To Digit India: What are the editors doing?

The background:

I read a lot of technology-related news on a daily basis, from multiple international sources. I follow the big news religiously and wait for launches. I lust to buy the best of the products, and I can’t get tired of learning more and more about technology.

I was introduced to the world of technology because of my father, who has a degree in computer science. Since I was a kid, I have had a computer at my home and have spent time fiddling with it ever since.

My first exposure to the world of technology, beyond the PC, was this magazine called Digit that is published from Mumbai. It is one of the best magazines available in the market, and had been my favorite for a long time.

All that changed a year or 2 ago after I could see the quality of the articles deteriorating. It hurt, and since then I decided not to renew my subscription when it ends in 2014.

When I read this news article in the October issue of Digit, I was beyond angry. To me, that’s not how a technology publication approves the posts its authors write. It’s the responsibility of the editor/editorial team to go through every article that is to be published to make sure it is factually correct. This article, wasn’t.

The Article in question:

Now, Digit doesn’t have an e-book of the magazine. I wrote to them about the article titled ‘The iPhone 5S: What we don’t like’. The following are the places you can read the article about which I wrote:

1) Their website: It has an post which is a bit different from the one published (different sub-headings, among other changes).

2) The scanned copy: I don’t have a very awesome scanner, so bear with me.

3) The photograph: It’s a very clear photograph, so yeah.

 

My response, the e-mail:

To: editor@thinkdigit.com, agent001@thinkdigit.com

Hello there, Mr. Editor.
I’ve been reading Digit for the last 10-11 years, and I have every issue of Digit ever published stashed at my home, in some or the other storage compartment. I owe my initial exposure to technology and the constant advancements in the same field to Digit.
But lately, since the last 2 years, I have been thoroughly disappointed with the quality of the articles that are published and how biased and/or agreeing-with-the-popular-opinion the stories are, rather than being brutally factual. So much so that, earlier this year I decided not to renew my subscription which ends sometime in 2014. That’s saying something since I’ve been a fan ever since I started reading, and I’ve been a collector who has every copy/CD/DVD you’ve ever published.
What makes me write this to you is a story published on page 91 of the October 2013 issue titled ‘The iPhone 5s: What we don’t like’, by Sameer Mitha.Yup, I get where your thoughts take you, ‘He’s just a pissed off fan boy.’ But I request you to read the following as sincerely and without making any judgements already as you can.
The things I really think are factually incorrect:
1) The camera: The first line says, ‘We are now in the era of Ultrapixels’. What era would that be, considering Ultrapixels is just a marketing gimmick by HTC and no industry-standard? And which world do we live in that the ‘megapixel’ wars still matter? Isn’t such a dumb criterion for measurement of performance of a camera exactly what Digit should be educating the readers against?
The point of mobile photography isn’t how huge (in size and resolution, both) the photograph is, but how well the hardware and the software interplay to make the image better. The advancements in the hardware of the 5s’ camera, the A7, and iOS 7 make it a better camera than most others mentioned in that section. Without any sorts of a hands-on (it hasn’t been mentioned that you’ll had one, it explicitly says, from announcements) how fair is it to say that the 5s’ camera doesn’t stand up to the HTC One, Sony Xperia Z1, or the Nokia Lumia 1020?
I’ve been reading so many travel and sports photographers saying they’re incredibly impressed with the 5s’ camera, enough to ditch their DSLRs (examples here, here, and here), and Digit is misleading the reader by saying it doesn’t compare, only on terms of raw specs? Isn’t that wrong? I was a reader who was misled by raw specs. It’s only recently that I have understood how little the specs matter and how much more it is about the services and how they integrate with the OS. I would’ve wished Digit told me the truth about this, but it didn’t and still doesn’t.
2) No NFC: This is a joke, right? NFC is so mainstream in the US (I’m not even going to talk about how popular it is in India) that not having NFC in the 5s makes it a stupid phone? Google Wallet is less popular than Square. AirDrop (why hasn’t this been mentioned anywhere) is as fast, if not faster, than NFC and easier to use. All the accessories that use NFC would’ve rather used BT-LE only if Google had added support for it earlier. And there’s no claim saying that wireless charging is only possible if you have NFC, not otherwise.
‘Why can’t Apple just go mainstream and adopt NFC?’ Why does Apple have to adopt a proven failure of a standard? Just because after Apple adopts it, it will become mainstream?
3) Not weatherproof: Let me get this straight, a Samsung phone which rigs benchmarks, is made of slippery sucky plastic, sells for 40k INR, and isn’t weatherproof (don’t point me to the Active, it isn’t the flagship) and looks awful, cuts it to your top 3 Android phones to buy?
Just as you can spend some more cash and get the S4 Active, you can get the necessary treatment done to your iPhone 5s. For the needs of the few, why should Apple add such an not so necessary ‘feature’ to its phones? I agree it’d be great to have it, but it won’t be (or at least shouldn’t be) a deal-breaker to anyone who is going to buy the phone. And what about Apple’s great service which replaces your iPhone, when you screw it up? Would you even be entertained in a Sony, Nokia, Samsung store without a copy of the bill? I know I haven’t been, in all the three.
I get where the Apple-bashing comes from. It scores the brownie points among most of those who read your magazine and won’t be buying an iOS because Android can do so very much, and is so open, and so versatile, and can share files over Bluetooth, and what not. I get that it’s great for people to read the flaws of what they can’t afford, too, just to make them feel better. And I also get that those who will be buying an iOS device will buy it regardless of what you say about it. But, either ways, it doesn’t seem right to me that you give up on your integrity of presenting nothing but the truth to the reader.
Populist media encroaching on informative and honest media is sad. I did trust you and your reviews with almost all of my technology-related buying decisions. And now, when I revisit some articles that I’ve read over the last few months, I can see how Digit has changed (and that’s not in a good way).
Going mainstream is good. Having more readers is better. But, letting go of your values as a publication to gain traction, isn’t. And realizing that such a miserably written and deluding article got through the Editor’s office, makes me wonder if the quality of content is still a priority at Digit.
Of course, all of this doesn’t mean it’s all bad. I still love the comparison tests, the Bazaar, the Droolmaal among other things. And your cover long-read stories are a delight.
Here’s hoping that this email of mine can be helpful in correcting these things in the future issues. If things change and get better, count my subscription in for a few more years. If not, wish you the very best, with whatever your plans are.
A one time fan, and now disappointed reader.
Enjoy!
Take care.
-Setu Shah
(http://setu.me/)

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Setu

Dreamer, but subdued... Believer, but atheist... Writer, but not a reader... Listener, but not a whiner... That's me... That's Setu for you!

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