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'Meander' Kahney Reveals Cult of Mac Journalists

- 2003.03.04

Now it can be revealed: The so called "Cult of Mac" composed of Leander "Meander" Kahney of Wired News, anyone who writes for Business Week, and many others are actually members of a secret cult of journalists who like to write about the Mac.

Kahney, himself a Mac user, reveals in his article that many journalists are in fact Mac users. "I have always been a Mac user, and I probably always will be a Mac user. That's why I'm interested in the Mac culture.

"Like most other Mac users, I believe the Mac is the best computer out there. I do not think of myself as part of a cult, a quasi-religious community, or a weird techno-fetish ring."

In fact Kahney is a member of a large and growing cult - a cult of journalists who cannot help but write about the Mac.

It's a prestigious club. Oft-quoted writers such as Matthew Rothenberg, Charles Haddad, Gene Steinberg, and several others belong to the cult. How does one become a member of the Mac Journalists' Cult?

"There's no official membership," according to Rothenberg. "You just sort of get into it, and when you start writing articles about writing articles about the Mac, you know you're hooked." Rothenberg also says, "You have to write at least one article about the hate mail you get when you criticize the Mac."

<Click here to go to the next page so we get twice as many hits as we deserve for this article.>

Steinberg points out that hits have a lot to do with your status within the cult. "You can't write for one of these little pansy websites like ilikemymac.com," says Steinberg. "You can only be in the cult if you get at least 20,000 unique hits on an article dealing with speculation about future Apple products. You also have to tell the CEO of a multibillion dollar corporation how to run his business." He pauses to tap out a response to a reader's email. "It's expected," he concludes.

Haddad concurs. "Oh yeah, hits are important. But to maintain your objectivity, you have to say something negative about Apple every now and then."

When asked for an example, he said, "I'll get back to you on that. Why don't you go talk to Steinberg or Rothenberg or someone else? I'm busy."

When contacted by Unwired News for this article, both Steinberg and Rothenberg said there was absolutely nothing significant about the fact that both of their names end in "berg."

"That's not significant," said Charles W. Moore of Applelinks, Low End Mac, and other sites. "What really matters is how many sites you write for. I'm shooting for ten, two every day." He pauses, giving me a reflective look. "If you have any thoughts on the matter, send me an email about it."

<Just click here for the heck of it.>

"Hey, don't forget about me," David Coursey was quoted as saying, although not in connection with this article. "I write compulsively about the Mac. I think that compulsion is part of the cult. You have to say something about the compulsion to say the same thing over and over. It helps to repeat yourself, too. At least, that's what I've heard. On the grapevine, you know. I have connections."

<click here to give us yet another hit for this one article even though the concept of "pages" is really irrelevant in an electronic medium>

Although there are many unofficial Cult of Mac Journalists on the Web - "unofficial" being defined as a writer who cannot meet the criterion of getting an official press pass at a canceled Macworld Expo or having a press pass pulled at an official Macworld Expo - only ones who get quoted by print publications qualify for cult membership.

"If someone writes about your writing in a print publication, you're a shoe-in," said Steve Wood, publisher of a the web site Educators' News, which sort of pretends not to be about Macs in education. "It also works if someone who writes for the online version of a print publication writes about your writing."

The Cult of Mac Journalists is in fierce competition with a related clique, the Brotherhood of Journalists of Apple Doom Everlasting, who predict that the demise of the company is "imminent" - and have been doing so since way back before 1997. Like college students writing repetitive Masters theses, these journalists only make a single contribution to their craft and are never heard from again, according to Bryan Chaffin of the Mac Observer.

Chaffin himself is not obsessed with the Brotherhood per se, but merely tracks their antics for the tremendous number of hits he gets from the True Believers of the Brotherhood of Journalists of Apple Doom Everlasting. "We sometimes get five or six hits a day," he says.

As with the Brotherhood, there is a heirarchy within the Cult of Mac Journalists. Old-timers have contributed dozens or even hundreds of articles over the years, whereas "initiates" may have only written an article or two.

That keeps smalltime Mac Journalist Cult wannabes such as David Zeiler of the Baltimore Sun busy trying to find something new and original to say. "I like to drop iPod references," said the journalist.

"People like to read about the iPod. Yeah, iPod is good. Also, people standing in Apple Stores. I like them, too. I like to follow them around and ask lots of questions. I have this digital camera, and I take pictures of them, too. Sometimes they take me home, if I show them my press pass."

He gives a passing Apple Store customer a measured look. "Do you want to see my press pass?"

<If you click here, nothing will happen, because this is near the end of the article. Please change your IP address before clicking here. Go ahead, click here. You know you want to. We can use the hits.>

For his own part, Kahney denies stalking ordinary Mac cultists when looking for material for a new article. "Honest to God, they come to me. I just happened to be standing with my TiBook in this one neighborhood, late at night, where everyone has AirPort base stations, and these folks actually came out and called the cops. Can you imagine? I'm a professional journalist, not a voyeur of people using Macs. "

I wait, sensing there's something he wants to ask.

"Tell me something weird about your use of Macs," he says at last.

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