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Thursday, April 14, 2005

Now the MSM Joins the Side of the Angels in Apple Case, But There is More at Stake

There are new developments in Apple's mis-guided suit against some bloggers, a case which could prove to be a landmark case in the development of reasonable media law precedent for bloggers.

Dan Gillmor has an important observation occasioned by the case, and it is one in which I increasingly share:

"The question of who is a journalist has been basically taken off the table in this case, given the judge's initial ruling that dodged the issue. Now it's about whether any journalist can write or broadcast about something Apple or any company has deemed a trade secret.
"Big journalism organizations are on the case now -- late to the party, I note, having ignored it earlier -- because their own interests have been threatened.
"I'm uncomfortable with the "who's a journalist" question, and am still working on what I think. It's clear to me that we need to separate the who from the what -- that is, we need to protect people who are doing the deed of journalism, as opposed to naming the people we are calling journalists; this is the only sensible approach, if we're going to protect journalism and the public good, in a world where anyone can be a journalist at one time or another."

My initial reaction was to cheer the proposals in Congress to enact a national shield law for journalists. But this observation by Dan, Amy Ridenour's trenchant discussion of the issue earlier this year and comments I've heard from others I respect are making me re-think that support. Not that anybody important cares what I think, but for the record, I am re-thinking the issue.