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How news gets made (Or, Dan Lyons on Valleywag on Steve Jobs)

Sometimes how the news gets made is more interesting than the news itself.

I like Dan Lyons' blog much more now than when he was writing as Fake Steve Jobs. Same bite and same insight without the noise.

Take, for example, a post today on Valleywag's complaint about how Apple PR is managing information relative to Steve Jobs' health. I made an unfortunate decision to post on the subject earlier, got swatted by Tom Krazit, and now am following it from the sidelines.

Those sidelines, incidentally, are fascinating, as Dan's post suggests. Dan is a veteran news reporter and talks through how the Jobs story is playing out, by whom, and why:

[John] Markoff is a great guy and knows tech better than almost any other reporter on the beat, but he's also one of the reporters Apple views as friendly and trustworthy, which in the Valley means he can be counted on to play ball. Make of that what you will but there's a reason this story leaked out in the Times and under Markoff's byline, and it isn't because he's such a dogged, hard-nosed investigative reporter who's breaking down doors to get at the truth. Ahem....

You think it's a coincidence that just as the Journal was breaking its story about hedge funds hiring private detectives, Markoff at the Times happened to run into some "people close to Mr. Jobs" who knew about Steve's surgery and were willing to tell John Markoff all about it? Right. None of this is happening by accident. Apple PR is playing the Valley press corps, and the Valley press corps is going along with it, like they always do. Not so the hedge fund guys, who have real money at stake and don't care if someone like Katie Cotton [Apple's head of PR] yells at them. Frankly I'd be shocked if the hedge fund guys didn't already have people posted 24×7 at the Stanford Medical Center.

Fascinating, and I don't mean Steve Jobs' health. It's a fascinating glimpse into how PR works in the Big Leagues, from the pen of someone who has been involved in the thick of it for a very long time. Worth a full read.