I have been quite vocal about the fact that I believe Apple is justified in its lawsuit against Think Secret for violation of trade secrets (see Apple, Think Secret and Non-Disclosure Agreements and How Think Secret ruined Apple’s surprise party), and I further have been skeptical at the arguments I’ve ready about how bloggers should be considered the new journalists and should therefore enjoy all the protections under the law that journalists and reporters enjoy.
But maybe, just maybe, I’m wrong about bloggers and journalism.
This morning I read Apple’s Lawsuits to Guard Its Secrets Leave Mac Faithful With Bitter Taste in the LA Times that’s so badly reported and so overtly one-sided that I’m now being forced to rethink my perspective on bloggers versus journalists.
Here’s the thing: if I write an article for my weblog that’s one-sided, trackbacks and comments (not to mention technorati and its ilk) allow bloggers with alternative perspectives to leave sufficient cookie crumbs that readers can find that there are different perspectives, different interpretations and different opinions about the subject.
Newspapers don’t have that structure and are inherently flawed (or skewed). Sure, you could write a letter to the editor, but someone finding this article in the LA Times won’t think to come back in a week and find out that there were other sides to the story, sides that Times staff writer Terril Yue Jones should have dug up and presented in this article.
And what side of the story is missing here? That there are a lot of Apple customers who don’t view Apple as “the evil emperor” (give me a break, jeez, what terrible, inflamatory reporting!) but instead as a company acting in a sensible, if uncomfortable manner to protect its trade secrets and retain its right to determine when it, as a company, wants to release information about future products.
But that side isn’t covered at all, in the zeal to create a readable story. Look at the wording in the piece. Apple isn’t doing what every corporation does when faced with the leaks of confidential information, it’s “riled” that details were released.
People like fan-site webmaster Jason O’Grady who is named in one of the lawsuits, for goodness sake! are interviewed and when Jason says “I’m getting the message from people saying they’re not going to buy any more Apple stuff” it’s quoted without any attempt to substantiate it, and without noting that Apple’s sales continue to climb, quarter after quarter, as it releases popular new products, with no precipitous drop in sight.
Thank goodness that Macworld Magazine’s Jason Snell is also interviewed, but his comments don’t refute or rebut the inflammatory “people aren’t going to buy apple stuff now” quote.
Further, consider the very structure of the story: sarcastic description of the lawsuits (Apple is “riled”) followed by extensive and unsubstantiated quotes from someone named in one of the Apple lawsuits mingled with negative comments from a so-called industry analyst, followed ‘below the fold’ (you journalist-types know what I mean here) by some additional views.
Nowhere along the way, however, is there even a hint that there might be Apple fan sites — like this Weblog — that support Apple in its lawsuit and believe that the violation of product secrecy was inappropriate.
And, finally, it’s ironic that not only is there no way to leave a comment on this story at the LA Times web site, but there’s not even a link to send a note to the reporter, a reporter who will, I imagine, remain completely ignorant of this article and its criticism of this terrible reporting.
That’s what makes me think that bloggers as journalists might just be worth thinking about. If I don’t like what Times staff writer Terril Yue Jones writes, there’s almost nothing I can do about it. But if I don’t like what you, fellow blogger, writes, I can respond and trust that through one mechanism or another our articles will become linked and offer a more informative, more holistic, set of perspectives on the topic.