Fame has its perks. The famous usually get paid very well, they are allowed greater access to most anything and they seldom have to worry about how what they’re doing is being received, as we’re always willing to tell them.
There are two kinds of fame. The first is the traditional way, where a person’s accomplishment brings them fame. Whether they invented something, were elected to a high office or did a great job running a well known company, this kind of fame can often be planned for and somewhat managed.
The second kind of the people that are famous for being famous. Whether they are from the Jersey Shore cast, a rich heiress or made a sex tape, these people are often unprepared for the challenges they face.
We used to treat these two kinds of people differently. As a society, we often felt that those who earned their fame deserved at least some level of respect or privacy. I acknowledge that it’s often hard to feel sorry for famous and successful people, but there are some things that should always be off limits.
Steve Jobs, co-founder of Apple and one of the main reasons for Apple’s current dominance, is dying. He had a liver transplant a few years ago and was recently seen entering a cancer clinic. For both Apple fans and haters, this is not a good thing, as the one thing both sides agree on is that a healthy Jobs is good for the industry as a whole, and his very existence shouldn’t be the source of rampant speculation.
But the “news” and rumor sites don’t think so. While I agree with the Macalope’s statement that reporting he was seen entering a clinic is certainly newsworthy, publishing reports of exactly how long he may have to live is disgusting.
While there may be no one to specifically blame here, this is easily the worst example of what happens when page views and popularity become the driving force behind what’s newsworthy. Journalism may be dying, but dammit, you wouldn’t have seen any “How long can Steve Jobs stick around” type headlines on the New York Times or even the New Times (hopefully).
As an industry tasked with controlling the type of information that is available to the public, it’s important that anyone who has a problem with this type of “reporting” make their thoughts known.
The price of fame is high, but it shouldn’t cost your dignity.
No argument at all that our society is obsessed with celebrities and that the papparazzi go way too far in satiating that hunger.
When it comes specifically to Jobs though, I’d argue that he basically waved a red flag in the bull ring by being so secretive about his health and so controlling of his company. Why not disclose the facts? Why not give more control of Apple over to his staff?
Jobs created a world where the company depends on him and he makes every important decision even while on medical leave. Of course the world is going to obsessed with his health. There is no clear successor and the stock is trading at $354 a share.
Jobs is an American icon and I wish him peace and health. But I’m not impressed with his management style. Only with his innovative genius.
As a cancer survivor and healthcare PR pro, I’d like to address this from the patient perspective.
Reporting how long famous people may live, or seeking exclusive photos of patients undergoing treatment, isn’t new for the National Enquirer, which generated this coverage. I’ve had to take extreme measures at times to protect the privacy of both adults and children from their despicable tactics.
They use sophisticated technology to stalk their victims, and today their content is picked up and spread on the Internet instead of just being in their print version and ignored by other media.
You can’t imagine the pain this type of activity inflicts on the patient and the family. I’ve seen big, burly strong men in tears when families were blindsided and their anguish was compounded in ways they never imagined. It’s deplorable.