Sorry, the ‘Intel Sticker Guy’ Question is Idiotic …

Alright, idiotic might be a bit harsh but for someone who alledgely has business reporting & technology reporting experience, however, the dumb question he posed shows an appalling lack of knowledge of not just Apple Computers but the concepts behind branding AND the history of the personal computer market since the 1990’s.

In case you missed it, Bob Keefe’s question and follow up blog post was to ask why doesn’t Apple put Intel stickers on its Macs.

On its most basic level – it does show a complete disregard for the history of Apple Computers and frankly, an embarrassing glimpse into his lack of knowledge for the industry as a whole. If CoxNews sent to him to cover the auto industry, would he ask Ferrari why they don’t make a 2-door coupe for under $10k … or if he covered gardening, would he ask the agriculture secretary of Alaska why they don’t plant bananas?

This is at the SAME news conference where the company introduces a new keyboard where one of the differences is the REMOVAL of the company’s logo on the keyboard – guess it’s hard to add 1+1 together? Was he spending that time in his hotel room crafting his one question and pre-writing his blog lead? This is a company that presents everything as minimally as possible and has never included a third-party app on the desktop or the dock? This is a company that thinks an actual keyboard detracts from the use of a phone so it’s virtual?

He even points out in his blog post that companies pay the PC manufacturers a few bucks per computer because it’s a commodity, margins are low and they will need that extra few bucks to tie them over.

If he actually bothered to learn the industry or look at Apple’ financial numbers, he would understand the PC as a commodity business is the EXACT opposite of Apple’s approach to the marketplace.

And while, we might lose him here in the next paragraphs because they require some in-depth knowledge about the industry he covers … the very reason the PC manufacturers are in a commodity business is that they turned over their branding to Intel.

It was brilliant on Intel’s part. Give us the last 5 seconds of your ad and we’ll pay you 10% back as an advertising “rebate.” Sure, sounds good on the surface but the long term implications is that the ONLY THING consumers remember is INTEL.

(and the ding).

Great for Intel. Consumers started going into computer stores and ask for the Intel. They’re not exactly sure what that means or that Intel makes the microprocessor, they just know that means it’s the “best” PC – after all, everyone from Sony to IBM to Dell to Compaq to HP has the Intel logo and the ‘ding’.

By selling off their own ads and their own computers by stickering them with MSFT Windows and later Intel logos and marks, what they did was diminish their own brand to just a vague morass – and leaving consumers to remember two names, Microsoft and Intel.

The end result is this is the impression consumers saw, interpreted and remembered:

a) every manufacturer promised their was the best – ultimately leaving no impression.
b) we’re the low, low price leader, buy today – now on sale – again, no branding, just look for the price.

And what closed each ad? Intel. And the ding. Like Pavlov’s dogs.

Then on top of that, Intel did a decade full of memorable ads – first touting multimedia, surfing the internet, etc at breakneck speeds (well, it was a vast over-promise but it looked good) and then they even made clean-room suits look cool (the “bunny” ads).

And what closed each ad? Intel And the ‘ding’.

So, you had hundreds of millions dollars spent on PC manufacturer ads that ended with the Intel logo.

And you had hundreds of millions of dollars spent by Intel on branding ads that ended with the Intel logo.

Great for Intel.

But not so much for Gateway, eMachines, Compaq, HP, Dell, etc … of course they needed the $10-$20 from each PC sold with a dozen stickers, they sold their brand for that amount plus the money they took from Intel … which ironically, the more ads they ran to differentiate themselves from another PC manufacturer, the MORE they branded Intel and told consumers –


It’s not outside the box you should look for – but rather what’s on the INSIDE.

So, what was the only deciding factor left for consumers?


Intel doesn’t care if the manufacturers price of retail box PC is $399 or $1,299 – they make exactly the same.

They don’t really care what brand you buy as long as you buy a PC with their chip in it.

So, does Apple advertise by price?

Does Apple advertise that it’s a commodity?

Or is their basic branding message that they are “different” – that they are a Mac?

So, when Bob Keefe of CoxNews really, really doesn’t get something – he really, really doesn’t understand. In fact, everyone’s initial reaction is entirely correct but his question is dumb on the surface AND still dumb when you probe and research underneath it.

It’s literally laughably dumb* and yet also appalling in that it’s utter simplistic viewpoint of the world of business – a throughly & complete lack of understanding of marketing, branding, and the computer industry since 1990.

Having never met Bob Keefe, I’m sure he’s a fine person but as someone who presumably calls himself a journalist, he needs to do a little research before just blurting something out that really puts himself & “CoxNews” in a bad light.

So, I’m sure he’s not an idiot but frankly, it’s hard to excuse & defend a question that is idiotic on many levels.

Of course, fellow journalists feel bad for him and that’s understandable – we can all have bad days but as with his blog post, it’s clear he had already written the lead for his blog post and the dumb question was not just a brain freeze but simply because he wanted an official “counter-point” comment from Apple to fill in the “other side” of the “issue” because he thinks stickers are just stickers.

For a three year kid, stickers are just stickers … but this is a complex issue that seems to have escaped the blurter of the question on every level.

* Audio clip from MacUser.


Filed under Advertising, Apple, Apple Mac, Computing, Financial, Gadgets, Internet, Marketing, Media, Retail

23 responses to “Sorry, the ‘Intel Sticker Guy’ Question is Idiotic …

  1. Yer man

    TIZMANIAN: Sounds like you work over at Cox, dude. Relax.

  2. zato

    Very good article.

  3. BobM

    Remember, not all Cox news readers are steeped in Apple lore and history. Regardless of how ignorant you think Keef’s question was, he got his readers a great quote from Steve Jobs about Apple’s design and marketing philosophy.

    To me, this is preferable to some pundit expounding on his or her assumptions about Apple, and in the end, it’s good journalism.

    (METROXING: If you had read the piece, it’s not about Apple lore but basic marketing strategy as a BUSINESS & TECHNOLOGY writer that he either doesn’t understand or doesn’t chooses not to understand).

  4. BobM

    Did you read his piece? He makes the point that aside from Apple, all the major PC makers participate in the advertising program, whether they put stickers on their PC’s or not. It follows then that his readers might want to know why, and Jobs gave a great explanation.

    Certainly, you can quibble with the quality of his story, and you can argue that he could have included some analysis, as you did, about the effects on the OEM’s of participating in the program, but he did get quotes from Dell and AMD that alluded to the issue of the stickers and branding.

    Remember, the first part of Keefe’s question asked why Apple didn’t participate in the program. The second part (in effect, it was two questions) mentioned the stickers.

    You might have noticed that Keefe got quotes from six other people for his story as well. That’s what reporters, unlike pundits…er, bloggers, do. They ask questions to let the actual players in the story explain things to the readers. They’re the public’s proxy, asking questions that they think their readers want to know about. In this case, Keefe’s readers aren’t necessarily the same as the Apple Nation. That hardly makes him an idiot.

    (METROXING: I never called him an idiot. I called his question idiotic and I explained clearly why I thought so. This has NOTHING to do with being an Apple fan or not (which I would happily admit to), this was a question that either showcased his lacked of knowledge or was to fulfill what he presumed was his obligation as a journalist – to get an “opposing” quote but is that all there is to journalism? The example I mentioned was do we really to ask Ferrari why they don’t sell a 2-door coupe for 10k? – is that journalism to you? By that measure, does he hold his Michael Vick dog fighting story to wait for a quote from Michael Vick? The problem with Keefe’s feature was he either didn’t understand the implications of the sticker program or didn’t care because it would’ve meant more work. What were the reprecussions of the Intel’s stickers program? To Keefe, there was none or not worthy to follow through – it was only about getting $20 and why doesn’t Apple stand in line for $20? Why don’t I drive down to the food shelter and get all my meals there? Do I need to really explain?)

  5. ..and just to add to Bob’s point above, none of your claims above has any source. A lot, I’d contend, just comes straight off the top of your head.

    That don’t work in the hard, hard world of journalism.
    Editor: “Why does this story of yours say that it’s obvious why Apple doesn’t use stickers? Didn’t you ask Steve Jobs? Didn’t you go to the press conference?”
    You: “Sure, I went but everyone knows why.”
    Editor: “You didn’t ask why?”
    You: “Everyone..”
    Editor: “No, *I* don’t know why. And I don’t know why Steve Jobs doesn’t do it because you didn’t ask him. Get your coat and get out.”

    And besides, the reason PCs are commodities isn’t Intel – after all, AMD has a chunk of the market. It’s Windows. Pretty much all PCs sold at retail run Windows. Factor that into your logic and try again.

    (METROXING: I’m not a journalist, nor do I claim to be – that is the difference. I am clearly stating an opinion based on knowledge and research. He is stating an opinion based on neither and claiming to be a journalist. I clearly state the reasons why for my conclusions. If the concepts regarding the commodization of the PC market which even the companies themselves now realize the reprecussions of – why many are pulling back from the Intel/Windows placement program – escape you for now, that’s fine but the issue is more complex than you think).

  6. Bob Keefe wasn’t stating an opinion. He was asking a question.

    His question wasn’t like the Ferrari/$10,000 question. It would be more like Exxon having a scheme whereby if Ferrari fill up with it and recommend it and have a sticker, their car advertising costs are subsidised. Then you could ask: why don’t they do it?

    And as to your point about PC makers being subsidised while Apple makes non-commodity profits: how much profit precisely does Apple make from its computers division? (That is, not sales of iPods or software or iPhones or other bric-a-brac)? You think it’s all so obvious, but I think you’ll find the balance sheets and cash flow less easy to interpret than you pretend above.

    (METROXING: No, his question wasn’t an opinion but his blog post was. Your sticker question doesn’t work in the same context as my question because no oil company offers such a sticker program however if they did – and most of the cars on the road had such stickers (I drive a Buck and I recomend Valero!) …

    Apple has broken out the computer division since 2004 (originally the iPod division was folded in). I believe Apple’s last losing quarter was sometime in 2000. If you scroll down from this Yahoo Finance page, you can see results broken out not just by computer division but desktops & laptops. In the conference call, they also break down margins by product line so the math is there. But that’s really not relevant as Bob Keefe HIMSELF points how the reason Pc manufacturers take the rebate/subsidy is because they are in a commodity business and margins are thin unlike Apple’s overall margins of around 28-35%.)

  7. BobM

    A story about Michael Vick and dog fighting isn’t analogous to Keefe’s story about Apple’s marketing, but to answer your question, if I were working on a story about Michael Vick and dog fighting, and I had a chance to ask him what he thought was happening at the house, I’d sure try. Who knows what he’d say?

    Like I said, you can certainly argue about the merits of Keefe’s story, but in that context, getting a quote from Jobs makes a lot of sense. I say kudos to him for having the balls to ask it. The fact remains, he got a good answer from someone who is legendarily recalcitrant with the press, and it made his story better. If you think that’s idiotic, then you don’t understand reporting. You might want to do some research on it before you launch into a criticism of it.

    TIZMANIAN: It seems clear to me that you and Charles are both on the whiner wagon aka MSM journos who despise bloggers and yet avail themselves of the same tool to vent about ‘how hard it is to be a “real” journalist’ via someone’s blog. How dare we present an informed opinion about anything? Gosh! We forgot to genuflect in the general direction of the nearest MSM edifice! We might burst into flames!

    Get over yourselves. Metroxing went out of his way to cut Keefe some slack even though it is clear to any third grader that he (Keefe) hadn’t done his homework. Then you try to dogpile on him by suggesting that somehow he hasn’t investigated on his own before presenting his opinion. Did you miss the huge gales of laughter when Jobs responded to the question? The entire audience (mostly journos one presumes) understood what was happening but not you two?

    So Charles: Keefe did in fact frame an article around an opinion, built with questions, that was ill formed. Perhaps you can buy him some class credits over at mediabistro or direct him over to Poynter. Or maybe you could use your mac email account to send it to him since you post it on your blog (here it is in case you forgot it: The irony might escape him though.

    And BobM: Getting a smart quote from Jobs does make a lot of sense but that presumes one has the intellect to ask a well formed question to generate an interesting response.

    (METROXING: Again, you are NOT reading what I’m writing – I’m saying, do you HOLD a story about Michael Vick until you get a quote? You were equating aking questions-any questions as journalism … REALLY? That’s journalism?)

  8. He probably knows McDonald’s ditty too.

  9. BobM

    All right. Since one of you at least admit that getting a good quote from Jobs is a good idea (assuming you agree that Jobs’s reply was smart), I’ll try one last time.

    First, I read and understood exactly what you were saying. That’s why I said the situations weren’t analogous. There could be many stories about Michael Vick. For some of them, it might make more sense to wait than for others. But even for breaking news, a reporter would at least take the time to break off a phone call in an attempt to get a quote. Again, that’s what reporters do. If you read newspaper stories, you’ve probably seen the words along the lines of “Calls to Mr. X for comment were not returned by press time.”

    How long to wait is usually up to a reporter’s editor. Keefe’s editor obviously didn’t have a problem with waiting. His piece wasn’t breaking news. It was more of an analysis, a so-called “think piece” (however shallow). If his editor didn’t have a problem with waiting to talk to Jobs, why should you? And he wasn’t just asking any question; he was asking a question that was germane to his article.

    And Tizmanian, if you think I’m on some sort of whiner bandwagon, your analytical skills could use some sharpening. What exactly sounds like a whine to you? Did I say his job was hard?

    You’re certainly entitled to express any opinion. Of course, it’s better if it’s an informed opinion, and if you offer an opinion that’s not based on real knowledge, you’re more likely to get called out for it. Metroxing admitted he’s not a journalist, but he felt free to pontificate about a reporter who was asking a legitimate question for his story.

    For the record, I have no connection with MSM or anybody else related to this discussion, and rather than despise bloggers, I welcome them and read many of them. One of my favorite sayings is a quote from A.J. Liebling, the former press critic for the New Yorker, who in the early fifties, lamenting the concentration of newspaper ownership, said “Freedom of the press is guaranteed only to those who own one.” Blogging is a great exercise of the First Amendment.

    I took a little shot at Metroxing (if implying that he’s a pundit is taking a shot) for getting all high and mighty when it seemed to me he didn’t understand the situation completely.

    As for the laughter, I certainly got it. I laughed too, because as an Apple fan since 1985, I could only imagine what Jobs thought of the question. Nevertheless, Jobs gave what I thought was a neatly framed response that answered his question directly and was entirely appropriate to his article.

    I’ll let your readers decide who needs to get over himself.

    TIZMANIAN: Man, you are dense. You were labeled a whiner in regard to your whiny response to Metroxing’s astute commentary not whether or not your buddy Keefe had a hard job or not (see: not). If you laughed at the question Keefe posed, why defend something so inane? And if it was germane to the article as you attest, why not include it and the resulting response in the article? Because it was sophomorical. There were infinitely better questions to ask. All one had to do was take five minutes of googling to help frame something better than what was asked. Getting laughed out of the room must have been fun for him and sounds like for you, vicariously. And don’t worry about our readers, they are pretty smart and will easily figure it out.

  10. BobM

    Wow. I’m whiny and dense. I’ll have to take your word for it, because I’ve re-read all my comments and just couldn’t find a trace of whine in them.

    You ask why Keefe didn’t include the response in his article, but in fact he did, in the third full paragraph. I’m not going to give you the link. It will take you less than five minutes to find it on Google.

    Again, for the record, I have no connection to Keefe. He is not “my buddy,” I and had never heard of him before last Tuesday.

    To tell you the truth, I thought it was a nutty question at first, but after I’d thought about it for a while, I had to admit he was doing his job, which is asking a principal in his story for a comment, and he showed some guts doing it in that forum.

    By the way, I love your use of the term “sophomorical.” Is that even worse than “sophomoric?”

    Maybe you could use an editor.

  11. “Keefe did in fact frame an article around an opinion, built with questions, that was ill formed.”

    What opinion? He’s writing about Intel Inside. Intel itself is downgrading that campaign. (You hadn’t heard?) But it still pays money.

    “Metroxing went out of his way to cut Keefe some slack even though it is clear to any third grader that he (Keefe) hadn’t done his homework.”

    That homework would be.. finding out what Apple’s directors have publicly said about the Intel Inside campaign? Hmm, one article some years ago, where Schiller said “We chose not to”. That’s it. Why didn’t they?

    The supreme irony here is that you’re continually confusing opinion and fact. You think you know why Apple with in Intel Inside. That’s opinion. Then you criticise someone who tries to establish the fact. Is that your principal criticism of journalists – that they establish facts rather than giving opinion?

    Meanwhile I wonder when the last time you found your opinion altered by new facts was. Seems you could give Ann Coulter a run for her money on the idee fixe stakes.

    (METROXING: What new facts? That’s THE problem with his piece. He recapped the Intel sticker program as if it were just a sticker program and he was writing for NIck Jr. magazine. One of the few if the only Intel chip user that doesn’t place stickers is Apple. EVERYONE who has any knowledge of the computer knows why on many levels why they do not. Wasn’t sure if Bob didn’t know, didn’t think his audience was smart enough, didn’t care or had some oter agenda – but I pointed all this – poor journalism as I noted).

  12. BobM

    Metroxing, what exactly are you complaining about, the article or the question? If you’re complaining about the article not establishing any facts, let’s start with Jobs’s explanation for not using Intel stickers. There were widespread assumptions about the reason for this among the people who follow Apple, but it was never, as far as I know, explicitly stated by Apple. In fact, in February of 2006,there was a story on that an Apple China marketing manager said the labels would be on the cases. At any rate, it was hardly beyond the pale, let alone “idiotic,” to want to get Jobs’s reasoning on the record. Here, I agree with Charles. If he hadn’t asked the question, he would have had to answer to his editor.

    Second, there were other facts that Keefe established that were apparently (judging by your comment above) at least new to you. Namely, Dell, Lenovo, and HP are also omitting the stickers from some of their machines–even the ones with Intel processors.

    If you thought the article was lousy or shallow, then you’re on firmer ground. As a matter of fact, I think it would have benefitted from some your analysis about what the OEM’s gave up in return for the cash.

    On the other hand, your article maintained that the question itself was idiotic. This is where I think you were off base. The central issue there is that he was writing an article about companies that use Intel chips and their decisions whether or not to use the stickers. Apple is a high profile exception among manufacturers, and it was worth getting their response on record. He had already to spoken to Apple’s PR people, and they told him to ask Jobs about it on Tuesday, which he did.

    Rather than assume everybody knew the answer already, he got Jobs himself to go on the record. That’s what reporters are supposed to do.

    Look, I’m starting to feel a little ridiculous going on and on about this, but I think it’s important for you to understand the difference between reporting, which Keefe was doing, and blogging, which can be more like editorializing. Please save your attacks for the more deserving, like Enderle, Dvorak, and Thurott.

    (Metroxing: First, no where did I claim he didn’t publish facts. My point is his question is idiotic and while his blog post contains no factual errors, he writes about the issue as if he were writing for Nick Jr. magazine. It is unworthy of a technology & business reporter/journalist (or I believe I said appalling in its simplicity).

    ONCE AGAIN, my main point is journalism is more than asking questions. If you believe journalism is just that – fine. It’s a pretty simple job then. If a building burns down, going there and asking, “Was there a fire?” and leaving – is journalism to you? Really? That’s what your going to defend? Shabby, lazy reporting? That might be an acceptable minimal threshold to you, to me, it’s not very high and that’s what I’m calling Bob Keefe on. Yes, his question is as idiotic as standing by smoking, charring pile of rubble surrounded by fire trucks, people with soot on their faces – and asking the fire chief, “Was there a fire?”

    Now because it involves technology, commerce, branding and marketing – it is a slightly more complex issue than the remenants of something that was ablaze but considering that he is a technology reporter and had experience as a business reporter but he didn’t go further with the issue and stopping at a simplistic question that covered about .05% of the issue, that is as bad as even sending an intern to cover a reported fire and upon arriving there, asks “Was there a fire?”

    As a reporter, you’re claiming he’s supposed to arrive at a press conference or a situation as a blank slate? Are you supposed to wipe all knowledge, and reference to mankind when you arrive on the scene? Is that what you’re defending? That it’s okay to be a robot just booted up this morning – he should nothing more about what’s covering? That ANY question is fair ground?

    The second part of my blog post was to explain WHY I thought he either was slacking off … that the issue was much more complex … maybe he doesn’t understand the rest, maybe didn’t want to understand or didn’t perhaps he thought we wouldn’t understand – all REINFORCING the poor job he did that morning – whatever his motives … perhaps his editor erased his more eloquent and further points, that I don’t know but I do know he asked that question and built a whole blog post column around it – writing it as if that’s the entire issue.

    My original post is VERY CLEAR why I thought the question was idiotic. A week later doesn’t change anything. Poor journalism is poor journalism. I’m not saying Keefe is a bad journalist – we all have our bad days but hey, he’s paid as a professional – he has to face the consequences when he skirts the real issue. You don’t have to agree with me, that’s fine but I think I’ve been prett clear why I thought the question was idiotic and still do.

  13. BobM

    Oops, a correction. I misread Keefe’s article. He actually said that Dell, Lenovo, and HP were omitting the logo from their advertising. Nevertheless, it’s still newsworthy that they’re starting to de-emphasize the logo.

    (METROXING: EXACTLY – Why? Because they realize ALL they were doing was branding Intel and making themselves a subset of Intel in the minds and hearts of consumers … that the real thing to ask for was Intel).

  14. Jeez, but do you ever deserve a fisking.
    Let’s start at the top of your “article”. Headline uses the word “idiotic”. Then you immediately say “Alright, idiotic might be a bit harsh..”

    So you renege on your headline.

    “but for someone who alledgely has business reporting & technology reporting experience, however, the dumb question he posed..”

    1) spelling: allegedly. Your Mac’s spelling broken? Mine shows the fault in that spelling in Camino, MarsEdit, any sorta software. And you don’t have to allege – you could look up.
    2) You’re saying the question is dumb. There. So don’t try to weasel out of that accusation later.
    3) Keefe’s piece you point to isn’t a “blog post”, it’s a published piece. It has a different standard of accuracy and standpoint from a blog post.

    Then in the latest comment you’re insisting that journalism is “about more than asking questions”. Uh-huh, big guy, so tell us all about the big journalistic stories you’ve broken tha you know so well what it is and isn’t.

    Fact is, questions are the bedrock – questions you ask yourself (“Is it worth writing about this?”) and others (“Why doesn’t Apple participate in the Intel Inside program?”). Assemble. Discover discontinuities in arguments. Array for pleasure of readers.

    The comparison to a fire story are lame, and show that you do not know what sort of questions a journalist asks. As I’ve pointed out (but you’ve ignored, because you are bad at listening – a key flaw that means you’ll never be a journalist), nobody had got a quote from Apple about *why* it wasn’t in the scheme.

    Similarly, the Mac blogosphere “knew” that Apple wouldn’t move from PowerPC to Intel, like you “knew” about Apple’s reasons for not joining Intel Inside. Except that was wrong, wasn’t it?

    Here are the sort of questions that would be equivalent on the fire story. You’d need a scheme where the building that burnt could have had a smoke alarm fitted under a scheme but the owners rejected it.
    “Why didn’t you join the free fire alarm scheme?”
    “Do you think that it was wise to stay out of the scheme, given that you have responsibility for this building?”

    You’re mistaking opinion – which you’re perfectly entitled to – for fact. You’re not stating facts in this case. You’re stating opinions. That would be fine, except they’re opinions that come from such a badly-informed place they’re worthless.

    Which makes your continued refusal to accept the reasonable points BobM (whoever he is) and I are trying to make understandable. You don’t understand the difference between opinion and fact. Have you tried Fox News?

    (METROXING: I don’t understand how you are twisting my simple fire analogy. I never claimed to a journalist nor do I do so now. I am a blogger. I take facts and scenarios and give you my educated opinion – nowhere do we have “NEWS” listed anywhere nor are we called TWO A DAY NEWS. Here’s the scenario. Guy asks a question in a PRESS conference with only the press/his colleagues in the room – dozens laugh-mock him. They are laughing at him not with him. Why do people laugh in derision at someone else? Because they do believe it was something dumb or … if you will, idiotic. Who BETTER to judge a journalist than a roomful of other journalists? Further, I explain in great detail why they laughed and why others laugh. IT’s as simple as that. He did his job poorly that day – we all do, he just happened to do it publically. Now, if just asked a dumb question in a room full of his colleagues, that’s totally 100% excusable and I would’ve not have bothered to follow up but when he then wrote the column, it was clear he intended to ask that question all along AND then failed to apply that answer to enlighten us in any way instead, choosing to ignore or not understanding the bigger picture – again, either through his own lack of understanding or because he thought and his editor thought we weren’t worthy of a real answer – in either case, idiotic. Idiotic the day of the incident. Idiotic today. It’s fine you choose to defend his lackluster standards of journalism but it doesn’t change anything. You keep repeating that asking a question makes him a fine journalist. I disagree with you 100%)

  15. BobM

    Look, Metroxing. You keep misreading my critique and making it hard for me to understand your criticism. If you’re saying that Keefe should’ve done a better job of reporting, I agree with you. Are we clear on that? I haven’t in any way defended the overall job Keefe did with the story. In fact, I thought I was critical of him.

    If, as I thought you were saying, you think his question was “idiotic,” then I don’t agree with you, and we can leave it at that. My simple point was that any reporter working on a story concerning the changing attitude among OEM’s about the sticker program would be negligent not to try to get an explanation from Apple for their decision to eschew them.

    Can you see the distinction I’m trying to make?

  16. And finally, at :

    “And that, in short, is the difference between a blogger and a journalist. If you’re asking questions of people and writing on the basis of their answers, you’re a journalist. If you’re writing based on what you think you know, you’re a blogger.”

    You’re a blogger. Which is fine. But don’t criticise journalists for doing what *journalists* do because it’s not blogging.

    (METROXING: I AM criticizing him for not fulfilling his role as a journalist. That’s my entire point. It’s is not journalism to ask one question and leave – 99% of journalists will agree with that statement. The other 1% is apparently you & Bob Keefe. He works for Cox NEWS at a PRESS CONFERENCE. His own JOURNALIST-PRESS colleagues LAUGHED at his ineptness. Me, I’m just piling after his fellow journalists clearly reacted and responded accordingly. If you want to criticize anyone, criticize his colleagues who laughed at him).

  17. BobM

    Holy smoke. My bad. I could’ve sworn the heading and the first four paragraphs of your article were talking about his “idiotic” question. Thanks for clearing this up.

    Now, you’re implying he should’ve stayed to ask more questions? How could I have missed that? (By the way, are you just assuming that he didn’t try? I mean, maybe he didn’t get called on again.)

    As far as the “99% of journalists” goes, have you actually surveyed the more reportorial sites? I don’t see any attribution in your statement. Or is this something you made up? Maybe you should check it out. You know, just in the interest of–what is it? Oh yeah, accuracy. I mean, in case it matters in an argument.

    Sure, many, if not most, of the Apple-oriented blogs criticized him, but many sites that actually do reporting defended his asking the question. Like I said, I laughed too at first, because the whole idea of stickers seemed so counter-Apple. But after reading a few articles and thinking about it, I had to change my mind. His question was entirely appropriate in light of the story he was working on.

    Could he have written a better article? No doubt. Would it have been better if he had included more about the branding issues that you raised? Sure.

    Let me ask you a question. Do you think in retrospect that your article might have been better if you had focused on the merits of his article and left out the hyperbole about his “idiotic” question? To my mind, it certainly would’ve made for a cleaner, sharper, and better-reasoned argument.

    Or maybe you wrote the article before you read his. Of course, his was dated a day earlier, but maybe you didn’t see it. If that’s the case, since you apparently are no longer saying he asked a bad question, why not revisit the issue and remove the “idiotic” label?

    I guess what troubled me was your strident “shoot from the hip and damn the consequences” approach, which detracted from what could’ve been a good article. I thought you could have done better. Now I’m beginning to have some doubts.

    (METROXING: See new comments. His question was idiotic (as I stated) not him. His column was factual but was the equivilent of stating, the fire chief said there was a fire. It says nothing. It’s not journalism because he missed 99% of the story. As you clearly just noted:

    “Could he have written a better article? No doubt. Would it have been better if he had included more about the branding issues that you raised? Sure.”

    That’s ALL I’ve been saying. It was bad journalism because he leaves the impression that Apple is leaving $20 a mchine “on the table,” when the issue is clearly more complex.)

  18. BobM

    With all due respect, you continue to ignore my point. Quoting my four sentences back to me and then claiming that’s all you’ve been saying is simply inaccurate. You spent the first four paragraphs of your article elaborating on the heading that said his question was idiotic. I took the contrary opinion.

    Once again, please answer this question. Are you trying to tell me that a reporter writing an article about the changes in perception of the Intel sticker campaign, which has quotes from Intel, Dell, and AMD executives, among others, shouldn’t include at least an attempt to get a quote from Apple about their rationale?

    This is more than just “getting a quote from the other side.” As it turns out, he got Jobs to say out loud what the other manufacturers are slowly beginning to recognize, but only hinted at in their responses. Contrary to your assertion in the “fire” analogy, he got Jobs to articulate succinctly why there was a fire–namely the importance of not diluting the manufacturer’s brand. It was by far the best quote in the story.

    You’ve never addressed the point that in the context of the story he was writing, his question was not only pertinent, it was important. I mean, you did read his article and not just his blog post, didn’t you?

    Again, my point is simply that the merit of asking or not asking his question is an entirely different issue from what he ultimately did with the response he got. Just as you did in your article, you continue to weaken your point by trying to combine the two issues in your responses.

    TIZMANIAN: With all due respect, Bob, you continually ignore Metroxing’s main point and try to flip back the discussion to a point you wanted to make. Why should we do that? Just because you pursue your (incorrect) position stridently? Puh-leeze.

    If you have not noticed, we don’t limit character count or preview comments in advance on this blog and try to make time to provide feedback to our readers. You chimed in and we responded – ad nauseum. All Keefe did was get Jobs to state the blatantly obvious. Whoopdidoo. Gee, send up a rocket.

    BTW – The reason for us providing additional feedback to the main points of the post is because of your and Charlie’s adamant need to try and twist something around so it somehow makes sense to someone (it doesn’t). But this ain’t the DailyKos, so go on butting your heads against the wall for all I care.

  19. BobM

    Funny you should use that expression. I do kind of get the feeling I’m talking to a wall. Metroxing still hasn’t answered my question.

    As for me “stridently” (Isn’t that how I earlier described Metroxing’s approach to the story?) defending my position, you’re again off base. Stubborn, yes. But I’m not the one dishing out insults (for instance, “idiotic,” “dense,” and “whiny”) or writing in all caps. Well, maybe a little dig, if you include “pundit.” But strident? In your words, puh-leeze.

    Nobody needs to send up a rocket to celebrate Keefe’s question. I’m just asking Metroxing to acknowledge that the question was legitimate for the purposes of Keefe’s story, and that maybe there was a knee-jerk rush to judgment in reaction to it.

    What do you think I ignored? In case you hadn’t noticed, I agreed with him that Keefe could have done a better job with the story. I got that.

    I don’t see what your problem is, however. Metroxing proclaimed Keefe’s question was idiotic. I disagreed. I don’t see how that’s twisting anything. I mean, it seems pretty straightforward to me.

    As for your generosity in allowing comments, and for that matter, responding to them, kudos to you guys. I think it’s great. It would be even better if your arguments were on point.

    The whole sticker question episode raised a legitimate issue of what a reporter’s job entails and what his role should be. It deserves some thoughtful discussion, rather than a dismissive insult.

    Finally, if you’re certain what I’m saying doesn’t make sense to anyone else, why don’t you open it up to your readers? Have them read our correspondence and Keefe’s article, and then give their opinion about whether getting a response from Jobs was appropriate. Have some fun with it.

    If you don’t want to do that, ask some reporters or editors what they think. Maybe even some other bloggers. You might start with Mitch Wagner of Information Week, or at least read his article.


    Or maybe Andy Ihnatko. Or Technovia. Or Derek Powazek–even the comments on their sites, which are all over the lot.

    I just think Metroxing’s braying headline and hyperbolic bashing of Keefe’s question did a disservice to reporters and even to his own article, which was otherwise fairly well thought out.

  20. Mextroxing: “Further, I explain in great detail why they laughed and why others laugh.”

    No. You don’t know why other journalists laughed *because you have not asked them*. You’ve given your *opinion* about why. But if your life (or job) depended on each one saying “Because it was a dumb question we already knew the answer to”, you’d be out.

    “Me, I’m just piling after his fellow journalists clearly reacted and responded accordingly. If you want to criticize anyone, criticize his colleagues who laughed at him”

    His fellow journalists didn’t, AFAIK, call it “dumb”.

    You still have not grasped the difference between finding out what an executive thinks by asking them a direct question (let’s call it “simple journalism”), and guessing at what that executive thinks but not actually knowing (let’s call that “all your attempts to justify the slanging you’ve given this journalist without having a clue about what journalism entails or what standards of proof and accuracy are”).

    Based on what you’ve (both) written, you think journalism is easy: that navigating your way through thickets of misinformation, evasion, contradictory quotes, cover-ups and complex financial matters is so damn trivial that the asking of direct questions has no part in it. After all, why seek facts when you can just surf on others’ opinions? Everyone knew Enron was rock-solid. Everyone knew that ADRs and sub-prime mortgages couldn’t go wrong.

    Using other peoples’ opinions on things as a crutch for thinking will lead you astray. It has here.

    TIZMANIAN: On any given subject one may not ‘know’ anything without asking but there can be telltale evidence of what something ‘is’ without the need to ask the obvious. While someone who laughs at someone else doesn’t say “you are an idiot” their physical response (derisive laughter) and body language (rolling on the floor and pointing at you) pretty much does.

    How many angels fit on a pinhead, Charles? You assert above that we ‘think journalism is easy’ but arn’t you assuming that since you didn’t ask us? Shame on you for not following your own advice. And btw, not everyone thought Enron was rock-solid and that sub-prime mortgages could go wrong, you MSM guys just reported most the ink that portrayed it that way.

    The only person astray here is you. And while there are plenty of bloggers that can write rings around plenty of ‘journalists’, there are dee-dee-dees on boths sides of the argument just not here at 2aday.

  21. BobM

    Gee, I wonder what happened to Charles’s and my last two posts. Tizmanian, didn’t you say “… we don’t limit character count or preview comments in advance on this blog ?” Maybe they were just deleted by accident.

    It certainly couldn’t have been because you were uncomfortable about facing up to the questions they raised, could it? If you didn’t want to continue the discussion, you could have just said something like “we’re not going to waste any more time on this,” and let our two comments stand on their own, instead of retroactively sending them to the electronic shredder as if you were some Nixon administration operative.

    If that’s how you roll, it says a lot more about your integrity than Charles or I ever could.

    TIZMANIAN: What two posts? And uncomfortable with what? You gotta be kidding. Deflate that ego a few pounds.

    (METROXING: I deleted them because we were covering no new ground. I wrote a blog post. You wrote why you disagreed. You had your say. I went over point by point on my original opinion why it was idiotic and why it still is – you still continued to cover the same ground in defending Keefe – that’s fine. I then explained in simpler and more details but yet, you disregard everything I wrote and continued on a discourse I never discussed in my original blog post. If you still want to continue, feel free to start or pick up with your own blog. We’re moving onto Oreo Cakesters.)

  22. This article gives me a headache, is it the writer?

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