About the Wall Street Journal’s Apple ‘story line’

December 31, 2014, 4:37 PM UTC

Daniel Eran Dilger began his AppleInsider year-in-review editorial Tuesday by quoting Daisuke Wakabayashi in the Wall Street Journal:

A year ago,” Wakabayashi began, “the story line around Apple Inc. was that its formidable growth had petered out and Samsung Electronics Co. was eating its lunch. What a difference a year makes.”

“Story line,” as Daring Fireball’s John Gruber points out, is an interesting phrase for what Wakabayashi and his colleagues at the Journal had been feeding the paper’s 2.4 million readers for a couple of years.

And not just the Journal. The New York Times rode an anti-Apple story line all the way to a Pulitzer in 2013. Business Insider, Forbes, 24/7Wall Street, Motley Fool and Seeking Alpha are all well-represented in AAPLInvestor.net’s collection of “Apple-is-doomed” quotes — sound-bites that fit the story line at the time but sound, in retrospect, pretty far off the mark.

The mind seeks comfort in patterns. It’s only human to try to make facts fit a script. But don’t business journalists covering a story as important as Apple owe it to their readers to nose out the right narrative?

Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter at @philiped. Read his Apple (AAPL) coverage at fortune.com/ped or subscribe via his RSS feed.