Microsoft Co-opts Media At Elite Technology Summit

Microsoft sponsored an invitation-only executive summit this week to talk about the future of technology with 115 Very Important CEOs at its corporate headquarters in Redmond. It even included some media stars, but don't expect to learn very much beyond the usual corporate hype.

That's because the invited media stars like predictable N.Y. Times columnist Thomas Friedman, avuncular TV personality Charlie Rose and shrill CNBC anchor Maria Bartilomo are not know for their reporting skills. They are basically non-threatening conversationalists, authors and news readers who would never dirty their nails (and upset their hosts) by doing something impolite like actually breaking a news story from the event. Seattle Times journalist Brier Dudley has an excellent blog entry highlighting this issue.

Face it, in business and technology (much like in politics) when the media elite cozies up to the business elite, the public interest suffers. The rest of us would love to know what 100 of the world's most powerful business leades have to say about the future of technology. So far, all we're seen is Microsoft PR hype such as Bill Gates demonstrating the company's touchwall technology. Yawn. I'm not really sure if the problem is with Microsoft or with the journalists who forget (assuming they ever learned) what true journalism is. These people appear much more interested buddying up to their hosts and re-enforcing their own self-importance than they are informing the public about what is going on at an event of compelling interest. 

So let's see: We have 100 corporate leaders; a discussion about the future of technology (perhaps the most strategic business on the planet today); and the erstwhile journalist community. Maybe someone could break a real news story? Maybe next year Microsoft could invite some college journalism interns who could do some heavy lifting for the media personalities.

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