Gina Keating, Ace Reporter

A few days ago, when I linked to a story from Reuters reporter Gina Keating about Wal-Mart canceling their not-even-a-year-old movie download service, this paragraph caught my attention:

The giant retailer’s foray into online video downloading began in February and was hailed by media industry experts as a “game changer” that could introduce millions of DVD buyers to the practice of downloading.

Which “media industry experts”, I wondered, had hailed it as a “game changer”? Ends up it was one “expert”, his name is Rob Enderle, and he hailed it as such to Gina Keating herself in her original report on the then-new Wal-Mart service back in February:

Rob Enderle, an independent analyst at the Enderle Group, said Wal-Mart’s download offering is a “game changer” that will help set off “a long decline” for DVD sales.

It’s not an exaggeration to state that Enderle is almost always completely wrong. So why do reporters continue to quote him as an “industry expert”? If being completely wrong all the time doesn’t disqualify Enderle as an expert, what would?

If Enderle were just another crackpot with an obscure weblog or column, I’d just sweep him into the “pay no mind” file. But the reason it’s worth calling him out, repeatedly, is that he continues to hold sway with major media tech reporters. The only way it would be worthwhile for tech reporters to continue to press Enderle for quotes would be if they were willing to describe him as “almost always utterly wrong”, thus letting readers know that the opposite of what he claims is probably the case; e.g. that Wal-Mart’s movie download service was doomed from the start, Apple had nothing to worry about regarding Windows Vista, HP’s licensed iPod would never outsell Apple’s own iPods, and so forth.

As Dave Winer wrote over five years ago:

Enderle’s presence is a warning sign. I see a quote from him I get the message. The reporter is out of ideas and has decided to cut corners.

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