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12/20/2007
01:24 PM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Apple Silences Think Secret

Think Secret, the target of an Apple lawsuit to find out who leaked information to the site, has announced that it has reached a settlement with Apple at the cost of its existence, though not its integrity. Nick Ciarelli, publisher of Think Secret, said the site will close.

Think Secret, the target of an Apple lawsuit to find out who leaked information to the site, has announced that it has reached a settlement with Apple at the cost of its existence, though not its integrity. Nick Ciarelli, publisher of Think Secret, said the site will close.Ciarelli's public statements about the settlement indicate that he's pleased with the outcome.

Apple's victory, meanwhile, is being widely condemned in the blogosphere. "Apple comes off looking like some power-crazed South American dictator, the kind who can't stand it when the media reveal government secrets and so arrests the entire press corps," notes tech reporter Mathew Ingram.

"Apple very well could have come out the loser in all this but demanded the shutdown of Think Secret as a face-saving condition," said media analyst Cynthia Brumfield on IP Democracy. "This litigation, after all, was a stupid strategy on Apple's part, one bound to give the company a very public black eye."

The case may help resolve the much debated question about the distinction between bloggers and journalists: A blogger is a journalist without a legal department riding shotgun.

There are some who argue that there is no legitimate news value in publishing proprietary corporate information before the corporation chooses to make the information public.

That argument has merit only in circumstances when publication of secrets would do real harm to human life or national security (and I'm not talking about the economic harm of devaluing the free advertising Apple gets by starving news organizations of information then chumming the waters).

Insisting that companies alone get to determine what is or isn't newsworthy is an abdication one's responsibilities as a journalist. And if that's what journalists today believe in, thank God for bloggers and lawyers who'll represent them.

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