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robmandu's avatar

Is Jason Chen a journalist?

Asked by robmandu (21262points) April 26th, 2010

So Jason Chen allegedly took receipt of an allegedly stolen fourth-generation iPhone prototype. Read a great blow-by-blow by Andy Ihnatko here.

Gizmodo, a technology blog, part of Gawker Media, and Chen’s employer reported today that the San Mateo police got a search warranty, entered Chen’s home, and seized his property relevant to the case.

The interesting thing to me is that Gawker’s attorney is calling for the return of Chen’s property citing that he’s a journalist and is not subject to search & seizure warrants per section 1524[g] of the CA Penal Code (it requires a subpoena instead).

Now, it’s interesting to me that Nick Denton, the founder, proprietor, and managing editor at Gawker was quoted just last year as saying, “We may inadvertently do good. We may inadvertently commit journalism. That is not the institutional intention.”

And so I ask Fluther, what makes a journalist? Is it intent? Is it the media distribution? Is it if you’re a professional? Can someone be a journalist and work pro-bono? Can someone be a journalist in one outlet, and not another? Does the individual get to decide? Or the government/courts? Maybe your boss vouches for you?

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3 Answers

Parrappa's avatar

I love Gizmodo, but I’m incredibly sick of hearing about this iPhone 4G and it’s association with the tech blog that “discovered” it.

Sorry, had to throw that in there. Its been all over the web for weeks now.

EmpressPixie's avatar

@Parrappa Yes, but the fact that the police executed what may have been an invalid warrant to search and seize this young person’s property is new and worrying.

As to the question, there isn’t really a question here—actions speak louder than words and the Gizmodo writers routinely go to non-public tradeshows like CES as members of the press. They are journalists.

arpinum's avatar

What makes a journalist a journalist is whether she is gathering news for dissemination to the public, not the method or medium she uses to publish. Courts decide this. The standard test is whether the person intended to spread information to the public the information they gather, and whether this was the intent when the person first came across the information. Chen, Gizmodo, and Gawker Media appear to be doing this as their business strategy when they paid for the iPhone.

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