June 13, 2013
E3 And the Short Pants Press
At this week’s Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3), Sony and Microsoft previewed new systems, and so far Sony gets credit for undercutting Microsoft. There is a lot of buzz at this year’s show and it isn’t just tied to the fact that Sony’s PlayStation 4 will come in at $100 less than Microsoft’s Xbox One, if all is to be truly believed.
Debates are raging, battle lines are being drawn and news is blurring with commentary. This is par for the course because E3 is a show with a large contingent of “fan boys.” At E3 these part time bloggers, fan sites and citizen journalists make up the “Short Pants Press.”
At few trade shows will you find throngs of the press in shorts and t-shirts, simply because the press tends to dress the part of professional journalists. Perhaps there are exceptions, notably the Outdoor Retailer Show and Interbike, where attendees try out fitness equipment and the latter takes place in Las Vegas when the temperature outside is 105 in the shade.
E3 is just as button down as anything in the world of fitness; and at times it smells as a bad a group of cyclists coming back from a long ride. The difference with E3 is that the gamers only worked up a sweat from hours in front of a large panel TV.
The shows are similar in other ways, notably as you’ll find bare skin, tattoos and an attitude that this is about something fun. In other words, this is a “Short Pants Press” (SPP) type of trade show. At its core, there should be nothing really wrong with this fact, except for the fake that this particular branch of SPP tends to feel like they have a stake in this horse race.
At a trade show like CES — formerly the Consumer Electronics Show — the media might offer thoughts on what is the best TV, but there is no praise that Sony is wiser, smarter or deserves to win more than Samsung. At CES the press notes that new products are coming and highlights each company’s strong points. At Interbike, where the products are often used in actual races including the Tour de France, there is hardly this level of competition. The media doesn’t claim Trek is somehow more in gear than say rival Specialized.
At E3 this is different. Perhaps it is because the SPP is highly passionate about what they cover. But the bike industry SPP are no less passionate and, yet, understand that as an industry it is about watching the bottom line and reporting on it. The press shouldn’t be rooting for one company to succeed or fail.
At any press conference, a bold move is likely to get cheers, just as dumb moves will get jeers. At E3 the SPP show up at press conferences and it goes beyond cheering at times and resembles something out of George Orwell’s 1984 where people have a daily two minutes of hate.
Consider that business reporters — true business reporters — often disclose the shares they might own in a company, and are careful not to get too close to the story. At E3 the SPP isn’t exactly part of the, but the reporting often blurs with so much commentary that there almost appears that they, the SPP, have a stake in this. That (and the aforementioned smell, not to mention that this is one of the loudest trade shows) makes this one hard show to take seriously.
Perhaps if the press was a lot more serious in their reporting, and attire, it might go a long way.
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