Hey New York Times: Go after Apple

Hey New York Times: Go after Apple

: The New York Times is editorializing up a storm trying to extend journalists’ shield laws to the federal level and to protect its reporter, Judith Miller, who’s headed to jail for not revealing a confidential source.

Well, The Times should stand up to editorialize and fight for equal protection for the citizen journalists — the fellow journalists — being sued by Apple as it seeks the sites’ sources of leaked information.

It’s the least The Times can do for putting down citizen journalists again and again (today’s: “the so-called blogosphere”). It’s the least The Times can do to protect the future of news.

The EFF has stepped up to represent the two bloggers — at AppleInsider and Powerpage.

The EFF countered saying bloggers’ sources are protected by the same laws that protect sources providing information to journalists.

“Bloggers break the news, just like journalists do. They must be able to promise confidentiality in order to maintain the free flow of information,” EFF Staff Attorney Kurt Opsahl said in a statement. “Without legal protection, informants will refuse to talk to reporters, diminishing the power of the open press that is the cornerstone of a free society.”

Steve Safran at LostRemote calls for a boycott of Apple coverage. Calacanis is fuming at Steve Jobs. Staci Kramer at PaidContent piles on. Ditto Dan Gillmor.

Now it’s time for The New York Times to join the parade to protect journalists, all journalists, under shield laws.

Of course, Apple should be forever ashamed of itself. The company has been built on its cult-love status: exactly what motivates customers and bloggers to try to find out what the company is going to do next.

But Steve Jobs and Apple are control freaks.

They should be freaks about giving their customers control.

: UPDATE: Forgot to link the NY Times news coverage today. The story’s good. It’s the editorial I’m waiting to read, though.

: WEDNESDAY UPDATE: Jonathan Miller (who writes for the NYT) leaves this good comment:

I think you’re getting a little too exercised over the NYT, Jeff. Recall just a few years ago the case of Vanessa Leggett, the ‘non-journalist’ who was jailed for failing to give up a source? The editors came out very strongly against prosecutors. Here is an excerpt from 2001:

“Integral to our freedom of the press is the notion that the First Amendment protects those who are engaged in journalism, not those certified as journalists by the government. If the government refuses to recognize a fledgling freelancer as a real journalist, it may next decree that someone who works for a small newspaper also fails to make the grade.”

I’d hardly categorize that as “putting down citizen journalists again and again.”

  • http://homepages.nyu.edu/~mtz206/ Michael Zimmer

    It’s the least The Times can do for putting down citizen journalists again and again (today’s: “the so-called blogosphere”
    This is only a put-down if you’re really really trying hard to find one. The word “blogosphere” is hardly common parlance (yet), and seems appropriate for it to be labeled as “so-called” – just as they probably wrote “so-called cyberspace” back in 1994.

  • daudder

    journalists do not have, and should not have, the right to obstruct justice, or shield law breakers.
    If they can only do their job by giving cover to people who break laws, they should do something else.

  • http://homepages.nyu.edu/~mtz206/ Michael Zimmer

    Of course, Apple should be forever ashamed of itself. The company has been built on its cult-love status: exactly what motivates customers and bloggers to try to find out what the company is going to do next.
    So, they should never have trade secrets? Or be allowed to “time” their product announcements? The bottom line is that Apple is a corporation like any other – cult origins or not – and they have a responsiblity to their shareholders. Properly executed releases and marketing – in their eyes – is vital to the company’s success, no?

  • Rootbeer

    Whose fault is it that Apple’s marketing schedule was compromised — the publishers and pundits at the Apple rumor blogs, or the Apple insider(s) who leaked information to one or more of those blogs?
    I say the latter.

  • http://homepages.nyu.edu/~mtz206/ Michael Zimmer

    Right, Rootbeer. See this:
    “The company has been on the defensive since last month when lines of code of its upcoming operating system code-named Tiger were prematurely circulated publicly. Apple sued three members of its own Apple Developer Connection (ADC) for downloading and distributing the latest builds through peer-to-peer network BitTorrent.”

  • http://www.martinstabe.com/blog Martin

    If they can only do their job by giving cover to people who break laws, they should do something else.
    Two words: Pentagon Papers. Using material from sources who break the law or breach contracts to blow the whistle or reveal secret material are fundimental to a free press. Without it, many of the great stories would never have come to light.
    Therefore, there must be some legal mechanism for journalists or bloggers to “shield law breakers” when that law breaking is done in the public interest.
    We can argue all we want about who gets to define “public interest” or whether betraying Apple’s trade secrets is truly in the public interest, warrenting the leak (I doubt it). But we can’t pretend a bigger principle isn’t at stake in these cases, or that secrecy enforced by law or contract should be absolute.

  • http://blogoland.blogspot.com Jon

    I think you’re getting a little too exercised over the NYT, Jeff. Recall just a few years ago the case of Vanessa Leggett, the ‘non-journalist’ who was jailed for failing to give up a source? The editors came out very strongly against prosecutors. Here is an excerpt from 2001:
    “Integral to our freedom of the press is the notion that the First Amendment protects those who are engaged in journalism, not those certified as journalists by the government. If the government refuses to recognize a fledgling freelancer as a real journalist, it may next decree that someone who works for a small newspaper also fails to make the grade.”
    I’d hardly categorize that as “putting down citizen journalists again and again.”