Bloggers: Journalists or Jailbirds? A First Amendment question…

Let me preface today’s post with a statement about my bias toward Apple: I’ve worked for the company; use their products; am delighted with Apple’s user interface and their awesome use of a Unix core; and am a stockholder (and done pretty well with the stock recently too!).

All that said, I must admit being dismayed by yesterday’s judicial decision in San Jose, CA which stated that Apple Computer can essentially force three online publishers to surrender the names of confidential sources who disclosed information about Apple’s upcoming products. I’m not alone in my dismay: last December Mitch Ratcliffe wrote an interesting article puzzling over why his beloved Apple would go after their biggest fans.

Apple first tried going after employees and then contractors leaking information. Then they sued developers leaking pre-release versions of the next operating system. I strongly believe that each of these actions was 100% correct and I would’ve done the same. Maybe Steve Jobs is somehow now a proponent of the old marketing saying is there is no such thing as bad press, just make sure you spell my name right.

A FIRST AMENDMENT QUESTION
But going after bloggers because you can’t control the pre-release of information is Apple’s problem…not those publishing the information. But are bloggers journalists? (Phenomenal article here on this question). Should our sources be protected under the First Amendment to the Constitution? If you want to be frightened by what is happening to “real” journalists (those working for legacy media) and what they are facing in the court’s, you have to read this article.

In the past, protection for “real” journalists has been spotty at best and there has been a lot of energy by command-and-control to curtail the watchdogging by the mainstream press. I could write for some time about the numerous simultaneous moves made by our present federal government administration to position itself inside the legal gray areas so as to be able to control, sort, filter and mine data — allegedly to ferret out terrorism. The multitude of control measures that have been put in to place and are being instituted make yesterday’s development (lack of First Amendment protection for web sites/bloggers leaking information) an essential first step toward a command-and-control strategy that will stop any grassroots journalism efforts.

Beijing would be so proud.

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About Steve Borsch

Strategist. Learner. Idea Guy. Salesman. Connector of Dots. Friend. Husband & Dad. CEO. Janitor. More here.

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