District attorney

D.A. disagrees with Steve Jobs about who's a journalist

August 11, 2011: 6:57 AM ET

Declines to bring charges against Gizmodo's Jason Chen in stolen iPhone case

From AppleInsider's transcript of an interview with Apple's (AAPL) Steve Jobs at All Things Digital's 2010 D8 conference:

Mossberg brought up the issue of Apple's missing prototype iPhone and asked Jobs about the police seizure of computers and other equipment belonging to the Gizmodo editor who broke the story, saying the police "go and don't issue a search warrant and […] they grab this journalist's assets," at which point Jobs interrupted to say, "well a guy, who can say if [Jason Chen of Gawker Media] is a journalist." The audience gasped.

Who's to say? The district attorney of San Mateo County, that's who.

From the Associated Press, 13 months later:

Prosecutors said Wednesday that they will not bring charges against a tech blogger who bought an Apple iPhone prototype after it was found at a bar in March 2010 in a case that ignited an unusual First Amendment debate.

San Mateo County Assistant District Attorney Morley Pitt said charges were not filed against Gizmodo.com's Jason Chen or other employees, citing California's shield law that protects the confidentiality of journalists' sources.

"The difficulty we faced is that Mr. Chen and Gizmodo were primarily, in their view, engaged in a journalistic endeavor to conduct an investigation into the phone and type of phone it was and they were protected by the shield law,'' said Pitt.

There's long been a disconnect in Jobs' mind between the mainstream media (which he courts assiduously) and the bloggers who cover Apple (who get sent cease & desist letters from Apple's lawyers). In the same D8 interview, Jobs said, according to the Register's transcript:

"Anything that we can do to help the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal and other news gathering organisations to find new ways of expression, so they can afford to get paid, to keep their news gathering operations intact, I'm all for.

"I don't want us to become a nation of bloggers."

Below: Video excerpts from the same D8 in which Jobs describes Gizmodo as buying stolen property and attempting extortion. Then he launches into a speech about Apple's core values. 3:46. Flash required. The full 90-minute interview is available here.

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