Skip to comments.A new reality distortion field
Posted on 01/17/2009 11:29:07 PM PST by Swordmaker
Coverage of Steve Jobs' health issues has not been journalism's finest hour
What is it about Steve Jobs that makes otherwise sensible journalists completely lose their marbles? This weeks coverage of Steve Jobs health woes has hit some surprising new lows in journalistic IQ.
The latest example is a story on Newser.com by media reporter Michael Wolff, headlined Apple Dies. Its premise: the logical answer to what happens at Apple without Jobs is that it dies. What you have, demonstrably, is a company without any managerial wherewithal beyond Jobs.
What is demonstrable is that Michael Wolff doesnt know what hes talking about. He doesnt seem to know who Tim Cook is. He hasnt, apparently, dialed in to any of Apples earnings announcements over the past couple of years, at which Steve Jobswhen he appeared at allgenerously shared the stage with Cook and other executives. He doesnt seem to know how to read an annual report. Maybe he should read up on these summarized profiles of six accomplished Apple executives, all of whom possess managerial wherewithal and none of whom answer to the name Steve.
But thats only the most recent in a weeks worth of frothing. In all that froth, a few themes have emerged.
For example, theres the whole medical-diagnosis-at-a-distance thing. One of the worst examples (if only because the source is otherwise so reputable) was this Bloomberg story from Thursday (updated six times at last count), in which real doctorswho really should know betterspeculate about what kinds of medical procedures Jobs might be facing. Youd think theyd add a clause to the Hippocratic OathFirst, do no diagnoses of patients youve never seen.
(And Bloomberg's coverage didn't stop there: "Apples Jobs Said to Be Considering Liver Transplant," said the headline Friday. "According to people who are monitoring his illness," said the first paragraph's citation of sources. "Why dont you guys leave me alone?" Jobs said to Bloomberg, presumably during an angry phone call to complain about Thursday's story.)
In his wildly speculative story, Steve Jobs Probably Wont Come Back to Apple originally headlined simply "Steve Jobs Won't Come Back to Apple" (and yes, it's a bad sign when these stories keep getting new revisions, new bylines, and new headlines) Wireds Brian Chen quotes Dr. Alan Astrow, Director of Hematology and Oncology at the Maimonides Cancer Center, as saying Jobs increasingly gaunt figure between public appearances in the past year is a possible sign of active cancer. Yes, its possible that its active cancer. Its also possible that, as Jobs has said, its a hormonal imbalance. Or its a normal consequence of treatment for pancreatic cancer. Or its that wacky new macrobiotic diet his wife put him on. All kinds of things are possible.
Its even worse when the armchair diagnosers are complete amateurs. Chen also quotes analyst Roger Kay: Despite all the protestations, I think he has cancer. They talk about digestive this and digestive that, but just look at the photos. Yes, although Roger Kay is not a medical professional, he does have the special ability to diagnose someone by looking at a photograph.
(Disclosure: Brian used to work here at Macworld. And Im normally a fan of his work at Wired.)
Then theres this notion that Steve Jobs has no right to privacy. For a prime example, see Henry Blodgets recent column column on Silicon Alley Insider. Forget the dubious assumption that company executives should be required to disclose private health matters. The thing that bugs me here is the notion that somehow Apple has to play by different rules than any other company because Jobs is a celebrity.
But my vote for most completely whacked-out Jobs coverage of the week is a spectacular combination of apology, defiance, and primal-scream therapy from Gizmodos Brian Lam.
Gizmodo helped kick off this most recent round of Jobs frothing with a story in December, in which Jesus Diaz wrote, According to a previously reliable source, Apple misrepresented the reasons behind Macworld and Jobs keynote cancellation. Allegedly, the real cause is his rapidly declining health. In fact, it may be even worse than we imagined.
Previously reliable source, allegedly, may be even worse than we imaginedDiaz is no Woodward and Bernstein, but he turned out to be, if not exactly right, then not exactly wrong either. The story got lots of attention, and apparently caused Apple stock to drop.
Thats the reporting Lam addresses in his blog post. Hes, um, conflicted about it:
Publishing rumors about Steve Jobs health is one of the most distasteful things Ive done in a long time Professionally, I think we did what we were supposed to do I am proud of the work I did with Jesús Diaz on this series And over the last two weeks, Ive hated my job and sometimes, myself, too.
Id like to think that Lam speaks for all the Wollfs, Bloombergs, and Blodgets of the world, that theyre all at least a little ashamed of what theyve done this week. As the redoubtable John Gruber pointed out, Heres a hint: When youre actually proud of your work, rather than just telling yourself youre proud of it, you sleep well at night.
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“L’Etat c’est Moi” is no longer the operating principle at Apple. There’s the rub, while in the olden days Jobs could be credibly accused of running a cult of personality at Apple; that was a long time ago. He’s made a considerable effort to spread the credit around.
This is really starting to remind me of health speculations on Soviet politburo members.
Apple’s stuffed with talented managers. The question is whether it’s well-supplied with visionaries. Steve Jobs is the single finest businessman of our lifetimes. He is unique among business giants in having revolutionized multiple fields, from personal computing (at least twice; arguably three times since Next lives on in the current Macs) to personal entertainment to music distribution to motion-picture animation, and now to cell phones. We aren’t likely to see his likes again when he passes. The next five months will be a time to keep a close watch on Apple as it rolls along without Steve as a daily force. I wish them the best. The world would be a drearier place without Apple.
Thomas Edison of the computer age?
I guess that makes Bill Gates the modern day Westinghouse.
Steve was just the face..the company was run by others. Apple decided long ago to keep Steve front and center and the media, like they always do, buy into the story. Apple is not Jobs and Jobs is not Apple. The company will survive with out him but all of this is Apple’s fault. Their arrogance and lies have hurt their stockholders by artificially deflating the company’s stock.
Islets of Langerhans is where his rare (3%) pancreatic cancer was. If Andy Grove can beat cancer than so will Steve Jobs. He has a strong will and has access to the best medical minds. Who I’m sure are trying to get access to him to give advice
My prediction is Steve Jobs will be gone from Apple for one year but will return better than before but will not work himself to death any more
Islets of Langerhans is the area in which the endocrine (i.e., hormone-producing) cells of the pancreas are grouped. Discovered in 1869 by the famous German pathological anatomist Paul Langerhans, the islets of Langerhans constitute approximately 1 to 2% of the mass of the pancreas. There are about one million islets in a healthy adult human pancreas, which are distributed evenly throughout the organ; their combined mass is 1 to 1.5 grams.
A company that innovates, revolutionized by some accounts, and is highly profitable tends to have stocks that increase in value. Sometimes by a whole lot. Apple sales have continued to grow (with the exception of the most recent fully-reported quarter). Their profit margin per-unit is still the highest in the industry, and their approach is held up as the bar to meet or exceed. Whether you like Steve Jobs and/or his politics (which I don't - but Gates isn't any better), Apple has been insanely successful. Stocks reflect that success (just as they have dropped when the infrequent bad news comes out - such as this speculation on Job's health). Jobs has been the driving force at Apple. In their structure - no product is introduced (or even put through full development) unless he ok'd it. Further, many innovations even of recent have originated with Steve and his vision. Yes, Apple has a talented team. I believe that is not only because Steve has always insisted on keeping talent. I also believe that there are a least a couple of people within the operations at Apple that Steve would be comfortable with running the company. Even driving force type folks eventually want to retire (assuming they don't die first). Bill Gates already took that route.
very simple. By continuing to cover for Steve’s health and not being honest with the press, any bit of news/rumors about Jobs would cause the stock to take a hit. Had Apple been forthright from the get go about the seriousness of Jobs health and the fact they have (and always) had a great team of people to lead Apple if Jobs wasn’t able to work (this should have been uttered by Jobs himself) none of this would have caused the stock to drop as it has. The idea that Apple will suffer if Jobs is gone is just ludicrous!!! Apple is NOT A ONE MAN COMPANY! And the person taking the biggest financial hit is Steve Jobs himself. Just a stupid stupid move on his part.
btw perception is reality, esp with stocks. Apple put forth a false perception instead of dealing with the cold reality of Steve’s life threatening health problem. Stocks fluctuate but the current drop wasn’t due to economic issues. It dealt with Jobs and Apple lying about Jobs’ condition. Apple should have done what the Clintons always did and got the dirty stuff out fast and early and when it did then come to light, they just would say it’s old news and move on. Worked like a charm for them.
And it just gets worse for Apple..
read and weep if you are an Apple Share holder..
It’s because Apple has a cult like following. It is a superior OS in some respects, but that does not expalin the Apple movement.
I smell a short sell market play.
Apple Sales still were growing... just at a slower rate that the same quarter grew last year, 1% less growth.