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Ousted; WSJ Reporter Gets the Boot Shortly After Arguing With Steve Jobs

Journalists are supposed to be critics, right? They question assumptions and ask for clarification. It’s part of the job title, but apparently you better watch your words at the Wall Street Journal, particularly when talking to Apple CEO Steve Jobs.

Valleywag reports that Gordon McLeod, a four-year veteran at the paper, is leaving, and it’s not by coincidence that his departure comes three months after he argued with Jobs at a News Corp. retreat.

Here’s the rundown of what happened from Valleywag’s Ryan Tate:

“In a Q&A session with the assembled executives and managers, including Journal editors, Jobs railed against the apps newspapers like the Journal have created for his iPad. Their interfaces are terrible, he said, and their content is all too often limited . That the Journal’s archrival the New York Times was among those singled out for criticism — Jobs hates the limited NYT Editors’ Choice app — must have helped take the sting off. And Jobs did praise the WSJ’s iPad app as very attractive. But the CEO also said the app was too slow, essentially calling it a clunky reading experience.

“It was on this point that McLeod, who wouldn’t comment for this post, is said to have engaged with Jobs. As president of the Wall Street Journal Digital Network, McLeod was at least a player on the paper’s iPad strategy as well as a spokesman for it. It’s not clear whether the Time Inc veteran got into it with Jobs during the more public Q&A or in a more private meeting afterward, but there was definitely a back and forth between the two men in front of other News Corp. hands: Word of McLeod’s purportedly impertinent comments challenging Jobs ricocheted around the company almost instantly.”

Tate reports that the argument led, in part, to McLeod’s departure because News Corp.’s Rupert Murdoch has quite the admiration for Jobs. But staffers also admitted that McLeod wasn’t the best fit for WSJ. Wow, Jobs really is changing the face of journalism.

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