All over the world, the establishment media is doing it tough. Newspapers and other “old media” are closing, many media forms are converging, editorial jobs are being slashed, and quality journalism is fast being overrun by sensationalism. The media is being forced to adapt to a changing environment. They are struggling to attract new revenue streams as old stalwarts have abandoned them. The quest for money has overtaken the quest for important stories. So, against this backdrop, the question then is, how can the media afford to give Apple so much coverage?

With the release of the iPhone 5 yesterday, there has been wall-to-wall coverage by every organization, on every platform. Everywhere I have looked today, I have been confronted with the story. It is often displayed prominently, undoubtedly taking the place of other prominent stories, or even paid advertisements. So called “experts” have been call on, beautiful graphics have been created and displayed, new specifics have been hashed and rehashed, and entire sections of the extravagant unveiling have been played. Because of all of this attention, and despite not having visited any apple related websites or seen any paid commercials, I am now awfully familiar with the new specs of the new phone and how it compares to its competitors and predecessors. But most news companies will not see a single cent for this. They will not be reimbursed for the journalists they sent to the unveiling, for the people they paid to write copy, and the airtime they devoted to covering it. They will not be reimbursed for the Tweets and Facebook space they wasted; they will not be reimbursed for the cost of the “experts” they brought on. They will get nothing, and Apple has gotten everything.

How can media companies do this? How can they square their shift towards mediocrity, with this overwhelming (free) advertising campaign for one of the worlds biggest companies? A company that can more than pay for commercials along with everyone else. Surely if media companies only charged Apple for the overwhelming coverage they are getting they could afford to put on real journalism. Surely they could afford to actually function like a news organization. This is news people want, and Apple can afford to pay. If news companies want to find a revenue stream for the future, they need to stop shilling for free.