Apple’s Reasonable Judgment.

Is anyone else getting more and more disturbed by Apple?

The Nieman Journalism Lab’s Laura McGann has a disturbing report that ought to perk up every news organization that sees Apple’s iPad as part of its future.

McGann talked to Mark Fiore, who won a Pulitzer this week for his trenchant editorial cartoons. Apple has denied his iPhone (and thus iPad) application because in the mega-corporation’s own words, “it contains content that ridicules public figures” and violates its license, which says (emphasis mine):

Applications may be rejected if they contain content or materials of any kind (text, graphics, images, photographs, sounds, etc.) that in Apple’s reasonable judgement may be found objectionable, for example, materials that may be considered obscene, pornographic, or defamatory.”

“Ridicules public figures” is pretty much top of the job description for editorial cartoonists, who have been a critical part of our free press for a couple of centuries longer than investigative reporters have.

Granted, a big part of the problem here lies less with Apple’s ethos, itself. After all, it’s a huge corporation concerned with a bottom line. The problem is that the press, instead of standing up to the company, continues to salivate over its products, and that many in the industry are hoping the iPad will fuel a new, workable business model for journalism. The other part of the problem is the fact that Apple continues to create products that work really, really well. But I think there’s still plenty to criticize, both about the iPad, specifically, and the brand’s fondness for keeping consumers from going under the hood.

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  • There is unquestionably something deeply flawed in Apple’s App review policies. But the fact if the matter is that Apple already built the perfect means for Fiore to put his content on the iPad; it’s called Mobile Safari.

    There’s a middle ground here between “Apple is evil” and “Apple can do no wrong.”. Anyone who is claiming that the iPad will save journalism is clearly delusional. But at the same time anyone who is claiming Apple has total content control over the iPad is ignoring the real primary content distribution system for the platform, and that is equally disingenuous.

    • shani-o

      I agree that there is a middle ground. But as an iPhone user, I’ve noticed that I rarely open Safari by choice. I’m willing to bet that most users go through apps first, then use the browser. And that’s something Apple has cultivated.

  • The other part of the problem is the fact that Apple continues to create products that work really, really well.

    The key question here is: for whom? The iPad will certainly “work well” for entrenched mass media concerns interested in passive audiences, but what about participatory peons like you and I?

    • shani-o

      I wasn’t specifically talking about the iPad when I said that, although I understand why it reads that way. I’m referring to their product suite as a whole. Frankly, I think the iPad is the weakest product they have out right now.

    • Consumers and specifically casual computer users.

  • I think one reason one media company doesn’t stand up to Apple and its iPad is that there’s no reason to think another company will too. If The New York Times criticizes Apple, Apple can just shrug and say fine, I don’t hear anything from the Wall Street Journal though…

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