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Dear Journalist,
Market share and the Press

By:David K. Every
©Copyright 1999

Here is a letter, you can send to your favorite journalist who implies that marketshare really matters, that quality does not, or that cheap is better. Maybe they'll get it, but my confidence in their comprehension is dwindling with each article that parrots the same dull and outrageous points.

Dear [Journalist],

I am sad to say I must cancel my subscription to your publication, and I must encourage everyone else to do the same. It is obvious that [Publication name here] is beleaguered and doomed since everyone knows that your publication lacks the market share of USA Today or the National Enquirer. Not to mention the huge circulation loss compared to fortune cookies, electronics instructions and warning labels. Your publication just doesn't have the marketshare necessary to survive. Without circulation size, how can you possibly expect to compete for advertising dollars?

It is all your fault because of the lack of a qualitative difference between you and your rivals (like ad flyers and junk-mail). It is obvious that both are that same thing; writing on paper, with words and phrases -- often trying to sell something. I can obviously pick up the local free "Recycler" or "Personals Pages" and get the same in-depth articles that your Newspaper offers, at a fraction of the cost. (All my friends tell me that the PennySaver is "as good" as your paper anyway, and we know that all those experts can't all be wrong. One of my friends even got a 350 on the verbal SAT!). So, with all this supporting evidence, why would anyone want to read your publication? Please don't write to complain, nor encourage your readership to do the same, you are just fanatics, zealots and dinosaurs that are too out-of-touch to realize your own imminent extinction. Please don't check the facts, as they are irrelevant to our conclusions.

More important is that your reader base is aging, and young audiences are not buying Newspapers the way they used to, making your future unclear. The facts show that your publication is financially unstable since the press strikes (and the invention of the Computer, Television, and Radio), and we know that you may not survive the loss of audience share to other media outlets.

[Publication name here] has just lost too much audience already to television journalism to survive. Obviously TV does a far more thorough job at reporting the news, since so many people prefer TV's reporting and exposé's to yours. Not to mention the cost difference -- can you honestly justify why readers should spend 50 cents on your publication when they can watch CNN or HardCopy for free? (Again, don't bother to reply or I'll just use your responses as proof of your childish temper tantrums against the inevitable).

Please don't complain about my campaign to destroy you (and your employer) with my explaining of these "facts", and encouraging everyone else to parrot your "imminent demise", thus resulting in it -- it is all for your own good, and the good of the industry. Think how much better the world will be with only one "standard" (and without choice). I am only reporting the facts and offering brilliant insight (by parroting what everyone else is saying, and quoting erroneous or irrelevant numbers and statistics).

Unless your publications becomes more popular, and drops its price to free (like your rivals), and offers the same cutting exposés as the tabloids or Jerry Springer, then I must advise people to steer clear. Everyone knows popular news is the best news - and you just haven't kept up with your rivals.


David K. Every
ex-reader, MacUser

P.S. The logic embodied in this letter is precisely the same reasoning that you (and others) have used in articles about the Macintosh. Perhaps now you better appreciate the flaws in that reasoning.

One wonders how reporters would like a taste of their own medicine. Intellectually, this is tit for tat.

The press claims that Apple is doomed because of dwindling marketshare, so we should claim the same for the press. The Press doesn't compare marketshare in Apple's markets, and instead wants to look at Apple against ALL computers (even if they are serving different needs) -- yet they don't compare Windows against all computers (like those in Microwave Ovens, Cars, and Blenders) because they realize (selectively) that it is a nonsensical comparison. So should we be as nonsensical and compare a Journalists words to anything else that is written? Since they can't compete with the readership of the Bible, they are obviously doomed.

I am obviously not concerned with papers marketshare. Marketshare is irrelevant. Who cares if there are more people watching T.V.? Different people and different markets. If Papers have enough circulation and readership, then they can get ad dollars and survive. Any paper would drool over a readership of 26 million (Apple's numbers), and could survive quite easily. But somehow Apple is doomed, despite having more marketshare than WinNT, which is a raging success.

Sadly, I've seen a huge drop in quality over the past few years. The media has become blatantly biased towards their advertisers. No where is this more obvious that in the "technology / computer" sections. Many otherwise respectable news organizations lose what remains of their heads when an advertiser calls and says - change your news. The effect has been negative press for competitors of the big three (Compaq, Intel, and Microsoft). While a reporter will (if competent) check facts very carefully about a politician, they often put spin on product reporting, and often do not understand the field they are reporting on. Even the Wall Street Journal and the New York Times will report verbatim off of a press release from a major computer manufacturer if that manufacturer has a record of large media buys with them. Some beleive it is a lack of integrity and trend towards complete commercialization of News-print (and the face of things to come) -- others just beleive that it is a complete lack of computer knowledge by the writers, which leads to being "duped" by their advertisers. Either way, it does not reflect well on the papers, and is probably why "Press-Bashing" is becoming such a popular sport.

Remember, the press ignores qualitative differences, and implies that Windows is "as good" or "good enough". So why don't we do the same back to them? Lets compare their words (in popularity) to something like bathroom wall poems, or to instruction manuals? Even if we just stick to trash journalism like the "Enquirer" or to "Teenager Magazine", what difference does it make? If quality does not matter, and "all words are created equal", then the journalists will not stand a chance of differentiation (just like Apple). We should basically tell them that a Pulitzer Prize winning writer has the same value to us as a Greeting Card Writer or those that make propaganda flyers for the KKK -- maybe then they will realize that Apple can not get a fair shake in their publications if you ignore the superiority of interface, reliability, and lifetime costs (as they do).

Special thanks to Steve Jackson, for the concept, and some of the content of this article.

Created: 06/25/98
Updated: 11/09/02

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