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Apple Rejects Pulitzer Prize-Winning Cartoonist for 'Ridiculing Public Figures'

For journalists, winning a Pulitzer Prize is the ultimate crowning achievement. For Apple, though, it's still not enough to let an app past its App Store guard dogs.

Political cartoonist Mark Fiore made history this week by becoming the first exclusively Internet-based cartoonist or journalist to take home a Pulitzer Prize. Both the achievement and Fiore's sense of satire, however, were apparently lost on Apple, which has rejected the cartoonist's iPhone app on the grounds that it "ridicules public figures." In December, the company sent Fiore an e-mail informing him of its decision to reject his 'NewsToons' app, which Apple interpreted as a clear violation of its iPhone Developer Program License Agreement. Attached to Apple's e-mail were screenshot examples of particularly offensive illustrations, including Fiore's rendering of the White House gate crashers, as well as images pertaining to torture and last fall's Balloon Boy hoax.

This isn't the first time that Apple has shut its doors to political cartoonists. Tom Richmond's Bobble Rep app, for example, was initially rejected last year, only to be later accepted amid a swell of user protests. Cartoonist Daryl Cage faced a similarly arduous struggle that lasted for months before Apple finally relented. Fiore, for his part, has decided against resubmitting his app, arguing that he's not in a position to lock horns with Steve Jobs (ahem, Pulitzer?). He remains optimistic, though, that Apple will eventually change its position, as it did for similarly "controversial" cartoon apps. He told the Nieman Journalism Lab, "They seem so much more innovative and smarter than that." And that pretty much sums up the entire Apple enigma.

For a company that leads the field in innovation and creative product design, Apple remains myopically despotic when it comes to managing the content its products can carry. A large part of the market share it enjoys can be directly attributed to the exact same uninhibited, free flow of ideas that it's now hindering among app developers. While we acknowledge that there ought to be some screening process, if Apple's current alarm system is so impermeable as to flag a Pulitzer Prize winner for simply doing his job, that should be enough to warrant change in policy. [From: Nieman Journalism Lab; via: BoingBoing]

UPDATE: True to Fiore's prediction, Apple has indeed decided to allow the cartoonist to market his app on the iStore after all. According to the Wall Street Journal, an Apple rep called Fiore Thursday to suggest that he resubmit his NewsToons app for consideration. Said Fiore, "I feel kind of guilty. I'm getting preferential treatment because I got the Pulitzer." The satirist later added that he harbors no ill will toward Apple because of its reluctance, saying "I'm a sucker for Apple, and I do like what they've done. I've always felt like they would be the type to support political cartooning."

Tags: Apple, AppStore, censorship, iphone, iphoneapp, MarkFiore, PoliticalCartoon, PoliticalCartoonist, PulitzerPrize, top