creep into tech coverage
Sony headquarters sign. Photo: Flickr/xsix

One of the reasons tech coverage can be so positive toward tech companies comes from bias; from people liking those companies or believing in a broader ideology that tech ultimately does good in the world (if they think it does much bad at all). Those biases often go unacknowledged, even though they can be crucial to how a journalist or an entire outlet approach a company.

I still think Apple gets more of a pass than it deserves because of how well it cultivated fandom for so long. Its keynotes weren’t just product updates; they were events that journalists got a front row seat to and where they could clap along with executives and fans alike. For a while, I was guilty of that too. As I wrote about in March, I was an Apple fanboy, and while some of my first articles about tech were about Apple changing its product line to charge higher prices to take advantage of inequality, for a while I still believed it was the lesser evil in Silicon Valley.

I’m reflecting on this topic this week because I’ve found myself confronting one of my own biases. I’ve been closely following the story about Paramount Global and whether it will agree to an acquisition deal. A couple weeks back, it was announced that Sony might join Apollo in its bid for the company and it was confirmed this week with a $26 billion offer. Immediately I found myself hoping it would happen.

Despite that fact I believe consolidation has been a negative force in entertainment — I’ve even written as much about film and video games — I’ve long held a soft spot for Sony. Playstation was my first video game console, and I still have a fondness for its electronics. When I moved last year and needed to buy a new television, I didn’t look at reviews of televisions generally — I looked at reviews of Sony televisions. My setup contains a Sony TV, Sony soundbar, Sony Blu-ray player, Sony Playstation 5, and an Apple TV.

I don’t actively cover the entertainment industry, so I’m not so concerned about that bias around Sony creeping into what I write — and even if I did, I can acknowledge how that knee-jerk reaction to favor a Sony takeover of Paramount goes against my broader views that it would be a bad move. But I can think of plenty of examples where those views do shape people’s coverage, and thus readers’ understanding of issues in the tech industry. In my view, it’s a dangerous thing.

Anyway, those thoughts aside, there are some great pieces in the roundup this week on the far-right politics of tech billionaires, along with other recommended reads, labor updates, and other news you might have missed. I’ll also be releasing a book list for paid subscribers looking at interesting tech books coming in the next few months in the coming days.

Over on Tech Won’t Save Us, I spoke to Nicole Lipman about Chinese fast fashion giant SHEIN and how it’s basically taking over the industry, but in the process only exacerbating the problems with how our clothes are made.

If you’re in Austria, I’ll be speaking at Art Meets Radical Openness in Linz on Wednesday. Later this month, I’ll also be in Copenhagen to speak about AI at ENIGMA.

Have a great week!