Blogger, or journalist? What does it matter?
by Chris Roush
Arik Hesseldahl of BusinessWeek laments the impending demise of the Think Secret blog, apparently as part of its settlement with Apple. The blog had been a source of information about the company.
Hesseldahl wrote, “This is a dark day for Internet journalism. Of all the rumor sites out there, Think Secret had the best hit record, and very often had a fairly accurate rundown on the contents of a Steve Jobs keynote a day or two beforehand. Of course this fact, and its reporting of accurate details, garnered in part by Apple employees willing to leak finally brought the hammer down. Apple sued Think Secret in 2005 seeking the names of sources who gave Think Secret details about an unreleased product.
“Now if this had happened to me, and I had published the information (which I would have) Iâ€™d be on solid legal ground, because, see, Iâ€™m a ‘journalist’ who works for an Internationally known business publication. Ciarelli is a ‘blogger,’ Apple has argued, and thereâ€™s a difference. I get protection from the U.S. Constitution, and Ciarelli, well heâ€™s just some guy in a basement with an Internet connection.
“The problem with that argument is that the lines between journalists and ‘bloggers’ (Iâ€™m both?) are incredibly grey now. And I donâ€™t think the First Amendment applies any differently to a person based on the size of their printing press or the number of hits they get on their Web site. It seems to me Appleâ€™s getting away with deciding who the First Amendment applies to and who it doesnâ€™t. And I happen to think thatâ€™s lousy. Iâ€™m sorry to see Think Secret go, and hope the same thing doesnâ€™t happen to PowerPage and Appleinsider, the other rumor sites Apple has sued. I can see why Nick settled. Heâ€™s a young guy, and has been tied up with this thing now for nearly three years. But this sets a bad precedent.”
Read more here.