Our source was first approached this week by NBC for what a producer called a "feature" on Jobs, but later admitted was an advance obituary. Then a CBS news producer called and also requested an interview on Jobs that when pressed, they admitted too was also an advance obituary for the ailing Jobs.
Newspapers and wire services prepare obituaries far in advance that can sometimes sit on the shelves for years. Sometimes it can lead to embarrassment, such as when Bloomberg News inadvertently released a canned obituary for Jobs. And while TV news operations are quick to prepare packages of archival footage if they so much as hear a famous person is ailing, actually taping interviews for those packages is more difficult. Even if news producers can find people willing to talk about someone as if he were dead on camera, it's expensive to send out camera crews to gather footage that might go stale.
Jobs, who is on a six-month medical leave, has said he expects to return to work after dealing with a medical problem he first characterized as a "hormonal imbalance," but later admitted was more complex. In 2003, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, and underwent surgery to treat it in 2004; most observers believe his present problems stem from aftereffects of the surgery, which likely involved a Whipple procedure, a rewiring of the digestive tract akin to a gastric bypass.
Is Jobs dying? No major TV network has reported that. But those same networks' producers must believe it is likely enough to roll their cameras.