What does being the "Official Blog Partner" of CES actually mean?

Engadget has been selected as the "Official Blog Partner" of CES. TechCrunch, among others, are viewing it less as a prize awarded to Engadget and more like a penalty against Gizmodo for the stunt it pulled last year.

It's impossible to understand from the press release if extra access is to be granted to Engadget, but I have a hard time there's all that much more access to grant. They're a big outlet for consumer electronics news these days — any access they don't get to see products or talk to executives is due only to foolishness on the part of the companies they cover. It's an odd announcement, but similar to most regarding CES (such as the awards): meaningless and serving only to promote the announcement itself.

There's something slightly uncomfortable about a media organization being an official partner with a trade organization, but we're talking gadget coverage here, which like its cousin "games journalism" is inexorably bound to the companies whose products are covered. It's all a sticky mess — made worse by the fact that the "rewritten press release" form of blogging is actually what most of the audience actually wants to read. I don't think it's that big of a deal, but only because the entire industry just isn't that important.

Which is not to say congratulations are not in order. It's pretty incredible that in just four or five years since inception Engadget has gone from a couple of puckish guys hustling around the tradeshow floor to a sanctioned, official outlet of CES. It's a meaningless honor, perhaps, but one that is the product of a lot of hard work.

Update: Engadget contacted me to make sure I understood that there is no extra access granted to the CES show by CEA nor any money exchanging hands. It's just a co-promotional endeavor. Fair enough! If I were in their shoes, I would probably do the same thing.

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13 Comments

  1. Does this mean that tomorrow, Infomercia has always been at war with -Gizmoldovia-; and -Engasia- is its ally?

  2. I used to love reading Gizmodo but after the stunt they pulled last year, I stopped visiting their site. I know it was funny, hilarious even, but I’ve been on the other side working months to build a demo in hopes of improving sales. To suffer a prank like that when it could mean my livelihood, sorry, for me that’s too far.

    Hopefully this means Engadget will have a little more interesting information beyond their prepondurance of laptops and cell phones.

  3. @#3 Anon: Me, too. I actually blog about tech for a very small blog, and what the Giz guys did not only was super mean-spirited, but it also put my own press pass for ’09 in jeopardy. CES had already taken the step of separating the bloggers from the “journalists” (the journo room last year was much more nicely appointed than the blog pit), and now I fear that they’re going to cut access to less established outlets like mine.

    It’s tough b/c Gizmodo often has early access to those press releases that I need to rewrite for my own site, as per JJ’s astute comment, but I just had to make myself stop reading their snarky crap.

  4. Oh it’s a Tuesday… Wow this is so sad Joel, sorry to say but get back to writing about gadgets and don’t whine about how others have done well.

    It’s a sponsorship / promotional title, that’s how business works that’s how the world works.

    1. Maurik, I don’t know what part of “congratulations” you want to interpret as whining. But thanks for telling me how the world works. That’s super useful.

    1. That would be amazing, Rob. A little badge we could award on posts. Achievements for the user page a la Xbox Live. “So Over It ’08” leads to “So Over ‘So Over It ’08′” and so on.

  5. it seems less of an honor for Engadget and more a dig at Gizmodo for last year’s stunt. banning them from the show would have generated some negative publicity, so rewarding their main competitor was the next best thing.

  6. I’d thought about commenting on this news on Giz, but there was no way to make this not sound like sour grapes. In fact, I’d reject such a proposition on the grounds of it being a pretty obvious conflict of interest. But JJ is right — there is a certain aspect of this which is great for Engadget. If you’re craving respect from the industry that shoves devices down the gullets of consumers, this is quite an award.

  7. I think it’s that’s the part of it that unnerves me, too. We all know and understand the compromise we’re all involved in writing about this stuff, but there’s still a certain limit to how far one can embrace it.

    If it was an advertising deal, it would be easier for me to grok just as the daily business of blogging. It’s the vague “official outlet of the CE industry” nature of the appointment is what makes it a bit odd. What’s the point of accepting it without sponsorship?

    One good answer, of course, is “to prove blogs have won.”

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