Gizmodo on integrity…

Brian Lam of Gizmodo does a great turnaround and questions his critics and their integrity.

Oh, excuse me, I’ve now gotta turn off all of the Apple monitors at MacWorld to prove I’m “independent” and “not part of Apple’s PR machine.”

Funny, unlike Lam, I did not get an invite to Steve Jobs’ keynote tomorrow. I’m going to be waiting out in the cold, along with my son to try to get in. (I’ll be using my Nokia N95, but don’t tell Brian cause he’ll think that’s part of Nokia’s PR machine. I guess I gotta pee on my Nokia to make sure I’m seen as “properly independent.”)

Funny, back in journalism school I was taught that journalists were supposed to report the news, not make it.

But now I guess we’re in a new world of the blogosphere. I call it “the stuntosphere.”

I think I’ll run naked through MacWorld tomorrow. I’m sure that’ll get some traffic. Make Nick Denton proud. Prove to Gizmodo that I’m “independent” and that I “won’t play Steve Jobs’ game.”

Since when did hurting other people’s ability to do their jobs become “ethical journalism?” And to use Steve Wozniak’s pranks (which were never aimed at keeping people from doing their jobs — he wouldn’t even let me aim a laser pointer at a screen at Shoreline to make sure I didn’t hurt other people’s experiences) is just despicable. Brian: you really need to spend some time understanding how Woz did his pranks and the ethics he used behind them. He, also, didn’t pretend to be a journalist, or even a blogger, while doing those pranks.

Can I have off this “new ethical journalism” bus now? I gotta go throw up.

189 thoughts on “Gizmodo on integrity…

  1. Gizmodo is Apple PR, no question about it. Whole blog-news getting stupid. We need to see how far this will go.

  2. Gizmodo is Apple PR, no question about it. Whole blog-news getting stupid. We need to see how far this will go.

  3. Is a guy with a camera who lets startup founders and geeks talk comfortably about their “cool” products a journalist? Seriously?

    You can’t slam content competitors in a space where “journalism” is an increasingly murky word with a definition that changes to suit a bloggers’ / investors’ needs.

    There is no Code of Ethics in blogging. There’s lots of opinion.

    There is an official Code of Ethics in professional journalism, along with a professional organization charged with the charter of keeping the profession as clean as possible, in addition to the efforts of publishers, editors, reporters, ombudsmen and readers.

    When someone is discovered crossing the journalistic Code of Ethics line, they are banished.

  4. Is a guy with a camera who lets startup founders and geeks talk comfortably about their “cool” products a journalist? Seriously?

    You can’t slam content competitors in a space where “journalism” is an increasingly murky word with a definition that changes to suit a bloggers’ / investors’ needs.

    There is no Code of Ethics in blogging. There’s lots of opinion.

    There is an official Code of Ethics in professional journalism, along with a professional organization charged with the charter of keeping the profession as clean as possible, in addition to the efforts of publishers, editors, reporters, ombudsmen and readers.

    When someone is discovered crossing the journalistic Code of Ethics line, they are banished.

  5. Screwing with Facebook = Very Funny

    Screwing with CES= Hysterical!

    Everybody lighten up, barely anyone knows about any of these things. I do, and they made my day(s), respectively.

    Chill.

  6. Screwing with Facebook = Very Funny

    Screwing with CES= Hysterical!

    Everybody lighten up, barely anyone knows about any of these things. I do, and they made my day(s), respectively.

    Chill.

  7. One relevant tidbit I heard on TWIT this week. Gizmodo journalists are paid by the traffic the generate. So this stunt has put money in the pocket of the guy who did it.

    And THAT is why you don’t pay bloggers for traffic. You get high-traffic but image and reputation damaging crap for posts.

  8. One relevant tidbit I heard on TWIT this week. Gizmodo journalists are paid by the traffic the generate. So this stunt has put money in the pocket of the guy who did it.

    And THAT is why you don’t pay bloggers for traffic. You get high-traffic but image and reputation damaging crap for posts.

  9. OK, as if anybody cares, here’s my take.

    What Gizmodo did was funny — in a juvenile way. It was also wrong. They were given press credentials, and so were expected to behave like journalists. Not doing so demonstrates bad ethics (and is also biting the hand that feeds you). Bad Gizmodo.

    Lam’s “defense” shows that he’s in serious denial. If he’d said they were just trying to be funny and get some traffic, I’d at least commend his honesty. Saying he’s trying to stick it to the man is as hypocritical as their giving TV-B-Gone a scathing “review” and then using one themselves.

    I especially liked his line where he said, “you earn your respect by fact finding, reporting, having untouchable integrity, provocative coverage and gaining readers through your reputation for those things.” How was that prank any of those? As Gideon said in post #1, trying to claim the high ground was probably the worst way to have handled this. Bad Lam.

    Scoble, your defense of your Facebook prank isn’t very convincing. You say that it’s a poor analogy to compare what you did to what Gizmodo did, but then you in essence compare what you did to copying a page of a phone book and what Gizmodo did to turning off power to a hospital (post #65). Seriously?

    Let’s see. Gizmodo prevented a corporate flack from making a presentation; turning off power to a hospital could kill people. Yeah, that’s a good analogy. (Can you hear my eyes rolling?) Bad Scoble.

    Brian (post #7) asked how this was different from shutting off Gizmodo’s servers. Seriously? Gizmodo is pretty much out of business as long as their servers are down. Does anybody believe any company at CES couldn’t work around a monitor being off? Bad Brian.

    Consider it another way. While Gizmodo did disrupt a presentation, how serious was that disruption? Suppose the TV had failed instead of being turned off. Do you really think a company would have packed up and gone home? I think the speaker would find a way to muddle through. (Hint: They’re called “speakers” for a reason.) And, in fact, most did work around the problems as the video showed.

    Again, I’m not condoning what Gizmodo did. They violated their journalistic obligation, but it wasn’t as bad as others seem to portray. It’s probably worse for their reputation as journalists (if anybody seriously considered them journalists) than it was for those companies.

    As for ethics, both you, Scoble (in the Facebook prank), and Gizmodo acted unethically, although perhaps on a different scale. However, you gave your word (which is what agreeing to Terms of Service is) and then broke it. I don’t read your blog very often (probably under five times), but you seem to talk about your son a lot. Would you be OK with *him* breaking his word like that? Bad Scoble.

    Finally, joflow, I’m not sure that Scoble is saying the prank itself was horrible (at least, not initially). He was saying their *defense* of the prank was ridiculous. (Of course, his defense of his Facebook exploit is equally ridiculous.)

  10. OK, as if anybody cares, here’s my take.

    What Gizmodo did was funny — in a juvenile way. It was also wrong. They were given press credentials, and so were expected to behave like journalists. Not doing so demonstrates bad ethics (and is also biting the hand that feeds you). Bad Gizmodo.

    Lam’s “defense” shows that he’s in serious denial. If he’d said they were just trying to be funny and get some traffic, I’d at least commend his honesty. Saying he’s trying to stick it to the man is as hypocritical as their giving TV-B-Gone a scathing “review” and then using one themselves.

    I especially liked his line where he said, “you earn your respect by fact finding, reporting, having untouchable integrity, provocative coverage and gaining readers through your reputation for those things.” How was that prank any of those? As Gideon said in post #1, trying to claim the high ground was probably the worst way to have handled this. Bad Lam.

    Scoble, your defense of your Facebook prank isn’t very convincing. You say that it’s a poor analogy to compare what you did to what Gizmodo did, but then you in essence compare what you did to copying a page of a phone book and what Gizmodo did to turning off power to a hospital (post #65). Seriously?

    Let’s see. Gizmodo prevented a corporate flack from making a presentation; turning off power to a hospital could kill people. Yeah, that’s a good analogy. (Can you hear my eyes rolling?) Bad Scoble.

    Brian (post #7) asked how this was different from shutting off Gizmodo’s servers. Seriously? Gizmodo is pretty much out of business as long as their servers are down. Does anybody believe any company at CES couldn’t work around a monitor being off? Bad Brian.

    Consider it another way. While Gizmodo did disrupt a presentation, how serious was that disruption? Suppose the TV had failed instead of being turned off. Do you really think a company would have packed up and gone home? I think the speaker would find a way to muddle through. (Hint: They’re called “speakers” for a reason.) And, in fact, most did work around the problems as the video showed.

    Again, I’m not condoning what Gizmodo did. They violated their journalistic obligation, but it wasn’t as bad as others seem to portray. It’s probably worse for their reputation as journalists (if anybody seriously considered them journalists) than it was for those companies.

    As for ethics, both you, Scoble (in the Facebook prank), and Gizmodo acted unethically, although perhaps on a different scale. However, you gave your word (which is what agreeing to Terms of Service is) and then broke it. I don’t read your blog very often (probably under five times), but you seem to talk about your son a lot. Would you be OK with *him* breaking his word like that? Bad Scoble.

    Finally, joflow, I’m not sure that Scoble is saying the prank itself was horrible (at least, not initially). He was saying their *defense* of the prank was ridiculous. (Of course, his defense of his Facebook exploit is equally ridiculous.)

  11. Oh for crying out loud.

    Let’s be honest and stop trying to paint Gizmodo’s prank as something more sinister than it is. Yes, they disrupted some presentations. They did it because it’s funny, because they figured tech people would have a better sense of humor than most, and because CES is in and of itself a distraction to people in the industry, bloggers in particular. Comparing Giz messing around with some promotional displays at an industry event to your messing around with an actual working and functioning real-life system affecting real-life users is both silly and dishonest. You can argue that Lam’s defense is ridiculous (it is), but don’t act like the high road is where you’re able to stand on this one, or that what they did was some heinous and deplorable act. Mid-20′s industry nerds pulled a prank on other industry nerds, the world is not collapsing, and you’ve done much worse. Inflating their transgressions as to somehow eclipse your own disregard of social niceties as a back-stepping defense is asinine. Technically, they didn’t break any rules or regulations, while you blatantly violated a TOS, in full knowledge of what you were doing. What they did is worse? Really?

  12. Oh for crying out loud.

    Let’s be honest and stop trying to paint Gizmodo’s prank as something more sinister than it is. Yes, they disrupted some presentations. They did it because it’s funny, because they figured tech people would have a better sense of humor than most, and because CES is in and of itself a distraction to people in the industry, bloggers in particular. Comparing Giz messing around with some promotional displays at an industry event to your messing around with an actual working and functioning real-life system affecting real-life users is both silly and dishonest. You can argue that Lam’s defense is ridiculous (it is), but don’t act like the high road is where you’re able to stand on this one, or that what they did was some heinous and deplorable act. Mid-20′s industry nerds pulled a prank on other industry nerds, the world is not collapsing, and you’ve done much worse. Inflating their transgressions as to somehow eclipse your own disregard of social niceties as a back-stepping defense is asinine. Technically, they didn’t break any rules or regulations, while you blatantly violated a TOS, in full knowledge of what you were doing. What they did is worse? Really?

  13. By the way — while I disagree with you about the seriousness of the prank, Robert, I agree about Gizmodo’s theories of journalistic ethics. Every commentator is influenced by his/her subjects, because they control access. Whether money changes hands is often secondary.

    I can think of plenty of examples where writers of all kinds ARE unduly corrupted. But that’s the point where I say “Judge us on our actual work.”

    CAM

  14. By the way — while I disagree with you about the seriousness of the prank, Robert, I agree about Gizmodo’s theories of journalistic ethics. Every commentator is influenced by his/her subjects, because they control access. Whether money changes hands is often secondary.

    I can think of plenty of examples where writers of all kinds ARE unduly corrupted. But that’s the point where I say “Judge us on our actual work.”

    CAM

  15. Anton: right. I have done stuff to keep people from doing their work. Got it. Here’s something: I expect smart readers here. Go back to Digg if you think I’ve done something similar.

  16. Anton: right. I have done stuff to keep people from doing their work. Got it. Here’s something: I expect smart readers here. Go back to Digg if you think I’ve done something similar.

  17. @81: I know what you mean Jerry. And I agree with you theoretically. Unfortunately, those overseeing both old and new media (there are editors in new media as well) are more interested in ratings today than they are about solid journalistic pursuits. I recommend that you rent “Out Foxed”. It will give some insight into what media publishers will stoop to in order to create their stories and gain audience share. Perhaps it was always this way and has only now become transparent to us – but I think that the old adage, “Don’t believe what you read” has been around so long for a reason.

    ********BREAKING NEWS**********

    Media (and perhaps American media most of all) is biased and competitive. Again, sex sells and all…

  18. @81: I know what you mean Jerry. And I agree with you theoretically. Unfortunately, those overseeing both old and new media (there are editors in new media as well) are more interested in ratings today than they are about solid journalistic pursuits. I recommend that you rent “Out Foxed”. It will give some insight into what media publishers will stoop to in order to create their stories and gain audience share. Perhaps it was always this way and has only now become transparent to us – but I think that the old adage, “Don’t believe what you read” has been around so long for a reason.

    ********BREAKING NEWS**********

    Media (and perhaps American media most of all) is biased and competitive. Again, sex sells and all…

  19. It’s amazing that a Woz = Gizmodo comparison is even attempted here. Woz invented or developed gadgets and he pulled TV pranks on dopey fratboys in a dorm. Gizmodo bought a decade old toy and interrupted the business of companies who spent millions to display their goods at a tradeshow.

    Gizmodo trying to paint themselves to be on Woz level is like calling Ashton Kutcher a genius for getting a celeb to cry by telling them their mother was murdered in a home invasion.

    Hopefully people stop making excuses for Gizmodo and just start ignoring them because I don’t want the future of tradeshows to be about the crap that happens in the sidelines.

  20. It’s amazing that a Woz = Gizmodo comparison is even attempted here. Woz invented or developed gadgets and he pulled TV pranks on dopey fratboys in a dorm. Gizmodo bought a decade old toy and interrupted the business of companies who spent millions to display their goods at a tradeshow.

    Gizmodo trying to paint themselves to be on Woz level is like calling Ashton Kutcher a genius for getting a celeb to cry by telling them their mother was murdered in a home invasion.

    Hopefully people stop making excuses for Gizmodo and just start ignoring them because I don’t want the future of tradeshows to be about the crap that happens in the sidelines.

  21. Heh, all so amusing, well I guess bloggers go back to their professional status as pond scum, at least perception-wise. One gets on CNBC and blubbers, causing the money men to flee, and the meme spreads, the sound of a thousand press releases crying. Another does a lame gag for raw traffic, which is the basic ‘modus operandi’ for blogs anyways. And then the others trip over themselves in a fit of righteous self-indignation, crowding out all the real news.

    If a prank, trite and well-overdone, anyone could have done this, no setup, no creativity — pranks have to be fresh, not a cliche.

    But the vendors, not like this is a great big unknown. Anyone that didn’t do good prep is borderline incompetent, or maybe it was all the Stalinist Union rules, having to hire some expensive Union to shut-off or tape IR ports up, at $200 per tape application.

  22. Heh, all so amusing, well I guess bloggers go back to their professional status as pond scum, at least perception-wise. One gets on CNBC and blubbers, causing the money men to flee, and the meme spreads, the sound of a thousand press releases crying. Another does a lame gag for raw traffic, which is the basic ‘modus operandi’ for blogs anyways. And then the others trip over themselves in a fit of righteous self-indignation, crowding out all the real news.

    If a prank, trite and well-overdone, anyone could have done this, no setup, no creativity — pranks have to be fresh, not a cliche.

    But the vendors, not like this is a great big unknown. Anyone that didn’t do good prep is borderline incompetent, or maybe it was all the Stalinist Union rules, having to hire some expensive Union to shut-off or tape IR ports up, at $200 per tape application.

  23. I unsubscribed from Gizmodo RSS when I read Brian’s response. Stopped reading them. Same general response I’ve had when I run into creeps posting in online discussion forums.

    I’ve learned ages ago that railing against online oddballs and pointing out their creepy ways only draws attention, defense and longevity to their craze.

  24. I unsubscribed from Gizmodo RSS when I read Brian’s response. Stopped reading them. Same general response I’ve had when I run into creeps posting in online discussion forums.

    I’ve learned ages ago that railing against online oddballs and pointing out their creepy ways only draws attention, defense and longevity to their craze.

  25. I don’t understand you guys. What are you getting all uptight about in the first place. None of what happened is serious by any stretch of the word.

    So some bloggers run around a tech conference shutting down some monitors. It hurts some companies’ business in a very minor way, but so what? You may find it funny or not, but nobody loses millions, nobody gets killed, so why bother to even worry about it?

    Same thing with what Scoble did with Facebook. It doesn’t even matter whether the whole thing was a stunt, or whether he broke the terms. The point is none of these things come even close to being “ethically wrong”.

    Just put your arguments on hold until something important happens, and enjoy your life until then. You guys are like children, seriously….

  26. I don’t understand you guys. What are you getting all uptight about in the first place. None of what happened is serious by any stretch of the word.

    So some bloggers run around a tech conference shutting down some monitors. It hurts some companies’ business in a very minor way, but so what? You may find it funny or not, but nobody loses millions, nobody gets killed, so why bother to even worry about it?

    Same thing with what Scoble did with Facebook. It doesn’t even matter whether the whole thing was a stunt, or whether he broke the terms. The point is none of these things come even close to being “ethically wrong”.

    Just put your arguments on hold until something important happens, and enjoy your life until then. You guys are like children, seriously….

  27. I only read this blog when it pops up on Techmeme – and it’s always when you’re commenting on some ‘big’ story of the day – does get you some traffic doesn’t it? I suppose as a commercial blogger, there’s just no profit in rising above it all, and maintaining a dignified silence.

    So, you got to include yourself in the stupidest firestorm so far in the silly little world of tech blogging. Where are the aggrieved victimes? I’ll bet the show organisers only acted after all the ‘outraged’ emails they got from bloggers/journalists/whatever. In the world of newspaper journalism, there are leader writers and humourous columnists. They’re all working for a newspaper. I think you would like to be seen as the former, and it’s pretty clear they see themselves as the latter, BUT WE DON’T CARE ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE. We read the whole paper. It’s called balance. Light and dark. Serious and funny. See how that works?

    So by all means comment on it, if you just want to be another ring in the circus. If I read your blog when you had something interesting to say, rather than when you engage in the kind of nonsense that makes you look like a pompous ass, I might come back and read you again. Hypocrite, hypocrite, hypocrite.

  28. I only read this blog when it pops up on Techmeme – and it’s always when you’re commenting on some ‘big’ story of the day – does get you some traffic doesn’t it? I suppose as a commercial blogger, there’s just no profit in rising above it all, and maintaining a dignified silence.

    So, you got to include yourself in the stupidest firestorm so far in the silly little world of tech blogging. Where are the aggrieved victimes? I’ll bet the show organisers only acted after all the ‘outraged’ emails they got from bloggers/journalists/whatever. In the world of newspaper journalism, there are leader writers and humourous columnists. They’re all working for a newspaper. I think you would like to be seen as the former, and it’s pretty clear they see themselves as the latter, BUT WE DON’T CARE ABOUT THE DIFFERENCE. We read the whole paper. It’s called balance. Light and dark. Serious and funny. See how that works?

    So by all means comment on it, if you just want to be another ring in the circus. If I read your blog when you had something interesting to say, rather than when you engage in the kind of nonsense that makes you look like a pompous ass, I might come back and read you again. Hypocrite, hypocrite, hypocrite.

  29. @30. Sure there are bad journalist, questionable jouralists,etc. That’s not the point I was making. Bad journalist or not, they have editors and are generally accountable to their editors for the accuracy and actions of their reporting (See:Dan Rather,Bush National Guard Story). Rarely is a blogger held accountable to anyone. So they can pretty much make stuff up, do what they want, and apologize later when called on it.

    @39. Robert, but at the same time you maintain that bloggers should be considered journalists. I seem to recall you supporting the cause of some nincompoop Josh Wolf that was jailed and trying to hide behind shield laws. http://scobleizer.com/2006/08/01/videoblogger-jailed/#comments

    reading through the comments it looked like you took the position that anyone with a blog (even a 12 year old writing about how Britney is getting a bad rap) is a journalist by the mere fact they have a blog. So, when is a blogger “just a blogger” and when is he a “journalist”. Considering that anyone can consider pretty much anything “news” (At least that’s the impression I get from watch local news shows)

  30. @30. Sure there are bad journalist, questionable jouralists,etc. That’s not the point I was making. Bad journalist or not, they have editors and are generally accountable to their editors for the accuracy and actions of their reporting (See:Dan Rather,Bush National Guard Story). Rarely is a blogger held accountable to anyone. So they can pretty much make stuff up, do what they want, and apologize later when called on it.

    @39. Robert, but at the same time you maintain that bloggers should be considered journalists. I seem to recall you supporting the cause of some nincompoop Josh Wolf that was jailed and trying to hide behind shield laws. http://scobleizer.com/2006/08/01/videoblogger-jailed/#comments

    reading through the comments it looked like you took the position that anyone with a blog (even a 12 year old writing about how Britney is getting a bad rap) is a journalist by the mere fact they have a blog. So, when is a blogger “just a blogger” and when is he a “journalist”. Considering that anyone can consider pretty much anything “news” (At least that’s the impression I get from watch local news shows)

  31. TWiT 127 touched on the Gizmodo stunt. Apparently, the Gizboys (and I’m sure many others) are paid basic salary + traffic-related bonus, therefore stunt = publicity = hits = money.

    Expect more of this, sadly.

  32. TWiT 127 touched on the Gizmodo stunt. Apparently, the Gizboys (and I’m sure many others) are paid basic salary + traffic-related bonus, therefore stunt = publicity = hits = money.

    Expect more of this, sadly.

  33. I don’t think sabotaging a trade show floor is exactly like sabotaging a hospital. After all, a lot of the booths are sabotaging each other, for example by being so noisy as to interfere with business at neighboring booths.

    Gizmodo’s offense, as I see it, begins and ends with the misuse of journalistic credentials. Somebody did them a favor to let them in, which puts them in a very different position from those who bought floor space.

    I also think they’re over the top with the contempt they’re expressing for the whole exercise. If you go skeptically to a press conference, then savage the in-your-opinion-dishonest speakers, that’s one thing. But if they disapproved of the whole show in advance, they shouldn’t have attended for the sole purpose of disrupting it.

    Now, I AM the guy who got removed from the Plaza Hotel for attending a press conference he wasn’t invited to, which became a big story in Electronic News and MIS Week back in the day. And Dave Brousell of Electronics News was the guy who gave me his spare invite. But that was just because I shouldn’t have been excluded in the first place … oh, geez. That was pretty much half my lifetime ago. I feel old.

    CAM

  34. I don’t think sabotaging a trade show floor is exactly like sabotaging a hospital. After all, a lot of the booths are sabotaging each other, for example by being so noisy as to interfere with business at neighboring booths.

    Gizmodo’s offense, as I see it, begins and ends with the misuse of journalistic credentials. Somebody did them a favor to let them in, which puts them in a very different position from those who bought floor space.

    I also think they’re over the top with the contempt they’re expressing for the whole exercise. If you go skeptically to a press conference, then savage the in-your-opinion-dishonest speakers, that’s one thing. But if they disapproved of the whole show in advance, they shouldn’t have attended for the sole purpose of disrupting it.

    Now, I AM the guy who got removed from the Plaza Hotel for attending a press conference he wasn’t invited to, which became a big story in Electronic News and MIS Week back in the day. And Dave Brousell of Electronics News was the guy who gave me his spare invite. But that was just because I shouldn’t have been excluded in the first place … oh, geez. That was pretty much half my lifetime ago. I feel old.

    CAM

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