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Pulitzer winner's editorial-cartoon app approved

Though Mark Fiore's app was rejected from the App Store for being overly political in December, once Steve Jobs called its rejection a mistake, it took less than a week to get it approved.

Fiore cartoon iPad
Mark Fiore's app was approved quickly once it came to Steve Jobs' attention. Screenshot by Erica Ogg/CNET

Five days after Steve Jobs reportedly called the rejection of Mark Fiore's application by the App Store a "mistake," the application is now available to purchase for the iPhone and iPad.

Fiore, if you'll recall, is the editorial cartoonist who last week won the Pulitzer Prize for his work. It was brought to light by the Nieman Journalism Lab on Thursday that "NewsToons," a collection of Fiore's cartoons, was rejected by Apple's App Store reviewers in December because it "ridiculed public figures."

This inspired a fair amount of alarm from journalists and other political satirists that Apple might start policing the editorial content of newspapers' apps that are increasingly beginning to appear on the iPad.

Jobs replied to a customer who e-mailed him out of concern over the implications of the rejection of Fiore's app on Friday, writing, "This was a mistake that's being fixed." Fast forward to Tuesday and the app is now available for sale through the App Store.

In an e-mail interview with CNET Tuesday, Fiore sounded pleased that his app was finally on the store, but he admitted the process was handled "oddly" by Apple.

"When they contacted me to encourage me to resubmit, there was never any mention of why they were contacting me at that time, and no mention of that day's press about their 'ridicules public figures' policy," Fiore said. "It seemed a little bit like an out-of-the-blue Deep Throat phone call--not 'meet me in the parking garage,' but 'you might want to consider resubmitting your app.'"

The end result was good news for Fiore, but potentially depressing for his peers. Will they, too, have to risk getting screened out by individual reviewers enforcing App Store rules that are sometimes unclear?

Fiore is well aware he got special treatment because of his Pulitzer win. "I only hope other people with good political apps, who haven't won a prize and received press attention, can get approved by Apple," he said.

Updated at 1:50 p.m. with comments from interview with Fiore.