James Rainey revisits the less appealing side of Steve Jobs in a Saturday media column that portrays the late Apple leader as a press manipulator who attacked reporters unfairly and punished critics or anyone who veered from the company line. The column also chides the sycophants in the media who aspired to Jobs' favor. Excerpt:
The wave of coverage of Jobs' death this week at 56 rightfully centered on the products he created and the way they enhanced people's lives. That narrative won't be easily shifted; nor should it be.
But the glowing elegies came courtesy of reporters who — after deadline and off the record — would tell stories about a company obsessed with secrecy to the point of paranoia. They remind us how Apple shut down a youthful fanboy blogger, punished a publisher that dared to print an unauthorized Jobs biography and repeatedly ran afoul of the most basic tenets of a free press.
The tactics also created a perverse climate of breathless, under-informed speculation every time an Apple pod, pad or book was due for a launch or modification — which was essentially all the time. Addition of a data port on one device could draw oohs and ahhs in multiple stories.
"Not only did [Apple] introduce actually innovative products," Dan Gillmor, a longtime Silicon Valley reporter, said via email, "but it had the uncanny ability to get normally skeptical journalists to sit up and beg like a bunch of pet beagles."
Jobs' upcoming biographer, Walter Isascson, writes in the new issue of Time: "The saga of Steve Jobs is the Silicon Valley creation myth writ large: launching a start-up in the proverbial garage and building it into the world's most valuable company. He didn't invent many things outright, but he was a master at arranging ideas, art and technology in ways that repeatedly invented the future." The rest is behind a pay wall.