Tech reporting has become more negative
Technology reporting has become more negative in the past 30 years, focusing more on the harmful effects, according to a study by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation.
The study reviewed tech coverage in the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal from 1986 to 2013.
The report, written by Doug Allen and Daniel Castro, states:
In the late 1980s, in particular, there was a notable focus on the economic opportunities afforded by the developing technology sector and its offerings. However, that tone has gradually shifted over the years, with more articles highlighting the potential ill effects of technology: its displacement of face-to-face interaction, its role in environmental degradation, its threat to employment, and its failure to live up to some of the promises made on its behalf.
The findings also indicate that positive and negative claims are more likely to be associated with certain segments of society than others. Claims about the potentials of technology and their associated benefits are more likely to come out of the private sector, while claims about the potential problems are more likely to come from actors in civil society and government.
Overall, the business sector is most frequently quoted making claims about technology, and positive claims from the business sector outnumber the negative ones more than 2-to-1. Both the government and the press are just on the positive side of equivalence, with slightly more than one positive claim for each negative claim. Both academics and civil society actors are most often quoted as naysayers, with concern about the risks of technology outweighing the optimism.
There are a number of possible explanations for the less favorable media portrayal of technology over time. One possibility is that there is something about the nature of technological innovation in the last decade or so that has been inherently more problematic than technological innovation was in the 1980s and early 1990s. Since the purpose of journalism is to examine important issues, developments, and trends with a critical eye, a change in the nature of technology would likely create a shift in coverage.
The report can be read here.