Never Apologize For Having An Opinion — Especially When You’re Right
You know it’s going to be an entertaining blog post when the lede is: “See the end of the editorial for an important update.”
So when I read the Jon Fingas editorial on Engadget entitled, Amazon and Google are undermining mobile pricing, and that may hurt everyone, I was expecting something crazy. Maybe it was suggesting that Amazon and Google are killing baby seals to hurt iPad sales? Or perhaps a notion was put forth that a terrorist organization is bankrolling both companies to keep tablet prices low even though they make no money selling them?
Instead, what I read was a compelling and thoughtful argument as to why the race to the bottom by two behemoths in the tablet space may end up hurting innovation in said space. An opinion piece, sure — but one full of good thoughts worth discussing.
Then I got to the end.
Update: Clarifications and apologies are in order.
What followed was two paragraphs of backtracking and apologizing. I’m still not quite clear why. I read the entire piece again. Then the apology again. Still no clue.
As the unnamed update editor tells it, the piece should have had more examples and “set a more neutral tone”. Um, why? To ensure that it’s yet another boring-as-fuck piece that no one would even get through let alone think about ever again?
As a writer, I feel disgusted seeing such an update. As a reader, I feel even worse. It reads as if the Engadget editors think their readership to be morons who can’t think and/or reason for themselves beyond what they’re told.
Again, I just don’t get it.
The lede of the update may yield one big clue:
“The intent of the editorial wasn’t to excuse the iPad mini’s pricing.”
So it sounds as if the editors of Engadget were getting flamed about the framing of the post around the iPad mini. When you look below and notice that the post has over 4,000 comments and many of them are written in troll gibberish, you can almost be sure that was the case. (And that’s clearly what John Gruber was thinking as well when he shared the November 3 post this morning.)
But I still don’t understand why anyone would feel compelled to make such a visible and apologetic update? It was a provocative editorial. Success!
I like the Engadget team a lot. They’re the sister site of TechCrunch, where I still work myself from time-to-time. There’s zero chance such an update would ever appear on TechCrunch, so I’m not sure why it’s on Engadget.
It seems like this is yet another sad step in the direction of some folks in the media wanting to pretend that no one has opinions. Must. Maintain. Neutral. Tone. Again, I view this as an insult to both writers and readers because it’s an insult to intelligence.
And oh, by the way, did I mention this was a goddamn editorial? That’s a fancy phrase for an opinion piece.
A. More. Neutral. Tone.
Fuck. That. Shit.
Update: Engadget has since removed their own update to the story in question and left the rest of the editorial untouched. I spoke a bit with editor-in-chief Tim Stevens who not only agreed with my take, but assured me that he was not aware of the incident beforehand and immediately made the moves to correct it. He’ll be chatting with his team on the topic. All good.