Or you could just ask them

In an uncharacteristic departure from his usually excellent reporting, Macworld’s Dan Frakes makes one of those bone-headed journalism mistakes that drive me crazy, and that epitomizes the problems with the Mac web.

In an Editor’s Notes blog posting entitled “Has Time Machine’s AirPort Disk use been grounded?,” Dan notes the fact that Apple has removed references to using hard drives connected to its AirPort Extreme Base Station from its online descriptions of Leopard’s new Time Machine application. Running through a list of what might cause Apple to remove AirPort support, Dan ends the post with this: “On Friday, we’ll at least know if the feature has been removed from Mac OS X 10.5.0.”

Why Friday? What’s wrong with right now? Why speculate when you can just shoot off a note to Apple and ask them? If they give an answer, stop speculating. If they say “no comment,” report it.

Journalists don’t wonder, they find out. They don’t speculate, they investigate. If online journalists want to be taken seriously (and they should want to), they need to start acting like journalists — even in blog posts.

And before you ask: Yes, I did contact Apple. The answer is no — Time Machine will not ship with support for AirPort Extreme.

You can stop wondering now.

8 Comments

  1. Oh yeah…welcome back. 🙂

  2. Oh yeah…welcome back. 🙂

  3. Chuck, why wonder why I didn’t ask Apple when you could just ask me? 😉

    I did ask, and got no response. But since it was just a quick blog entry, rather than a news item, and it hadn’t been that long since I had asked, I didn’t feel it was fair to Apple to say “Apple didn’t respond.” (We eventually did get a response; we included that info in our feature on Time Machine later in the week.)

    The blog entry was basically a way to give readers — who were asking the question frequently, and who were starting to buy drives to use with this previously-advertised feature so they’d be ready when their copy of Leopard arrived — a heads-up that the feature might not make it into the final version. Not much more we could say at that point, between NDAs, press embargoes, and the lack of an on-the-record response.

  4. Chuck, why wonder why I didn’t ask Apple when you could just ask me? 😉

    I did ask, and got no response. But since it was just a quick blog entry, rather than a news item, and it hadn’t been that long since I had asked, I didn’t feel it was fair to Apple to say “Apple didn’t respond.” (We eventually did get a response; we included that info in our feature on Time Machine later in the week.)

    The blog entry was basically a way to give readers — who were asking the question frequently, and who were starting to buy drives to use with this previously-advertised feature so they’d be ready when their copy of Leopard arrived — a heads-up that the feature might not make it into the final version. Not much more we could say at that point, between NDAs, press embargoes, and the lack of an on-the-record response.

  5. Hi, Dan —

    First: thanks so much for taking the time to read the post and even more so, for responding to it. I sincerely appreciate it.

    I think you know the answer to your question, but I’ll give mine anyway. 😉 Your piece reported on information that was unknown; mine was a critique on something that had been published. For you, that missing information was central to the article: will Leopard ship with AirPort support? For me, what mattered was what appeared in your article. What happened during the process of writing it wasn’t important — what reached your readers was.

    I think your rationale for wanting to get the article out and not wanting to say Apple refused to comment is perfectly reasonable. But unless you tell us as readers something, we have no way of knowing. To me, the answer would have been “Apple hasn’t responded to our questions yet, so for now, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

    As I hope I made clear in my post, I’m a big fan of yours, both for your thoroughness as a reporter and your skill as a writer. In fact, as we’ve discussed, you’ve impressed me since the “InformINIT” days of yore. I do think, though, that readers don’t make as big a distinction between an online article and a blog post as you may think, and that journalistic standards should be just that — standard — regardless of where they’re applied.

    Thanks again for your insights on this. Let’s continue the conversation at Macworld!

  6. Hi, Dan —

    First: thanks so much for taking the time to read the post and even more so, for responding to it. I sincerely appreciate it.

    I think you know the answer to your question, but I’ll give mine anyway. 😉 Your piece reported on information that was unknown; mine was a critique on something that had been published. For you, that missing information was central to the article: will Leopard ship with AirPort support? For me, what mattered was what appeared in your article. What happened during the process of writing it wasn’t important — what reached your readers was.

    I think your rationale for wanting to get the article out and not wanting to say Apple refused to comment is perfectly reasonable. But unless you tell us as readers something, we have no way of knowing. To me, the answer would have been “Apple hasn’t responded to our questions yet, so for now, we’ll just have to wait and see.”

    As I hope I made clear in my post, I’m a big fan of yours, both for your thoroughness as a reporter and your skill as a writer. In fact, as we’ve discussed, you’ve impressed me since the “InformINIT” days of yore. I do think, though, that readers don’t make as big a distinction between an online article and a blog post as you may think, and that journalistic standards should be just that — standard — regardless of where they’re applied.

    Thanks again for your insights on this. Let’s continue the conversation at Macworld!

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