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Bullshit Media

Silicon Alley Insider on *that* Steve Jobs rumour

SAI spots an uncorroborated, anonymous post that says Jobs has had a heart attack. Publishes it, causing an immediate drop in Apple share prices. O noes! Uncorroborated, anonymous bollocks turns out to be bollocks!

Time for some retrospective justification:

We viewed it as significant, however, both for those who care about Apple and Steve and as a first meaningful test of “citizen journalism.”

Meaningful test my arse.

A small, vocal minority, however–including some members of the mainstream media–believe we should have waited to comment on the iReport story until we had heard back from Apple.

How about just checking whether there was any likelihood of the story being true? Charles Arthur:

First of all: what time would it be in California, where Jobs lives? Hmm, at 2pm on a Friday in London, it would be at least 8 hours behind – in other words, 6am. That at once gave a doubtful cast to two of the points in that “report”.

Who and where could the “insider” be? Not someone at Apple. While there might be people at 1 Infinite Loop who’d work until 3am or 4am, Jobs wouldn’t. He’s got a family and, well, a life. So he would have been at home. So the “insider” would be inside to what? The hospital? Paramedic dispatch? In which case they either wouldn’t know that it was a major heart attack, or what the symptoms were.

SAI commenter Mark Centz:

Whether journalists are just plain citizens or professionals, there is still the obligation to confirm facts wherever possible.