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Apple censoring your news content is the risk of not innovating

April 16, 2010

The iPad hasn’t even lost its new-car smell yet and we’re already seeing the chilling effect it can have on independent journalism. Perhaps a few people were blinded by optimism at first, but by now reality ought to have set in: Whoever controls the platform controls the flow of content.

In Old Media terms, it’s like if some other company controlled your printing press.

Don’t get me wrong—the iPad is an amazing device that could be used to do amazing things for journalism. But when it comes down to it, none of the journalists fawning over it have final say over what goes into it.

Journalists need to take back control of their content and the flow of their news by innovating. If they don’t have the money to come up with their own devices, they should look toward optimizing their mobile sites. If they don’t have the money or savvy to do that, they should look to embed themselves into devices that already exist on the iPad—think of using the social stream as a sort of guerilla journalism.

Whatever journalists do, they can’t just sit back and wait for some corporate savior to come along with a miracle device. Experimentation, failure and correction are the only things that can “save journalism.”

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. James Balcerak permalink
    April 16, 2010 5:24 pm

    That sucks. I read somewhere that ISPs won a case that will allow them to censor any site they want at will. Hopefully that power won’t be as substantial in practice.

  2. April 17, 2010 4:12 pm

    That’s somewhat true, but the case you’re talking about differs from Apple’s ability to censor App Store submissions significantly (not entirely sure if you’re trying to tie the two together, but just to be certain…).

    Comcast and the FCC have been in a fight over net neutrality. In a nutshell, Comcast and other ISP’s want to be able to slow down access to whichever sites they want so they can create tiered Internet service subscriptions; so, for instance, they could charge you an extra $15 a month to get streaming video sites like YouTube to work. The FCC thinks the Web should be network neutral—that once you pay for Internet service, every website should be treated equally in terms of access and download speed. The ruling focuses mostly on the thought that the FCC doesn’t have the legal authority to enforce net neutrality (though to my knowledge, it doesn’t say who the hell does).

    The ruling—it’s actually just an appeal—is potentially frightening and we’re all watching it closely, but thus far, no one’s saying Comcast can regulate “the flow of the Internet” (in essence).

    The issue with the iPad and Apple’s App Store is much different because in this case, you’re looking at a scenario where people are creating products (apps) to be sold in a store (the App Store). Think of it like musicians who want to sell their CDs at Walmart: Walmart is perfectly free to say, “We don’t like the fact that you swear on your CD, so censor it or we won’t sell it.”

    With the Walmart analogy, if you don’t like their position, just go sell at another store. What Comcast is trying to do, though, is change the Internet from an open communications platform into something akin to premium cable.

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