Ethics, reporting, and Steve Jobs’ health

Mon, Feb 21, 2011


The past few days we’ve seen a flurry of Steve Jobs health related rumors as a result of alleged spy shots of the Apple CEO leaving a Stanford Cancer clinic. In the wake of that report came an unfounded claim from a ethically-lacking Doctor about Steve Jobs’ prognosis. We chose not to post the details of this claim while other publications did.

To that end, some believe that news publications, in their zeal to report on everything Apple, have crossed the line.

Stephen M. Hackett writes for Forkbombr:

Dear Apple-centric media,

It’s time we had a chat. I think you know what this is about.

Writing about rumors concerning Steve Jobs’ health is not only unprofessional, but it is disrespectful.

I get that a lot of people think that Steve Jobs equals Apple. Not only is that incorrect, but it places an unfair burden on Jobs.

I totally understand that living in the public spotlight means that privacy sometimes is difficult to come by. I really do understand that. But there are still lines. While I find it distasteful, I get that the Mac Rumors1 and Apple Insider teams feels compelled to report that Jobs has been seen at a cancer treatment clinic.

However, linking to stories about how long someone has left to live is a different thing entirely — and is way over the line. Gizmodo, 9 to 5 Mac, Cult of Mac and others all crossed that line today.

(My favorite part is that the original story comes from a tabloid. Way to go, guys.)


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