UPDATE: According to the WSJ, Apple has contacted Fiore:
Apple called the cartoonist Thursday and suggested that he resubmit the app, Mr. Fiore said in an interview. “I feel kind of guilty,” he said. “I’m getting preferential treatment because I got the Pulitzer.”
Preferential perhaps but not uncommon. Several controversial app rejections have been reconsidered when publicity brought them to the attention of higher-ups at Apple. Unfortunately, the "review team rejects, executive team reconsiders" is not a scalable or likely desirable strategty for Apple.
ORIGINAL: Mark Fiore, the first online journalist to win a Pulitzer Prize (for editorial cartooning), has had his iPhone app, NewsToons rejected from the App Store because it violates Apple's policy against "ridiculing public figures".
This follows similar rejections of Bobble Rep, which contained political caricatures by Tom Richmond, and MSNBC.com Cartoons by Daryl Cage. Both of those apps eventually made it into the App Store, and it's possible NewsToons will as well (though Fiore isn't going to bother fighting on its behalf), but the situation highlights another problem with the highly regulated store model.
There will always be cases where legitimate artistic and/or social expression gets caught up in policies designed to exclude extreme, abusive, or otherwise inappropriate content for the general audience. Just as all nudity isn't porn (or isn't intended to titillate), political satire isn't the same as political attack or public ridicule for partisan purposes.
And just like rejection can have a chilling effect on developers, it can have a chilling effect on the press that holds their editorial freedom near-sacred.
We've seen signs of Apple considering an Explicit category for the "sexy apps" removed from the App Store earlier in the year. A satire category sounds less wieldy, however and points out once again the types of problems Apple will have with both content creators and simple scale as the App Store continues to race towards 200,000 apps.
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