The Weekly Attitudinal: Write Your Own Steve Jobs Story!

It’s easy to get plenty of media attention by writing your own speculative story about the health of Apple’s CEO. Just follow these simple steps.

  1. Imagine some horrible or painful medical condition, preferably one with a reasonably high mortality rate. If your imagination fails you, pick an organ and say that it’s failing.

  2. Call up a doctor or two and ask them if, given the publicly available information about Steve Jobs’s health, they could categorically rule out the condition you have imagined.

    If even one of them cannot, you have your story. If one cannot but others do, you have your story as “Some doctors say this, but others disagree.”

    Be sure, in your story, to conflate “Apple Inc.” with “Steve Jobs,” deliberately ignoring that federal and state privacy laws prevent Apple from disclosing medical information on any employee (including its CEO) without that employee’s permission. The more you spread the blame around, the harder it is for people to see through your story.

    Also, since the media has invested heavily in the fiction that Steve Jobs runs everything at Apple (because it sells copies of stories, which sells ads), be sure to emphasize that, too.

  3. Profit!

Still too difficult for you to cash in on this media bonanza? Fear not—the Attitudinal has you covered! Just use this handy-dandy Steve Jobs Health Story Template® and fill in the blanks as needed!

Apple CEO Steve Jobs May Have ______

Doctors familiar with medicine say that Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who began a six-month medical leave of absence this week, may be suffering from ______.

If true, the condition is far more serious than Apple has previously let on. It could sideline the “World’s Most Important” CEO for longer than he has indicated, or keep him from returning to the Apple helm at all.

Jobs was treated for pancreatic cancer in 2004, and told investors that he had made a full recovery. Nonetheless, his public appearances during 2008 made it clear Jobs was rapidly losing weight, spurring fears that his cancer had returned.

A letter Apple released on January 5 said that Jobs was suffering from a “hormone imbalance. Eight days later, the CEO said his problems were “more complex” and that he would leave the company until June to have them treated, sparking more speculation that Jobs is fatally ill.

”Given his history with pancreatic cancer, it’s impossible to rule out ______,” said Dr. ____, [insert doctor’s title here]. “Cancer can have side effects throughout the body, including in the ______ system. The information he’s provided is just too vague. Only his doctors know for sure.”

The painful surgery Jobs reportedly underwent in 2004 could also have side effects, according to Dr. ______, [insert second doctor’s title here]. “While these procedures are generally safe and well-understood, there’s always the possibility that the body will eventually have problems with such a radical change to the system. If he’s not producing the right hormones [or “enzymes” or “proteins”], it could put stress on the ______ and eventually lead to weight loss and, if not corrected, death.”

While Apple has a deep bench of talent to run the company in his absence, investors and analysts alike speculate that without Jobs at the helm, the company will [eventually/rapidly] decline into the same moribund state it was in before Jobs returned to the CEO’s seat in 1997. Under his watch, Apple released mega-hit products like the iMac, the iPod, and the iPhone, all of which Jobs personally invented while refusing to take credit.

”His long-term absence puts the company’s future in jeopardy,” said ______, an analyst for [insert name of analyst’s Wall Street firm]. “Apple’s in a great position now, and Steve will be involved in major decisions while on medical leave, but if he stays gone longer than six months, or doesn’t come back at all, it’s possible that Apple will again fade into irrelevance. The company really needs a leader that the media can fixate on, because they’ve proven they won’t pay attention to the products without a personality behind them.” [You might have to cut that last sentence for “space” reasons, being a media person yourself who knows that sometimes good quotes have to be cut.]

Jobs, an unnecessarily private man, refused to comment for this story or to release full medical records at our request.

If you can’t even get doctors or analysts to return your calls, or to play along with your speculation, don’t worry! Just say that “some doctors” and “some analysts” speculate these things. If worse comes to worst, just punt and use the passive voice: “There has been speculation that Jobs is suffering from ______ and may not return to Apple.” Easy peasy!

See? Just follow the Attitudinal’s simple rules, as so many huge media writers and outlets already have. Once you know the secrets, the article just writes itself!

The Attitudinal shall bill you later for a very reasonable percentage of your profits from this technique, so what are you waiting for? Go cash in on the biggest media fad of the new year!