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Steve Jobs: Apple and its troubled relationship with the press

A week after Steve Jobs died, reporters, bloggers and commentators are still analyzing how Apple technologies have changed the way we communicate and live. Considering the mark he left on the world of media and gadgets, it is worth examining how Jobs, 56 when he died, dealt with the press.

In an article titled "Steve Jobs and Apple vs. a Free Press," the Los Angeles Times noted how "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 analysis piece concluded, "Steve Jobs appreciated many things, big and small. But a vigorous, unbridled media was not one of them."

For example, in 2005 Apple sued teenage blogger Nick Ciarelli for reporting -- correctly -- that the company was about to launch the Mac Mini, according to Gawker. Eventually settled out of court, Ciarelli ended up permanently shutting down his blog, ThinkSecret. "Apple applies coercive tactics to the press," wrote Gawker's Ryan Tate. "Its first response to stories it doesn't like is typically manipulation and badgering."

In 2010, after an Apple employee left an iPhone prototype in public, the person who found the phone sold it to tech website Gizmodo, which then dismantled the phone and reported on what it found. As a result of the story, police (with a warrant) entered editor Jason Chen's home and seized four computers and two servers, Gizmodo reported back then.

Also, according to MediaBistro, both Gizmodo and technology broadcaster Leo Laporte of, who got in trouble for streaming an Apple press conference, were banned last year from Apple events. "Here’s to Apple and new CEO Tim Cook rebuilding their relationship with the media. You’re going to need us one of these days," author Marcus Vanderberg concluded.

Still, despite such seemingly anti-press actions, at the launch of the iPad, a source told The New York Times that Jobs “believes democracy is hinged on a free press and that depends on there being a professional press,” reported "Anything that we can do to help The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal find new ways of expression so they can afford to get paid, so they can afford to keep their editorial operations intact, I’m all for it,” Jobs said at a 2010 conference, according to Poynter.

Of course, as GigaOM pointed out, Apple's deals with newspaper publishing companies have never been fair. "The reality here is that Apple knows it has most publishers over a barrel," Mathew Ingram wrote for GigaOM. "Magazine and newspaper companies are desperate to find some way of charging their readers, and Apple provides the easiest method of doing so. But the walled garden that Apple gives them access to, while very inviting and pleasant and well-maintained, comes with some serious trade-offs."


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