Drawing the Line: How We’ll Cover Steve Jobs’ Health
This morning’s revelation that Apple CEO Steve Jobs will be taking a second medical leave of absence in two years has led to many legitimate questions, including those surrounding Apple’s succession plans, as well as the impact that any extended absence might have on the company’s product pipeline. However, another type of question reared its ugly head again immediately after the announcement: the specific status of Steve Jobs’ health, down to the nitty-gritty of his medical condition. Though we report every day on the ups and downs of Apple and its products, we have strong reservations about reporting on its personnel and their personal lives, even when the stories might be considered interesting reading.
First, a little history. The timing of Jobs’ 2009 leave of absence announcement came less than 10 days after he penned an open letter blaming recent weight loss on a “hormone imbalance” and stated that he would continue as CEO during his recovery. This change came as a shock to many observers, who felt that Apple and Jobs were being overly secretive. Somewhat consequently, coverage of Jobs’ health in the months following was intense, with doctors speculating on possible causes without ever having examined the man in person, and the quantity of discussion came to rival Apple’s most anticipated product introductions. The quality of discussion, however, did not. Reports regarding Jobs’ illness crossed a line that became more like gossip than journalism. Only when he was ready to return to work did the world discover that Jobs had received a liver transplant, a revelation that served to spark further debate over Apple’s disclosure policies.
Some people are more concerned with Apple’s stock price than the human side of this story. These people suggest that the details of Jobs’ health are of material interest to those invested in the company, and basically any and all information related to his health should be immediately disclosed, personal privacy be damned. As you might have guessed, we don’t share this view. Regardless of our relationship with Apple, our experiences with its CEO, or our particular feelings about any of the company’s products, Steve Jobs is a man with a limited lifespan, a family, and a reasonable expectation of privacy. As one of the technology industry’s most respected innovators, he has done more for this world in the last 30 years than virtually anyone reading these words right now. He has not gone out of his way to attract attention outside of his work at Apple. And he has pleaded for journalists to respect his and his family’s privacy, something that anyone who has been through medical issues of their own should appreciate on a human level.
Going forward, we will not be posting the kind of speculative stories—“Doctor says tumor could have metastasized again,” “Jobs seen looking frail prior to announcement”—that other publications, including those well-connected to Apple, seem to be fine with publishing. These stories may generate traffic and discussion, but apart from the obvious point that Jobs has limited his role with Apple and may not return to active duty in the near future—points that were made clearly in Apple’s media advisory—they have little value as anything other than tabloid fodder. When and if there is official, concrete news concerning Jobs’ health—news that we genuinely hope will be positive—we’ll publish it, assuming that there’s good reason to believe that it will have an actual impact on Apple as a company or its products going forward. There’s a fine line between reporting news and mercilessly repeating gossip, a line which will no doubt be crossed multiple times in the months ahead. We’re not going to participate in that, and hope that other publications will make the same pledge. At some point, human decency should prevail over pageviews, and this would be a very good time to start.
- Editorial: Why iOS 7 Will Succeed, Despite Divisive Issues
- Editorial: It’s Time To Fix Lightning Dock + Case Compatibility
- Multi-Editorial: iLounge’s Editors on iOS 7
- Editorial: 2013’s 10 Big Apple Trends, Spotted At CES
- Editorial: Why Apple’s $329 iPad mini Price Is Right, For Now
- Multi-Editorial: iLounge’s Editors on Apple’s Passbook
If you have a comment, news tip, advertising inquiry, or coverage request, a question about iPods/iPhones/iPad or accessories, or if you sell or market iPod/iPhone/iPad products or services, read iLounge's Comments + Questions policies before posting, and fully identify yourself if you do. We will delete comments containing advertising, astroturfing, trolling, personal attacks, offensive language, or other objectionable content, then ban and/or publicly identify violators.
- Prong debuts Prong PWR Case for iPhone 5/5s
- Notes from Apple’s Q2 2014 earnings call
- Apple announces 7:1 stock split, increased share buyback, dividends
- Apple Q2 2014: 43.7M iPhones, 16.3M iPads, 2.7M iPods
- Former employee says Apple left iOS users vulnerable
- Siri coming to Apple TV?
- Google covering some Samsung defense costs in Apple case
- Changes introduced to Apple’s app content rating system
- iOS 7.1.1 makes in-app purchases clear in Top Grossing chart
- Apple releases iOS 7.1.1
- Divoom Voombox Portable Bluetooth Speaker
- Pelican ProGear Voyager for iPhone 5/5s
- ZeroChroma Vario-Edge for iPhone 5/5c/5s + Vortex for iPhone 5c
- JBL Synchros S300i Stereo Headphones
- AKG K845BT Over-Ear Bluetooth Headset
- JBL Voyager Home Audio System With Portable Wireless Speaker
- Harman Kardon Esquire Executive Portable Wireless Speaker
- Booq Booqpad for iPad Air
- Rokform Fuzion+ for iPhone 5/5s
- Incipio Tek-nical for iPad Air
- The Complete Guide to Apple TV Channels
- iHistory: From iPod + iTunes to iPhone, Apple TV + iPad, 2001 to 2010
- iHistory: From iPod + iTunes to iPhone, Apple TV + iPad: 2011 to Today
- Viewing only downloaded iTunes Match tracks
- Splitting purchased content between two iPads
- iLounge’s 2014 CES Best of Show Awards: iPad, iPhone, iPod + Mac
- Preview: 7 Big Apple Trends To Expect At The 2014 CES
- Non-Bluetooth Lightning dock speakers
- Shared Apple ID and switching away from iPhone
- Syncing multiple iCloud data with a family Mac