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iPad, therefore I am: When does news become advertising?

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Rajan Datar | 12:01 UK time, Friday, 5 February 2010

"iPad, therefore I am", as the philosopher Descartes might have said, if he had been around today and into all things sleek, cool and techie

The launch of this half-way house between a netbook and an iPhone was certainly treated by parts of the media with a reverence normally bestowed on breakthroughs in Middle East peace negotiations - or at the very least, like a new collaboration from the Beatles, Michael Jackson and Elvis.

Well, to technophobes like me, it felt like that, anyway.


Steve Jobs: a master of hype. Is the BBC falling for it? Picture: Getty Images

And it seems Digital Planet on the World Service tried to take an equally sceptical approach until the sheer weight of media hype and tweets from Apple fans persuaded them otherwise. And the reason for their reticence was an awareness that the line between journalism and product promotion is very blurred in the digital world.

I discuss this on this week's Over To You with the presenter of Digital Planet, Gareth Mitchell. It's very difficult for him, as he admits, to ignore the arrival of any big launch from the likes of Apple - or Microsoft for that matter - firstly because the PR spin is so brilliantly executed by Steve Jobs (the CEO of Apple) et al, and secondly because it feels like the rest of the world is talking about it... including mainstream news programmes like Newshour on the World Service.

The BBC has compliance rules when it comes to mentioning branded products, so it takes care on issues like this.

So what do you think?

Is the media putty in the hands of companies like Apple? Where do you draw the line? What counts as news and what, however inadvertently, counts as advertising?

Obama drama

Also on this week's programme there's more fallout from the Opposing Obama series. Not just the trails now but the programmes themselves - although these are attracting praise as well as criticism.

And next week we'll be talking to someone closely involved in the making of Gary Younge's examination of antipathy towards the US President. So tell us what you think, if you've heard the documentaries.

Global Minds

And a happy story on this week's programme as we deal with blind listener Petr Parisek's complaint that the Global Minds survey conducted by the World Service seemed to exclude his participation.

We talk to the Global Minds Senior Research Manager, Jennie Sallows - someone who can fix problem for Petr, and does so.

So if there's anything we can help you with...

Rajan Datar is the Presenter, Over To You

Over To You is your chance to have your say about the BBC World Service and
its programmes. It airs at 10:40 and 23:40 every Saturday, and at 
02:40 on Sunday (GMT). 


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