Earlier this week, the New York Time’s published an article regarding Apple’s culture of secrecy and, as pointed out by John Gruber, it seemed to imply that Apple was “weird” because it likes to keep its secrets, oh I don’t know, secret.
I can’t help but feel that this story is a rather transparent lashing out on the part of the Times. They couldn’t get any original information regarding the story they really want — Jobs’s liver transplant — and so like a child throwing a tantrum when it doesn’t get its way, they wrote a story about how there’s something wrong with Apple because its employees keep their mouths shut.
Then yesterday, Joe Nocera of the Times published an article explaining why Apple needs to come clean and say what exactly happened to Steve Jobs and what exactly his role in the company will be going forward.
That news, of course, is that Mr. Jobs had a liver transplant a few months ago — news that, once again, was uncovered by the news media rather than being divulged by Apple. And once again we’re left in the dark about what this means. It is a separate problem from the pancreatic cancer he was operated for in 2004? Or does it mean that the cancer has returned — and spread?
Already, he is reportedly back at work. But what does that mean? Is he fully back in the saddle? Is he part time? Is he involved only in big strategic decisions? Is he back to his old micromanaging self? Have we now reached the point, in other words, where his health is impinging on his ability to run Apple? That’s the real question, isn’t it? Are Mr. Jobs’s health problems affecting his work?
Late last night, the hospital where Jobs was treated confirmed that he had undergone a liver transplant and that his prognosis was “excellent.” What else does Nocera need to know? Jobs still hasn’t officially returned to Apple, and Nocera is already jumping the gun with demands that Apple keep the public abreast of what role Jobs will take on when he returns. Seriously?
And then today, we came across another NYT article titled “For Steve Jobs, 35,420 Reasons to Talk“, with the figure referring to the number of people expected to die from Pancreatic cancer this year. The gist of the article is that Steve Jobs should publicly speak out about his illness a means to raise awareness and help fund-raise.
I can only imagine the impact a person of Mr. Jobs’s global stature would have on awareness and fund-raising if he braved public disclosure of his condition. And it would be brave. It isn’t easy to talk about personal health issues under the best of circumstances, let alone with the whole world watching. But people with pancreatic cancer need the kind of Hail Mary pass only a big player like Mr. Jobs could provide.
Am I crazy to think that its completely self-righteous for the author to expect, or perhaps demand, that Jobs start rallying for the cause a mere 2 months out from his surgery? Raising public awareness for any medical condition is always welcome, but that’s not a role everyone is comfortable playing. That’s a decision each individual has to make on their own.
What makes the article all the more strange is that it references a statement from Patter Birsic and Jane Holt, co-founders of the National Pancreas Foundation.
The reality is that celebrities do bring attention to the disease. When they chose to speak publicly about their health, Dr. Pausch and Mr. Swayze performed a tremendous public service. By choosing not to speak publicly about his health, Mr. Jobs has also done a tremendous public service. His choice reminds us that a person’s health is a private matter. We respect that choice, and the right of all patients to choose how they will deal with a very serious, and private, matter.
The bottom line is that health is a private matter, and to publicly demand that someone make their private health condition known to the public is classless, and quite surprising coming from a publication like the New York Times. Perhaps Gruber is on to something when he writes:
The Wall Street Journal’s story Friday night was a huge scoop for them, and I noted in my analysis of it that The New York Times, when they finally ran their first story with the news one day later, clearly could not find a source of their own, attributing the information only to the Journal’s original report. If you know anything at all about the culture of premier news organizations like the Journal and Times, you know how that hurt the Times.
Is the New York Times bitter because it wasn’t able to get the scoop on Jobs’ liver transplant, or am I reading way too much into things? Hit up the comments below and either pat me on the back or rip me a new one.