Gizmodo did a good thing and a bad thing yesterday. The good thing was publishing the gadget-blogging scoop of the decade--this summer's iPhone!--an honor shared by Engadget and a blogger named TEDream, both of whom scored earlier photographic ur-scoops of the new model.The bad thing was the ludicrously dramatic outing of the Apple engineer who lost the prototype. This earned Giz a well-deserved backlash, but we shouldn't let it overshadow the value of the original scoop. Checkbook journalism has its uses, and journalism of any kind is gold dust in the PR-fed world of gadget writing. BBG fans may be pleased to see that Joel Johnson, now at Gizmodo, agrees that the engineer's outing was a bad idea. He also kills another rumor doing the rounds--this being that the whole thing was a controlled leak--and repeats the point that access journalism sucks. You shouldn't trust the tech press PR corps who are happy with it any more than you trust Gizmodo.
It's impossible to argue that "access journalism" has anything but a deleterious effect on the objectivity of journalists. Journalists will often freak out if you point this out because you are implying they are ethically or psychologically compromised. Tough shit. As someone who also gets sneak previews from gadget companies and free gear to test, even if temporarily, I have to cop to it, too. We do our best not to let it influence us, but to deny there is any influence at all is disingenuous. ...Almost everyone in tech writing is compromised, but in this instance, only Gizmodo, Engadget and a single anonymous blogger have anything to show for it. It's hardly fair to complain about gadget writers rewriting press releases, then complain about how they get to real news, too. There's just not that much on the beat that isn't spooned out by PR people; if it takes a drunken employee's mishap and a paid-off thief, that's what it takes. Also, those fantasizing in public about someone prosecuting Gizmodo should put it away. It's disgusting. If you find Giz intolerable now, imagine it getting to mythologize its victimhood as a crusading poster child for press freedoms. God help us if Apple sues it or if it is prosecuted over this! Finally, you know what that SIM slot means? I think it means we're stuck with AT&T for another gen. Damn. Apple Didn't Leak the iPhone--And Why That Matters [Gizmodo]