Tennessee media apparently don’t believe Steve Jobs’ liver transplant is a story, much less a local story


About 11 p.m., Friday, WSJ.com broke a story about
Steve Jobs having a liver transplant in Tennessee.
12 hours later, no Tennessee media outlet has
picked up the story or has sought to answer the obvious questions:

Where (what hospital)? and Why in Tennessee?

[Please note: I have updated this item with a follow-up post 24-hours later.]

I’m not in the “all old media is dead” camp, but I’ve been known to rant about the demise of daily newspapers.

Back in the day when I cared, I would read and watch and follow local news sources because they were the ears to the ground of what was happening in my city and region and neighborhood. “Local” was their franchise. And when I say “local,” I mean, even when the story was clearly a national story, there was always a race by hometown reporters to find “the local angle” on national and international news — so that we could relate to it better; more personally.

About 12 hours ago, the Wall Street Journal broke a major story that obviously has a local angle for my hometown or state. I assumed that by now, I would be seeing some local media coverage of the story. But I was wrong.

The story was that Apple CEO Steve Jobs underwent a liver transplant in Tennessee two months ago. I was first alerted of the news via Twitter by Worth Baker – @worthbak, a young Nashville friend of mine (since he was born) who is now a student at Middlebury.

The WSJ news item included the report that the transplant took place in Tennessee, but did not identify the specific town or hospital. I recalled that a Mac-o-sphere rumor had swirled around a few months ago about Jobs purchasing a house in Memphis, so I googled a few relevant links on that topic and posted them to Twitter. I also noted that only two hospitals in the state do adult liver transplates, Vanderbilt in Nashville and Methodist-University in Memphis. (And me being me — and it was rather late, I re-tweeted a typical Nashville vs. Memphis dis-joke my friend Worth had zinged. [Roughly: Which is worse, having a liver transplant or having to spend time in Memphis? — if you live somewhere and have a “rival” town, you get the cliché. In reality, Nashville and Memphis get along fine.])

Last night, the Twitter chatter exploded about the operation with, frankly, nothing new coming out, so I didn’t check back online about the story until this morning — thinking by now that at least there would be reports. As of 11 a.m., there was no local coverage (and just one of the websites linked to the wire headline) of the story in any of the following: Memphis Business Journal, Memphis Commerical Appeal, Nashville Tennessean, Nashville City Paper, Nashville City Post or Venturenashville. (If necessary, I’ll post the screengrabs I made at 11 a.m.).

Granted, the Tennessee location of the transplant its not a major part of the story in a macro sense. But to me it is.

If Jobs had the liver transplant operation in Nashville, it would have taken place within a few blocks of my office — I would think it’s local. If he had it in Memphis, the swirling questions of “why in Memphis?” and “why in Tennessee” would (and are) a local question.

The original Wall Street Journal piece included speculation that Tennessee has fewer transplant candidates on a waiting list. Is that true? If so, why?

This is a local story that someone needs to find and tell.

Isn’t that what newspapers and other local media used to do?

If not, why do they whine all the time about not getting paid?

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  • It definitely was a well-kept secret, happening some two months. i think the state’s media was just caught flat-footed on that one.

  • @jack – I’m not directing my rant (if that’s what it is) to the rumor-tracking of two months ago. I’m just wondering why there’s not reporting today.

  • joeP

    Jobs is a national personality, because of iPod & iPhone — yes. But non-tech industry civilian types aren’t interested in him the way they are in movie stars.

    It doesn’t surprise me that local TN papers didn’t cover this. For the non-tech-obsessed, it’s not that big a story.

  • @joeP – Those same local papers who aren’t tech-obsessed ran stories about people lining up to purchase new iPhones on the same day. Also, another company Steve Jobs is associated with, Pixar, has a movie called Up that is drawing huge crowds in Tennessee. The point of my story, however, is that Jobs is a national personality, but the hospital and doctor angle is a local story. If one of the worlds most powerful, best-known, successful and creative business leaders chooses to have a life-saving medical procedure in a hospital in your town, it’s something local readers will find interesting.

  • I couldn’t agree more with pointing out the obvious – where was the local coverage? As much as news is “leaked”, much involving healthcare and celebrities, I can only surmise that either exception to the rule was in play here, or maybe hospital staff didn’t realize who Jobs is, and his global effect on today’s communications.

  • joeP

    Of course civilians like iPhones & Pixar movies.

    You & I love tech and follow these things. But believe it or not, we aren’t the norm…

  • Jerry Dunaway

    I’ve been living in Nashville for about five years now. I read last weekend it was supposed to have happened here (I assume Vandy, but maybe Baptist). My guess would be that since he’s not a movie star or a musician, the Tennessean probably figured it wasn’t worthwhile…

  • Anonymous

    thinking by now that at least there would be reportsnnnFind more jobs: http://www.staffingpower.com/nnnn