April 17, 2010 holman

couplea douchebags

I apologize. Starting out a blog post with the names and photos of some guys as a result of how those guys did their jobs is really dirtbag journalism. Slimy, awful, dirtbag journalism. But don’t worry, it’s on the internet. I guess. Besides, it wasn’t just Jason Chen and Jesus Diaz who were douchebags; there’s probably a few other douchebags involved at Gizmodo, too.

Here’s the thing. As a media outlet, I get it: getting the scoop is fun. It’s also profitable. But there’s a certain line that, as journalists, you should be loathe to cross. I get it: reporting on new hardware is exciting. Getting the exclusive is great. Getting the actual device in your possession is astounding. I’ll grant you all of that. I’ll even grant that you can buy that information off the street. I think that last particular point is wildly dubious — and I suspect Apple Legal might take note of that — but I’ll give it to you. What’s not news is posting the name, personal details, and photo of some guy who experienced a careless mistake and passing it off as news.

Does reporting the story sans-identifiable information have any bearing on the story itself? At all? As a reader I would have been content with “a software developer working at Apple”. I would have been happy if Gizmodo posted that they knew the identity but were refraining from releasing it. All of that makes sense. They strengthen evidence of the story’s authenticity by posting all of that information. But posting the details of some low-level employee is tabloid journalism. I suspect even tabloids have standards that would prevent them from reporting on non-newsworthy private citizens.

If it were Schiller or Ive or any other public figure at Apple, sure, it may have been appropriate to release the name. I just feel bad for this random Apple guy. He’s probably going to lose his job over what likely amounts to a careless mistake. We don’t know if he was drunk or anything close to it; we’ve all made mistakes even while sober. It will follow him past his term of employment at Apple: the front page of Google for his name already is splashed with articles, posts, and tweets about his actions.

Gizmodo has never really cared about ethical responsibility in the past, so it’s par the course, apparently. The New York Times, at least, is reporting on the story without the drivel… old media still leads the way in some facets of journalism.

It’s a cool story that would have stood on its own fine, but then Gizmodo had to be dicks. I’m pretty curious as to what Apple Legal’s next move will be.