Audit Notes: Steve Jobs

Here’s Wired’s striking homepage reporting the death of Steve Jobs:

Scroll down and you get gray text with obituary comments from various luminaries.

It’s gorgeous—more like a magazine cover than the jumble of text and pictures we normally see on news sites.

— Brian Lam writes an obit for Jobs and tells some of the backstory on Gizmodo’s infamous scoop on the iPhone 4 found in a bar.

It’s interesting to see a reporter/blogger open up about his relationship with a prominent source and how he regrets his coverage:

I’d walked around justifying how things went down for weeks after that. One day, a veteran reporter friend of mine and I were talking about the situation. At some point he asked me if I realized, irrespective of right or wrong, that we’d caused Apple a lot of trouble. I paused, and thought about Apple and Steve for a little bit, and all the designers and hard working people who built the phone. I said, “Yes.” I started to justify it as the right thing for the readers, and then I stopped. And I just kept thinking about Apple and Steve and how they felt. And thats when I knew my heart was not proud.

I will not regret things professionally. The scoop was big. People loved it. If I could do it again, I’d do the first story about the phone again.

But I probably would have given the phone back without asking for the letter. And I would have done the story about the engineer who lost it with more compassion and without naming him. Steve said we’d had our fun and we had the first story but we were being greedy. And he was right. We were. It was sore winning. And we were also being short sighted. And, sometimes, I wish we never found that phone at all. That is basically the only way this could have been painless. But that’s life. Sometimes there’s no easy way out.

I thought about the dilemma every day for about a year and half. It caused me a lot of grief, and stopped writing almost entirely. It made my spirit weak. Three weeks ago, I felt like I had had enough. I wrote my apology letter to Steve.

(via Felix Salmon)

— I like how Fast Company handles the news of a death we’ve known has been coming for some time.

Everything that needs to be said of Steve Jobs has already been written. Here’s the most meta version of the story you will read online, offline, and everywhere else.

The magazine doesn’t re-report and rehash what others have already reported. It writes its obit by linking to others’ stories.


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Ryan Chittum is a former Wall Street Journal reporter, and deputy editor of The Audit, CJR's business section. If you see notable business journalism, give him a heads-up at Follow him on Twitter at @ryanchittum. Tags: , , , ,