Now the morning after it hits me how new this is, because Apple usually communicates through bigpub reporters like John Markoff at the NY Times and Steven Levy at Newsweek. This time he went direct, Markoff’s article appeared this morning, more than 12 hours after the essay was published, and makes clear how much better this system is than the old one.
Actually, not so. Jobs has been going direct for years, with his speeches to Apple acolytes several times a year at various Apple conferences. The company’s (i.e. his) paranoid secrecy is specifically designed to hype those speeches, where most of Apple’s real news is released.
True, Jobs does occasionally bring a favored big-journalism reporter into the tent for a preview, but almost never to actually announce something via that reporter’s news outlet. Rather, it’s to amplify the news.
Other CEOs have offered up open letters before, too, such as the letter on net neutrality last year by Google’s Eric Schmidt, who got some attention in the press. CEOs don’t do it ever day, and when they do it’s usually to rebut or clarify something already in the public arena.
In each case, though — and this is where Dave is entirely right — they are in part going around the traditional media, being their own journalists, in effect. They want to get their message directly to the people who care most about it, and not allow professional journalists to massage it on the way. This is what Sun Microsystems’ Jonathan Schwartz does all the time in his blog, though he’s not normally using it to push major changes in the business models of another industry.
The Net is the first medium to make this affordable and practical — especially because when someone says something newsworthy, as Jobs did, the blogosphere and major media alike, along with people on discussion boards and mail lists, pounce on it and analyze every word. This combines amplification with dissection, and in the end we have news that is more thoroughly understood than just about any other kind.
The CEO today who doesn’t route around the traditional press on some issues is making a big mistake.