Update: Title change explained below.
Apple gives special early access to a small number of favored reporters, among them David Pogue at the NY Times and Walt Mossberg at the Wall Street Journal. I'm sure both Mossberg and Pogue would swear that this consistent early access doesn't buy Apple favorable press, and perhaps they believe that, but I don't.
At TechCrunch, Devin Coldewey says the race to get reviews out first keeps the truth from getting out until Apple products are in users' hands. There's some truth to this, but it's not the whole truth. The desire to be favored by Apple certainly keeps the reporters and their reports friendly.
It's a really good time not just to clean up the way Apple explains their products, but also to root out the game of footsie the tech press, and that includes people who call themselves bloggers, plays with Apple and to a lesser extent, other vendors.
On Friday Apple will hold a special press conference about the iPhone 4. Prehaps they expect to turn to their friends the reporters to help them clean up this mess. And maybe the reporters will play along, and a fresh series of puff pieces will come out saying it's much ado about not very much. And maybe if all that happens, this time, it'll just blow over. Or perhaps the reporters, sensing that reality is distorted differently now, will try to represent the interests of their users, and to hell with access -- and cover the story the way it presents itself, not the way Apple wants it to be presented.
It's better, imho, long-term, for Apple to insist on the independence of the press, and it's certainly best that the press be independent and represent the interests of their readers, and not the industry. If it doesn't happen now, it will happen soon.
Update: Some people say Mossberg caught the iPhone 4 problems in his review. I don't see it that way, for a number of reasons -- but I'll yield, and have changed the title of the piece. The point isn't about these two specific authors. It's why do we always wait to get the bad news about products until after the reviewers get their hands on it. There's no argument in this case that the initial story about the iPhone 4 was "great stuff, game-changer, Apple rules." Turns out the real story was quite a bit different. And I'm more writing this piece for the rest of us who aren't inside, to remind us to wait until a few weeks after rollout before deciding whether a product is fit for the masses.