Product hype disguised as news

I thought the editor of  The Times had lost his news sense when I first looked at the paper this morning.

The front page carries a dreary picture of Apple boss Steve Jobs, an unremarkable looking bloke in glasses, black sweater and blue jeans, plugging his company’s latest computer.

This might be good enough for the cover of a nerdish IT magazine but what is it doing here?

Inside, across two prime news pages, is more Apple propaganda – a product pitch for the latest iPad cunningly disguised as a news story, a favourable review and a human interest commentary about Mr Jobs and his medical problems.

All of which would have made a mildly interesting advertising feature, paid for by the computer company, and hidden away on page 132.

The commentary eulogised him as “a great salesman” who can “sell his devices in ridiculously overblown terms, yet still seem sincere”.  The word for this is “hype”.

The penny dropped when I noticed a discreet promotional piece about how subscribers to the Times have free access to its online edition and “our extraordinary iPad edition”.

So that’s what all this guff is about.