Are Bloggers Journalists? Guess We’ll Find Out

This frightening story about a blogger who wrote about Apple’s prototype new iPhone and was served a search warrant for the “commission of a felony” is horrifying in its implications. Assuming Jason Chen, the writer for Gizmodo, did not steal the phone, there was absolutely no crime that I can think of. The story I’ve heard is that the iPhone was lost at a bar, someone found it, contacted Gizmodo and then contacted Apple and asked if they wanted their phone back. Apple said yes so Gizmodo sent the phone back. Meanwhile, Gizmodo paid $5,000 to see the phone. Is it possible the $5,000 was somehow criminal? Since it wasn’t payment for stolen property, and since the phone was returned to Apple, I can’t imagine it was a crime of theft.

I’m disturbed by this, particularly since I just read a funny but terrifying article about Apple illustrating the lengths that they will go to maintain utter secrecy. To whit:

In October of 2009, a new application from Apple landed in the U.S. Patent Office. Apple’s idea was to program devices to periodically interrupt users with unskippable ads. The ads would temporarily halt performance of the device in order to “compel attention.” That on its own is pretty nightmarish but, innovators that they are, Apple found a way to crank it up to that hard-to-reach “Lovecraftian” level.

Their words:

“Apple can further determine whether a user pays attention to the advertisement. The determination can include performing, while the advertisement is presented, an operation that urges the user to respond; and detecting whether the user responds to the performed operation. If the response is inappropriate or nonexistent, the system will go into lock down mode in some form or other until the user complies. In the case of an iPod, the sound could be disconnected rendering it useless until compliance is met. For the iPhone, no calls will be able to be made or received.”

Ho-lee shit.

Ho-lee shit is right. That’s freaking evil. Once you sell a product, it belongs to the customer, you don’t get to keep interrupting them with advertising, dickface.

But God I still love Apple products. My MacBook Pro is the best thing that ever happened to my writing career. My two iPods bring me joy every day as I work out. I covet the iPad. So on and so forth. But dude, this control-freak behavior is just crazy.

Back to Jason Chen and the central question his boss at Gizmodo asked: Are bloggers journalists?

I believe so. Good bloggers develop sources and stick to ethical reporting, just as journalists from the old media do. In many cases, bloggers are paid. So why would it be any different than journalism? It’s an honest question because as I think about it, I literally can not think of a single difference in the two.

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