The Union’s “augmented reality” reporting on augmented reality

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-7-27-02-pmThe Union has a conflict of interest in reporting on the County’s Economic Resource Council activities, because it is a paid subcontractor. Duh!

(The Union worker who now manages the County’s tourism website under that contract has another conflict going on, stating “I’m in” on a public Facebook post this week about getting involved in local Democratic party activism in the aftermath of the Presidential elections. Newspapers are supposed to have policies discouraging this kind of partisan behavior, as the New York Times does, but we’ll discuss this conflict in another post. It’s endless at The Union).

This post focuses on The Union’s “augmented reality” reporting on augmented reality — a mission of the Green Screen Institute,  whose leader is also the executive director of the County Economic Resource Council. The ERC has signed a multiyear contract with the County worth over $600,000 to promote economic development.

Earlier this month, The Union’s freelance writer  Lorraine Jewett (who could have her own conflict of interest on the horizon) gushed about Haptical, an online augmented reality publication/startup that is a “poster child” of the Institute. More details are HERE.

Lorraine’s writeup was a one-source article, something that serious journalist frown upon. It also raised some red flags for me. It began: “A Nevada County company that reports on the burgeoning virtual reality industry has been named one of the top 20 most influential businesses in augmented reality, according to Onalytica, an independent digital research company based in Britain.” Huh?

One of the “top 20 most influential businesses in augmented reality”? What does that mean? I took the time to download and read the report from Onalytica, which is an outfit that tries to sell “influencer programs” on the internet to customers. (I later got an email explaining this).

Here’s what an influential “brand” (it was not “business”) means, according to this outfit:

•The ranking is largely based on Twitter “tweets” that mention “augmented reality” or “augmentedreality,” according to the methodology. While Twitter — a popular internet firm but without a solid profit-making model — is one measure, it is only a small part of being a a truly “influential business.” That reputation takes years to build, earning respect from numerous places. Haptical’s “influencer score” was about 20.

•The term “influencer” is a moving target. “The key to successful influencer engagement comes down to whether your influencers are actually changing the’ behaviour’ (Onalytica is a London firm, hence the ‘u’ in ‘behavior’) or actions of your target audience as opposed to simply re-publishing content on the Internet.”

•Review the other “influencers” on the list (see chart); they are not household names.

The report is here: onalytica-augmented-reality-top-100-influencers-and-brands

To be sure, I hope the Green Screen Institute can succeed. And I wish Haptical the best in this burgeoning market.

But The Union needs to dig deeper in its own reporting to accurately inform the people in our towns. It needs to provide context. What is Lorraine’s experience as a tech reporter?

For comparison using this metric, I looked up CNET, where I was a founding editor. Its “influencer score” was a solid 100, at the top of the list for “Connected Home.” We were a startup when I joined; later we went public and years later sold CNET to CBS for nearly $2 billion.

We moved up here for the lifestyle, and its proximity to Lake Tahoe and the great outdoors. I mention this background, because outfits like Haptical face an uphill battle. I know; I’ve been there.

Let’s hope The Union shows more expertise in explaining the ERC and Green Screen Institute initiative to our towns, rather than the pablum (AKA bland intellectual fare) it is offering now. It is podunk.

Author: jeffpelline

Jeff Pelline is a veteran editor and award-winning journalist - in print and online. He is publisher of Sierra FoodWineArt magazine and its website Jeff covered business and technology for The San Francisco Chronicle for years, was a founding editor and Editor of CNET News, and was Editor of The Union, a 145-year-old newspaper in Grass Valley. Jeff has a bachelor's degree from UC Berkeley and a master's from Northwestern University. His hobbies include sailing and trout fishing.

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