Wall Street Journal blows it: iTunes only imports ‘weird AAC format,’ iPod only plays Apple formats

“Monica Partridge, a Los Angeles-based Web master, loves her iPod music player but hates the iTunes music store and organizer. ‘When it rips music,’ or copies songs to her computer, she says, it ‘rips them in that weird format’ that only iTunes uses. This makes the songs hard to transfer to any other computer unless that hardware has iTunes software. So, Ms. Partridge skips iTunes altogether,” Sarah McBride writes for The Wall Street Journal.

MacDailyNews Take: Wrong, Ms. Partridge, as an ounce of investigation would have revealed. Unfortunately, the facts don’t seem to prevent The Wall Street Journal’s Sarah McBride from repeating incorrect, ignorant statements for all the world to read. Perhaps they’ll all “skip iTunes altogether,” too. iTunes, by default, does use MPEG-4 Audio (AAC), you know, “that weird format” that also happens to be the successor to MP3 and de facto standard for legal digital online music files. Of course, if you actually use the application for a minute, instead of “skipping it altogether,” you know that iTunes can easily be set to rip CDs into AIFF, MP3, WAV, and Apple Lossless formats. iTunes>Preferences>Importing: set “Import Using” to your desired format.

McBride continues, “Digital music and movies have rapidly become the building blocks of the future entertainment industry — in part, because of the potential ease with which they can be delivered, played and moved about. But potential is the key word here: So far, they’ve come with new kinds of restrictions, incompatibilities and frustrations never dreamed of in the analog world.”

The article drones on about “incompatibilities” and makes another stupid, totally incorrect statement regarding iPod: “Apple Computer… are attempting to lock consumers into their products by making devices that play music and movies only in the formats that the company sells,” according to McBride.

MacDailyNews Take: iPod shuffle models play MP3, MP3 VBR, AAC, Protected AAC (from iTunes Music Store, M4A, M4B, M4P), Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4) and WAV. iPod mini and iPod models play AAC, Protected AAC (from iTunes Music Store), MP3, MP3 VBR, Audible (formats 2, 3, and 4), Apple Lossless, WAV, AIFF. These are not formats that only Apple sells.

Full article here.

MacDailyNews Take: In informal testing, it took 12 seconds for the average idiot to go to Apple.com and find the pages that explain the facts about which formats iTunes supports for import: http://www.apple.com/itunes/import.html and which formats iPods play: http://www.apple.com/ipod/color/specs.html. Obviously, Sarah McBride is not your “average” idiot: . The Wall Street Journal’s editors can be reached here: . Perhaps they can correct these rather obvious mistakes. We hope that, in the future, The Wall Street Journal will commit to doing 12 seconds of “research” before they simply repeat inaccurate statements from “Los Angeles-based Web masters” or anyone else, for that matter. Otherwise, we’d recommend that you skip The Wall Street Journal altogether.

Related MacDailyNews articles:
The de facto standard for legal digital online music files: Apple’s protected MPEG-4 Audio (.m4p) – December 15, 2004


  1. You know, MDN does a valuable service with these pieces. If it gets lazy reporters to actually do the basics of their jobs after their In-box gets stung a bit, I’m all for it. The state of reporting today, even in WSJ, is woeful.

    MDN MW: “justice” (seriously.)

  2. She gets paid for this?

    If that article can get into WSJ, than anything can get published in it.


    I wonder how can I get paid for writing for the WSJ? I can’t do any worse.

  3. This article deserves a good old fashioned Apple evangelist attack.
    The sheer stupidity of it is amazing. She sounds like some 14-year old girl calling it a ‘weird’ format.

    What’s amazing to me is when you read crap like this that you KNOW to be false, it kinda makes you wonder what other things they are reporting that have no merit.

  4. she’s a webmaster and she’s this clueless about something so simple?

    she’s a pathetic noob if she can’t figure out itunes, plain and simple. even my techno-unsavvy sister knows about this stuff…and she is only 10 years old!!!!!

  5. … someone email a link to this MDN article and thread to both her and her boss.

    How lazy do you have to be about fact checking to let your journalistic integrity slip so far. This person is a disgrace to her chosen profession. The fact that she was hired reflects poorly on her boss as well.

    The writing is also frought with contradictions: she first praises the “potential” of the digital age for its ease of use, and then complains about incompatibilities. Umm, the digital formats are as ubiquitous as they are because of their current ease of use. You can transfer virtually any format into virtually any other format with a single click. You can download many players which will play virtually any format out there for free.

    I can see why she is suffering from “frustrations” in the digital age. It must be difficult to get through life with so a low level of competency. Apparently she meets and exceeds the requirements to get hired at the WSJ though.

  6. From the article: “A buyer on iTunes can make no more than five computer copies of a song.”
    That’s wrong too, isn’t it? It’s a playlist that can only be burned five times, not an indivual track. And, of course, it’s easy to sidestep by modifying the playlist anyway. Regardless, why does she even bring up this point? Who needs to burn that many copies to CD anyway? Especially since most of us listen to our music primarily on our iPods, secondarily off the hard drive, and rarely if ever from CD.

    Anyway, someone double check me on this and then add it to the list of grievances.

  7. What can you say….Dan Rather, formally from the cBS network and let me think, there was someone else too…can’t remember, but there seems to be a number of Journalism people (use that lossely) that like to report on things that, should I say, tilt the report in a particular direction as not to be completely truthful.

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