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Reflections On Steve Jobs' Death


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Dear friends,

"Steve Jobs has died...of pancreatic cancer," Scott Pelley said just a few minutes ago on CBS.

I spent most of my life working in journalism--both as a reporter and as a teacher. The first thing my first editor told me was it is more important to get it right than to be first in print. The first thing I taught my students about being a reporter is always get the facts right. Being first is not as important as getting it right.

Getting the facts right means the truth matters to you. Getting the facts wrong sends the message that you don't care about the truth. And journalism trades on its credibility.

Tonight CBS gave me one more reason not to trust them. But this one hurt more than the other betrayals of the mainstream media.

Steve Jobs did not die of pancreatic cancer. He died of neuroendocrine cancer that originated in his pancreas. That may, to some, seem a fine distinction. It is not. Had he had pancreatic cancer he would have been dead several years ago. The liver transplant that bought him several years of life would have done nothing for him.

I have seen a death from pancreatic cancer. it is not an easy one. But death from NEC is even more difficult. Those extra years of life likely came with a steep final cost.

Steve Jobs was a noble human being. He did a lot of things that created the world we live in. His popularization of the graphical user interface changed the way people used computers. It made possible desktop publishing--which started a revolution that leads inexorably to this page--and everything else we see on the internet. Without DTP the content of the Internet is controlled by the same handful of organizations that control both the print and the broadcast media. He saw a need for ultra small computing that led to the Blackberry which led to the iPhone which led to the iPad and will lead us god only knows where. In many respects, his vision is, technologically, the world we live in today.

Arguably, there is no Arab spring without Steve Jobs, no occupation of Wall Street. Where those things will lead none of us knows. But to the extent that good grows out of them, Steve Jobs will have had a hand in it.

Jobs led a life that mattered. His death matters. What he died from matters.

Just as Jane led a life that mattered. Her death mattered. What she died from matters.

When the news media get it wrong they condemn others to the deaths these two great minds suffered. As one who has witnessed death from this disease far too closely and far too personally, I can tell you that CBS' blunder is deeply disturbing.

It is disturbing to me as a reporter because ethically I have an ongoing love affair with truth and accuracy. It is disturbing to me as a citizen because I need to be able to rely on the professional media to tell me the truth about events I cannot be physically present to witness.

And it is disturbing to me as an advocate for a disease about which the general public is unaware because it makes my job more difficult. When you are hunting horses disguised as zebras, it doesn't help when the media calls them antelope.

Peace,

Harry

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I just watched a http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1R-jKKp3NA. He talks at some length about facing death, as he had to when diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

From that speech:

"For the past 33 years I've looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself, if today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today? And whenever the answer has been 'no' for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something. Remembering that I'll be dead soon is the most important tool I've ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything, all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure, these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

and

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition; they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

Ron B.

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Dear HAP,

I hear your pain. Losing my father to cancer made me wonder about how so much funding that goes to breast cancer, but I hardly ever hear about fund raising to support the fight for other forms of cancer. Cancer can hit anyone at any time, any moment.

What I see as opportunity to learn from Steve Jobs is his desire and passion for innovation and looking for the next thing. A true sense of vision can take anyone far down the road. Steve loved what he did, he had a passion for it. We have a passion for something, we should look into it and add fuel to the idea.

Grieving the loss of someone close to us, makes us even more aware of the fact that tomorrow is promised for no one. Living a life that matters, is important. It is a good reminder that every minute, every second of our lives matters, lets make it count.

-L

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I saw that video on TV tonight. What a great message to give to college grads...and what a great message for each of us and for everyone. Frequently when I work with a client, I would suggest they write their own obituary as a means of getting them to look at how they wish to spend the brief time we have on this planet. Bill's death (my husband) 18 months ago has certainly changed me forever and put life on this planet in perspective. What is important has changed forever.

Mary

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Dear Harry,

You are absolutely right about CBS. If they cannot get that right what else have they gotten wrong. The world lost a true visionary in Steve Jobs. My Aunt, Her Husband Leroy Nipper, had a nephew that done the hard wirer work with Jobs in the garage in California, on the very first prototypes to come out of Apple, I do not remember how long he worked withe Mr. Jobs, but it was a few years. Then one day he just quite. He was a genius. With circuit boards. He moved back to Kansas and became a recluse. Living alone never leaving his trailer he live in. One day they had not heard from him in awhile, and found him dead from a self inflected gunshot to the head. I guess the pressure he was under out in California, gave him a break down. Steve Jobs will go down in history with the likes of Einstein , and Newton.

God Bless

Dwayne

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Anderson Cooper did well covering Jobs tonight and he had Sanjay Gupta MD on to explain the type of cancer Jobs had. I liked the video of Jobs at Stanford talking about doing what we love each day. Mary

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Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart."

and

"Your time is limited, so don't waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma, which is living with the results of other people's thinking. Don't let the noise of other's opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition; they somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."

Wow, thanks for posting Ron. I just love the quotes above, amazing just like the man himself.

I felt my heart strings pulled on hearing about Steve Jobs. I don't know him, only ever knew of him, didn't follow or watch his launches of products etc yet somehow I have tears over this since hearing. I think maybe because he was young, knowing another family has now joined our club, knowing another Daddy has been taken from this world too soon is hitting me hard.

RIP Mr.Jobs and my heart goes out to your family

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