Buying Good Press

Jeff Saginor is bothered by the $1,299 gift bag that Google gives away free to attendees of its annual Google I/O conference:

[T]his year at I/O, Google upped the ante, giving everyone in attendance a Chromebook Pixel—a laptop running Google’s own operating system, retailing for $1,299. It’s the equivalent of Apple handing everyone a MacBook Pro on the way out the door. It made headlines across the web. And it’s everything that’s wrong with tech reporting.

Technology events are not giveaways for Oprah’s favorite things—journalists don’t get to go home with bags full of expensive toys and then pretend to critically cover the companies that bribe them. As James Temple explains in The San Francisco Chronicle, tech writers will “tell you they’re routinely offered pricey gift baskets and all manner of smart phones, software, tablets and computers, often with no obligation to return or write about them.” And last year, Brad Stone of Businessweek wrote that reporters at a Spotify launch party in San Francisco were treated to $300 bottles of tequila as parting gifts. It happens constantly. Of course most reporters don’t accept the gifts. But the casual relationship undermines the nature of serious technology reporting.