Gossip site Valleywag likely sent the Apple faithful into a near panic late Monday when it reported that ailing Apple CEO Steve Jobs had supposedly checked himself into Stanford Hospital over the weekend in anticipation of an apparent surgical procedure Monday.
It is not clear what Jobs may have been getting surgery for. However doctors–who, it must be noted, have no specific knowledge of Jobs’ condition–have speculated that he may be suffering from liver cancer, and may be in need of a transplant.
Cancer is nothing new to Jobs: he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003, although it was not publicly disclosed until a year later. The issue of secrecy around his health has also irked investors, who argue that Apple may be running afoul of disclosure laws.
There was only one problem with the Valleywag reporting, and it comes from this line from their post:
At a party in Silicon Valley last night, a Stanford staffer who had just come from the hospital told friends, including our source, about the “extra special care” being afforded their famous patient.
That’s right: this post was based on a third-person account of what somebody said at a party.
Mike Arrington at TechCrunch, who’s also sick (but with the flu) gets a little miffed about this latest round of reports on Jobs’ health and has his own rumor–that Jobs was at his Apple office yesterday:
That kind of stuff is fine when it’s a funding rumor and the flimsiness of it is disclosed. But we’re talking about someone’s very personal life here – someone who has repeatedly requested privacy.
While I do side with those saying that Apple should be more forthcoming with Jobs’ condition, shoddy reporting is shoddy reporting. I have a single golden rule for “scoop” journalism. Anything I get must come from a direct source with exact knowledge of what they are telling me. No friend of a friend stuff.
Remember Whisper Down The Line? Remember how often things get messed up on the way? Exactly.