Monday, July 28, 2008

Cancer: the privacy vs. honesty argument

There has been a lot of hype and noise surrounding Steve Jobs' appearance at the WWDC conference and not just because of the new iPhone launch either. His gaunt appearance started a furore amongst the tech analysts and journalists as to how his health was, it was material they claimed.

Thus the setting was established for a interesting battle over someone's privacy and control versus the media herd wanting 'honesty'. Yet, Jobs has been very honest up front - his surgery for early stage pancreatic cancer is well known, no more need be said it's a private matter after that.

SAN FRANCISCO - JUNE 6:  (FILE PHOTO) Apple CE...Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The same journalists who praise research and information about stocks should practice what they preach and check out pancreatic cancer, it's all in the public domain. Fifteen minutes spent researching and reading about the topic would tell them all they need to know, without the rather distasteful and rather slimey hounding that is going on at present. Perhaps it's laziness, but sometimes I'm surprised that people who claim to be experts in one area cannot be bothered to research another in the public domain. It makes you wonder what their motives are, especially in the middle of a new product launch for the 3G iPhone.

Take another recent example, Prof Randy Pausch, who sadly died this week from pancreatic cancer. Late last year he gave an inspirational lecture at Carnegie Mellon University but made it clear up front what he wanted to talk about and what was off limits, ie his cancer and his family. His boundaries, like Jobs, on privacy were clear just as the initial medical condition was in both situations. After that, it's nobody's business, you can make your own judgements and act accordingly.

This issue is not about control or honesty, it's about money and greed for the investors. A little bit of research goes a long way, even the analysts will tell a novice investor that, so it cuts both ways.

We also have to remember that the media prey on negative news and 'noise' to generate interest and readership. You don't see much cheerful or good news do you? It's negative and fearful. Good news doesn't sell. Sadly.

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Ann Godridge said...

It doesn't seem like any of us have any privacy any more; employers read our emails, there are cameras everywhere. Perhaps we have just started to get used to it?

In some ways I suppose it's only to be expected; completely wrong and horrible but not surprising

Sarah & Kevin Arrow said...

Great article Sally.
Boundaries are being crossed all the time, and work is merging into home life and vice versa. This is having such a negative impact on people.
People, investors, journalists, all should be more respectful. One day it might be them.

Sally Church said...

Ladies, I agree with both of you but it seems the venture capitalists and Wall Street guys felt it was material if Jobs' health was deteriorating.

There is no concrete evidence of that and Apple have decided to reveal no further information from a privacy standpoint. A storm in a teacup as they say.