Apple’s PR ‘problem’ is media self-entitlement

Bracketing Apple’s announcement of OS X Mountain Lion last week was a blog post and a newspaper report from two different sources, both with a common theme – Apple’s supposed treatment of press outlets that run stories which don’t reflect Apple’s best interests. What’s apparent is not that Apple is doing anything out of turn – it’s that some journalists and bloggers have an enormously inflated sense of self-entitlement.

Example one is Jason O’Grady, ZDNet blogger and owner of O’Grady’s PowerPage, a one-time influential blog focused on the Mac. O’Grady has had a contentious relationship with Apple for many years, since the company took him to court for his site’s involvement in the leak of an internal project code-named “Asteroid.”

O’Grady unsuccessful attempts to obtain information about an issue related to the recent controversy surrounding social network Path and its use of Address Book data spurred him to pen a blog piece entitled Apple PR’s dirty little secret, in which O’Grady suggested that Apple is disinclined to cooperate with or offer information to publications that don’t play nice with them.

Is this really a surprise to anyone with a lick of common sense? Apple – and any other company, for that matter – has every right to control the message about new products, and if you’ve proven yourself to be a liability in the past, it shouldn’t be any surprise that you’re persona non grata. O’Grady’s piece is little more than sour grapes at being left out in the cold.

Erik Wemple at The Washington Post picked up the torch late Thursday with his blog piece Apple and the New York Times not meshing. Wemple doesn’t have his own dirty laundry to air. Instead, he suggests that Apple has left the New York Times out in the cold following the recent publication of articles critical of Apple supplier Foxconn’s working conditions – articles that have been echoed in the mainstream media and the blogosphere in the weeks since they ran, which may have provoked Apple to earlier this week announce efforts to audit Foxconn and other Apple suppliers using the Fair Labor Association, or FLA.

With Mountain Lion’s introduction, it wasn’t the Times that Apple CEO Tim Cook spoke to, it was the Wall Street Journal. The Times was left to stock PR quotes to fill out its story. The Journal, Kempel notes, is owned by the same company that owns AllThingsD, the Web site run by Walt Mossberg, who frequently is pre-briefed on Apple products and has, in the past, hosted Steve Jobs on the stage of AllThingsD events. Wemple implies guilt by association.

But Wemple’s claim that the New York Times was left out of the Mountain Lion news cycle falls flat. Wemple only mentions Times columnist David Pogue’s preview of Mountain Lion in passing. Yet Pogue himself noted in his first look at Mountain Lion that he had been using it for a week. This tacitly confirms that Pogue was briefed at the same time as everyone else who was let in on Apple’s secret ahead of time – which John Gruber of Daring Fireball confirmed. So much for Apple turning its back on the Times.

That Apple is managing the flow of information about new products is not news. Apple is no different from any other company in this respect, and if you think otherwise, you’re deluding yourself.

[Editor’s note, 2/20 3:21 PM ET: Updated to reflect Jason O’Grady’s research on Address Book, not Mountain Lion, as previously reported.]