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Today's word on journalism

Monday, November 5, 2007

On Objectivity:

"I still insist that 'objective journalism' is a contradiction in terms. But I want to draw a very hard line between the inevitable reality of 'subjective journalism' and the idea that any honestly subjective journalist might feel free to estimate a crowd at a rally for some candidates the journalist happens to like personally at 2,000 instead of 612 -- or to imply that a candidate the journalist views with gross contempt, personally, is a less effective campaigner than he actually is."

-- Hunter S. Thompson, from Fear & Loathing: CORRECTIONS, RETRACTIONS, APOLOGIES, COP-OUTS, ETC., a 1972 memo to Rolling Stone editor Jann S. Wenner, excerpted in the current (November 2007) issue of Harper’s Magazine (Thanks to alert WORDster Andy Merton)

Sony's tumble from 'top dog' a long time coming

By Mack Perry

October 2, 2007 | It wasn't very long ago that multimedia conglomerate Sony held complete dominion over the video game industry.

The company's iron grip could easily be attributed to the fact that the Playstation 3's predecessors were two of the most successful video game consoles in the history of the medium. By taking advantage of the CD-ROM format while competitors relied on the dated storage capabilities of the cartridge, and securing the exclusivity of a bevy of popular franchises including the "Tekken," "Final Fantasy," and "Metal Gear" series, the original Playstation managed to dethrone Nintendo as the system of choice for both hardcore and casual gamers. And to say that the console's enduring follow-up has one of the largest and varied collections of triple-A titles to grace a game console is a vast understatement. The big bad corporation had trounced the smaller, more specialized gaming companies.

Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

When the Playstation 3 finally launched during the 2006 holiday season, the corporate dynamo dropped the ball. Big time. Despite popular demand and the claim that 400,000 units would be shipped, Sony did not meet their shipping quota and only 40 percent of that amount appeared in stores when the system was released.

But because the console's price tag was so high (more than $600 for the premium set) and the system lacked any noteworthy launch titles, the fact that there were fewer systems at launch didn't really seem to matter. With a growing library of critically acclaimed titles like "Gears of War" and "BioShock," the Xbox 360 became the system of choice for hardcore gamers while the innovative controls and the modest price of the Nintendo Wii insured the system's place as an accessible venue for more casual players.

And, nearly one year after launching, the Playstation 3 still does not have one killer app title or a respectable user base in order to realistically compete with Nintendo and Microsoft. And a recently mishandled price drop fake-out certainly hasn't helped matters.

Some would say, after a seemingly unending series of alienating public relations moves, that the defeat of this electronic empire was a long time coming. Ever since the Playstation 2 was first announced, Sony has developed a reputation for displaying extreme overconfidence in their company's success and exaggerating the features of their products. The company originally claimed the Playstation 2 would be capable of displaying visuals on par with Pixar's "Toy Story," a feat that it certainly did not live up to. This trend continued when the company began marketing the Playstation 3 and finally peaked when Jack Tretton, Sony's chief of operations, denied that the company made any mistakes during the launch and attributed customer backlash to people "creating stories" because the company hadn't "slipped up" yet.

Between the pricing of the Playstation 3, failing to provide enough units at launch, failing to deliver competitive software, and outright denying their mistakes, it would seem that the Sony's collective audaciousness may finally result in the company's undoing.


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