Journalism Ethics, Gizmodo and the iPhone

You may have heard that Gizmodo broke a story about the new G4 iPhone. They admit to obtaining the prototype from an individual who 'found it' in a bar in Redwood City. Now, Gizmodo is coming under fire for buying the iPhone and reporting on it. Keeping journalistism ethics in mind, read the articles, then leave a thoughtful comment about how Gizmodo should have handled this situation.

Gizmodo blogger's computers seized
Gizmodo article (check out the links within the article)

Your comment is due by 5pm TODAY, April 27.

49 comments:

Savanna said...

This story it like a little fairytale. A guy from apple just happens to leave the prototype for the newest iphone behind at a bar. The "Random Drunk Guy" gives the phone to man, and Gizmodo somehow ends up with the phone. Even if all of this is true Gizmodo should have been respectful and not gone into the phone, "dissecting it". They should not have taken money for the phone.Even if the company did all of that, they should not have wrote a post on it, the iphone isn't out yet apple would not want their new and improved technology leaked out. If this story is indeed true, then Gizmodo should have returned the phone without examining it and writing an article on it.

Samson Tong said...

I find it kind of cool that he got a hold of the new iPhone before the actual release. Gizmodo handled his situation fine. He did not "steal" the phone or have an intention of doing so, but it just appeared in his possession and so happens he is a tech blogger. Who wouldn't blog about a new toy they just found? The Apple employee is who's to blame for this because he was careless and left it around in a bar. If Apple truly did not want their new iPhone to be leaked, the company should have published a public letter saying so. This case has brought trouble among Apple, Gizmodo and his blog readers.

Melissa said...

Instead of going into the phone and "dissecting it", Gizmodo should have called Apple and returned the phone right away. Gizmodo should not have exposed and written a story about the new Apple I phone and its applications without Apples permission even if some guy found it in a bar and gave it to them.

Carla said...

Gizmodo's new coverage on the "unreleased" 4G iPhone is just wrong. Sure, Gizmodo is supposed to be supplying the public with journalism pieces on gadgets, but when it is acquired illegally, then why bother covering it? It's just so unprofessional, especially since it is Apple's private property. The blogger should have returned the "missing" item as soon as he received it. As San Mateo County Chief Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe said, "Finders keepers, losers weepers — that only applies in the second grade, not in real life." Simply put, I think the whole thing is just a hot mess.

Kimmy said...

I am not exactly sure how Gizmodo should have handled the situation with the iPhone. The officer, Wagstaffe, is correct when stating, "finders keepers, losers weepers — that only applies in the second grade, not in real life." Gizmodo should have not have bought the iPhone from someone who found it in a Redwood City bar. They should have returned the phone to the rightful owner.

Hi:)

Banpreet said...

It was wrong for Gizmodo to go ahead and go through the phone, "dissecting it". Instead of keeping the phone, Gizmodo should have called Apple and returned the phone respectfully. Apple did not want their new phone leaked and out to the open without their permission. Gizmodo did wrong and should not have wrote an article on it.

Tracy said...

I highly doubt the phone was stolen. For one, it was very well disguised in the fake 3GS case, and it is unlikely that the person who found it in Redwood would pay so much attention to just another iPhone--granted that they weren't just trying to steal an iPhone anyway. Still, it doesn't seem like it was obtained illegally. However, this whole situation could have been avoided if the finder had just returned the phone to Apple after he found it, instead of selling it. Gizmodo, however, handled their end of the situation properly. As a tech blogger, it is basically their job as journalists to cover these kinds of stories. Furthermore, Gizmodo returned the device to Apple when requested to do so. Even if Gizmodo's gear was seized under the pretense that "it was used as the means of committing a felony," the GEAR is not what helped. The felony they seem to be referring to is the misdemeanor felony of being in possession of stolen property. I highly doubt the computers and cameras were helping the Gizmodo writer keep possession of the iPhone...

Beilul Naizghi said...

Well, I do not feel that Gizmodo was completely wrong, but they definitely were walking a fine line. Breaking news, and hot-topic issues that are reported do not get the subjects approval before printing the truth. The iPhone prototype that was left at the bar was fair game because it was, at some point, unclaimed at the bar. Furthermore, the story that comes to mind when reading this is the Watergate incident with Nixon. This was a prime example of a journalists right and civic duty to report the truth, much to the dismay of those shown to be guilty by the story. Watergate and Gizmodo and the iPhone are not necessarily on par, in terms of importance to the average American, but Gizmodo was not necessarily in the wrong simply because they reported on the iPhone without knowing whose it was, but once they knew, they returned it back to the company.

ChristianArn said...

iPhone. The word itself is infamous. Add in some scandal and an insane amount of cash, and Journalists now have a juicy story to sink their teeth into. However, this craving for a good story can sometimes lead to even greater scandal than the story, such as Gizmodo.

Terilyn said...

I don't think covering the unreleased iPhone was completely wrong. Gizmodo didn't steal it, and the guy who found the phone tried numerous times to return it. Frankly, I think there's fault on both sides though. Obviously, Apple employees should not have new products if they know they will be drunk, and Apple should have addressed the guy who tried to return the phone so many times. Gizmodo could have been nice and not written about it, but really. It was sort of fair game. Sort of.

Stephanie Chan said...

Gizmodo and the next iPhone has caused a great deal of attention. Most people would probably keep the iPhone for good if they were able to obtain it. But Gizmodo gave it back in the end which is all that matters.

Gizmodo did not handle the situation in the best possible light as he dissected the item and fully examined it before returning it. Nevertheless, this is how the common population would handle this situation. Get attention. Return.

Aundrea_Giacomelli said...

The problem is, if it is such a "under cover" gadget, why was an Apple emplyoee carrying it out and about around town to a bar. The fact is, Chen did not steal it and charges should not be pressed. The Apple employee needed to be more cautious; it is partly his fault. Yes, it was wrong for Chen to accept the item for a fee, but should Apple ot look to the employee at fault?

Sabrina said...

I do not think that this is Gizmodo's fault. It is part of his job to blog about these kinds of things and for him to get a hold of an unreleased gadget is like finding buried treasure. It is the Apple employee's fault for selling the G4 to begin with. Gizmodo did not steal if he bought it for $5,000. If anything, the Apple employee should be exposed and blamed. But on the bright side for Gizmodo, this was a great way to advertise his blog and now I bet it has more views than ever before.

Chris Mendoza said...

Gizmodo, besides his poor reporting, did Apple and other critics the favor of what they were going to do eventually, analyze the 4G iPhone product. This is, however, a moral issue pitied against Gizmodo because he exposed the secretes of a company illegally and or unprofessionally. Also, his writing, attitude, and default to an interview by police only shows the arrogant person he is.

Kimberly said...

I think Gizmodo did what they had to do. Finding the new iPhone was just by chance. But it was the best opportunity to get the word out and speak the truth about what will soon be released. I mean, curiosity isn't a crime.

Wendy said...

I think that Gizmodo should not have reported the new 4G iPhone. They should know the consequences. Although they did not technically "steal" the product and did not know the product was stolen, they should not buy it from the 20-year-old Apple store sales and publically report the details of it. It was wrong for the 20-year-old to sell it, but it was also wrong for Gizmodo "dissecting" the product and revealing the details. It was obvious that most news media obtain the newest information for the public in order to stand up against other media. Really, is there such a thing as a free lunch? Although Gizmodo pay for the product, so it was not free, they should have an idea that this iPhone could have been obtained in a wrongful way.

colby said...

Honestly now, this situation didn't have to be blown up to this proportion. Even though Gizmodo had retrieved a prototype of the this supposedly new Iphone, it doesn't mean its their fault. They are a website that reports on gadgets and whatnot so why would it be wrong of them to report on a new gadget they just happen to have in their possession? They eventually returned it so theres no big deal about it. The only reason Apple is making this seem as bad as it is is simply because they want to keep their new toys in wraps but it sucks for them that one of their employees would leave it on a barstool.

Yueming Wang said...

The whole finding-it-at-a-bar story seems pretty fishy but I honestly thought the only wrong step that they took was deciding to publish their review of the new iPhone. Rather, they should have waited to release the review after the phone premiered. By publishing an advanced review, Gizmodo is asking for media attention and essentially putting itself to public scrutiny.

lexxa said...

Gizmodo is really shwing themselves off and making Apple look like the slow one in this situation. It is true that Apple looked like they made almost no effort to get the phone back, which is their fault and they really should have been more careful and paid more attention since it's THEIR newest iPhone. On the other hand, Gizmodo shouldn't have broke into the phone and let everyone see what the future would bring us from the Apple world.

Chloe said...

Although Gizmodo should not have leaked the new iPhone, he had the right to. It was irresponsible of the Apple employee to leave the phone lying around, even more so at the bar. Thus, both are at fault - Apple for being careless and Gizmodo for being unethical. In all, Gizmodo should have been responsible and returned the phone to Apple.

Wai Hin said...

The thing that Gizmodo had done is absolutely wrong! Although the thing they have done is not illegal- they dissect the phone and post it in their blog, that is not the proper way to do after they have found a lost thing. They should sent the Iphone 4G back immediately to the Apple Store but not dissect it and post it in the blog and let everyone know the secret of Iphone 4G.

Karwin said...

Gizmodo handled the situation fine. They didn't burglarize the phone or plan to steal it in any other way. The phone just happened to come across their hands and they shouldn't be in any trouble for that. This publicity is good for Gizmodo because it can probably attract publicity for another 2-3 months while Apple settles the dispute.

Giselle said...

I honestly don't think it was so wrong of Gizmodo to blog about their findings. The real blame should be placed on the Apple employee who "lost the phone at the bar". It is Gizmodo's job to blog about new gadgets, and furthermore, build their popularity. Dissecting the gadget they payed for and blogging about it, was like finding the lost city of Atlantis. It was an opportunity to make their blog more popular and it worked.

Myron said...

When I first read the story on Gizmodo last week, I didn't really believe that the iPhone they found was real, until I read through their entire article and the e-mail that Gizmodo received. After reading some of the comments, I started forming my own opinion of the situation, and I felt that it was somewhat wrong for Gizmodo to post the highly sensitive material on their blog. Ethically, it was not a smart move to do, since it theoretically harmed Apple’s tight control of their products. Logically, however, I think Gizmodo has every right to disassemble the phone and post it as news on their blog – after all, they focus on gadget news. Ideally, the person who reportedly found the phone should have tried more diligently to return it to Apple, and none of this would have gotten out of hand. This is where Gizmodo wouldn’t be criticized for purchasing the “stolen device.” But one needs to consider that Apple could possibly have generated free publicity for their product. In general, it would have been best for Gizmodo to just try to contact Apple again, and keep the news of such a device internal. The media does not treat such news with respect. Whether accidental or on purpose, all parties should share some guilt letting the situation get out of hand.

alec said...

In aspects of the market economy, a stolen product from an industry can hurt it and sometimes cause the industry to lose tremendous amounts of money. With the case of the newest generation iphone that was found in a bar, Apple corporation could lose a lot of money. A tech blogger, more importantly, revealed the new generation iphone's insides, its functions and the like. This is an act that is criminal. He revealed the insides that iphone was supposed to reveal. He basically stole Apple's identity.

Dchia23 said...

What he did was very wrong in the eyes of the workers at apple, but imagine being is Gizmodo's situation. A lover of technology finding a way to obtain the new and improved iphone before anyone has seen eyes upon it. Of course, he should've of returned the phone to apple, but being overwhelmed with the situation caused him to make a bad decision

Jordan said...

The story seems sort of weird. How could you just forget the newest version of the iphone that isn't even out yet, on the table at a bar. Even if this person did just so happen to leave the iphone of the table, Gizmodo should have known not to gone through it and gave out the features of it. I understand that you have the newest technology in your hands and there are a lot of people who would kill for it, but keep that it to yourself, don't jeopardize someone else's profit and company. Doing that is damaging to the company's reputation and now they might have to delay the release of the new iphone because they might want to change some of the features

athena said...

Sorry Apple, but this leak was just the result of a series of unfortunate events. Gizmodo had no intention of dissecting it. The phone was lost and for the sake of journalism, Gizmodo had a story they could report on. Yes, it might have ruined Apple's reputation of keeping their secrets and their traditions of releases but, Gizmodo did pay for it and gave it back when Apple requested it. They returned the phone with no expense to Apple except their reputation.

Louisa said...

I think this entire situation is really childish. The person who found the newest iPhone should have returned it to Apple in one way or another, not give it to Gizmodo in exchange for $5,000. Gizmodo should not have tried to buy it from the person who found it in the first place. It seems utterly unprofessional and it makes it look like it was done for publicity purposes. The people of Gizmodo bought it for the intention of being the "first" to comment on it and disclose what it is. After buying the iPhone off from the person who found it, Gizmodo should have returned it to Apple immediately. Now, Gizmodo has to deal with all the criticism coming at them.

Crystal said...

The guy who found the phone SHOULD have returned the phone but in our society it is unfortunately more tempting to just claim the success and take the glory. Gizmodo did the wrong thing by leaking out the new tech but in our kind of society is it really that surprising? In a society surrounded by gossip and scandals it was almost to be expected.

Courtney Mariano said...

Jason Chen of Gizmodo definitely handled the situation with the iPhone unprofessionally. I understand the temptation to look through the phone and tell readers about the new features. But the fact is Apple has not released the new version of the iPhone. The writer should have returned the it to the company. The blogger did not have the right to examine and do a story about the smartphone.

Julia Maniquiz! said...

I understand entirely Gizmodo's desire to blog about the ureleased iPhone. As a tech savy company, it would be a dream to attain information on such a highly anticipated release. They, however, handled the situation poorly. They should have remained ethical and attained permission from Apple prior to releasing any information on the 4G. Apple would have probably paid incredible amounts of money to keep Gizmodo silent, and it would have been a win-win situation. Apple, on the other had, should have handled such a uderwraps product with much more care than was demonstrated in this situation.

Indep_Elim_Y said...

I understand that being a journalist means getting the latest scoops on topics. What I disagree with Gizmodo, however, is that instead of going out and releasing to the public an item that has yet to be released, he should have kindly return the item right when he got it, and waited patiently like all the other news media to examine the new product. There must be some logical reason as to why Apple did not want any information about their new iPhone to be leaked. As journalists, we must try to be fair and not be disrespectful in any way.

Fiona said...

Although it was unethical of Gizmodo to have blogged about the unreleased 4G iPhone, he sure had the right to leak news about it since he found the item not knowing who it belonged to. Gizmodo should have returned the iPhone to the Apple company, but it was not his fault that an Apple employee left the phone lying around at a bar. Nevertheless, both Apple and Gizmodo would be at fault here since Apple should have taken better precautions of their property and Gizmodo should not have followed the childish saying of "finders keepers, losers weepers."

Patrick Li said...

This world is freaken crazy. It's nice to know about the new iphone, my dad now wants to buy one. It's also retarded because Gizmodo stole it and then dismantled it. I think Gizmodo went too far, and should have returned it after featuring it in a story. It was not right for them to take it apart. Apple worked hard to suprise everyone, and now everyone knows about it. It isn't so suprising anymore.

Joseph said...

This world is corrupt. Gizmodo should have thought about the consequences of dissecting the iPhone before doing so. They could have benefited more if they returned the iPhone instead of exploiting it. It is the Apple employee's fault that he left the phone at the bar and Gizmodo should not be punished. It is Apple's fault for leaking

Darlena said...

Personally, I think Apple could have been more cautious with their latest device. However, as a journalist I believe that what Gizmodo did was unethical. After reading the story, it gave Gizmodo almost a papparazi aura: "anything to get a story." They could have politely negotiated something with Apple and ended up with an exclusive behind the scenes article or interview. Unfortunately, because of there crude actions they have no hope of friendly interaction with Apple in the future.

Donnie said...

It was very irresponsible of Gizmodo to purchase what they knew was a Fourth generation iphone. Gizmodo had first hand knowledge that a iphone prototype was lost and apple was looking for it. Apple has every reason to be upset with Gizmodo what they did was wrong. Especially all the videos they made depicting the new phone that was unnecessary plus for all Gizmodo knew the phone could have been stolen the person who found the phone did not attempt to find the rightful owner. At the end of the day Gizmodo got what it deserved.

Stefan said...

Gizmodo bought an unreleased product (Specifically a G4 iPhone) for $5000. As far as I could tell, it didn't say which party made the offer. However, this is not ethical in the least, given that Gizmodo reported on it, rather than returning it immediately. If the purpose of buying it was because the person who originally found the phone was going to show it off to everyone rather than return it, but Gizmodo wanted to, then I would understand. However this is not the case at all. They could have always written the report, then released the story immediately after being announced, still having an edge over competitors, but not have been questioned on their ethics. However, Gizmodo was extremely immature, and said "Finder's keeper's, loser's weeper's" and dissected the phone, exposing the new iPhone. While it was his job to do it, I personally find it the wrong thing to do.

Sheralynn said...

Gizmodo came across an opportunity he couldn't pass up. He had to make a choice between what he wanted to do (and what he knew the public wanted him to do) and what was morally right to do, in respect to Apple. He should have returned it right away, but honestly, who would't have played with it a little and told a few people in the process? He should NOT have broadcasted it and published what he found on the internet. THAT is wrong.

Henry Hung said...

This story probably wouldn't be that big if it wasn't an Apple product in question. Besides that, I think that Gizmodo had legal right to publish the story on the new iPhone considering it was "found". most of the fault should go the Apple employee who left it at the bar. If someone knew he was going to the bar, then he should not bring unsold new technology. The other part of the story, when police raided the man's house was a little over the top though.

FLORAINE KYLA said...

Shame on Gizmodo and shame on Apple. Both deserve a good reprimand. First of all, Gizmodo shouldn't have taken what appeared to be an "abandoned" latest iPhone, which more appropriately labeled, would be stolen. Second of all, Gizmodo shouldn't have "dissected" the iPhone and done a public report on a device Apple wanted to keep under wraps. I understand good journalism is reporting a factual and wanted story to the public, but even better journalism abides to ethics when it comes to reporting. Apple should be less careless with its devices, and stop pointing fingers at Gizmodo, and take some blame for being so careless. SHAME SHAME SHAME !!

Haley K. said...

In all honesty, both Apple and Gizmodo are at fault. This situation is comparable to a little kind finding money on the ground. First off, the person who lost the money should have avoided the circumstances by taking any necessary safety precautions. Secondly, the little kid finding the money should have taken the ethical, or "morally just," approach and returned the money. I do understand Gizmodo's desire to report the truth about such a fascinating electronic find, however, their actions were not justified. Thus, both Gizmodo and Apple acted carelessly and should have been conscientious with their decisions.

Rachelle Lan said...

I think the way Gizmodo handled it was out of hand. Knowing that he had bought a "unannounced 4G iphone" in his hands makes him responsible. Being responsible, he should have returned it back to Apple instead of creating a big mess for himself. As a journalist who helps inform the public with technology info he did have the right to write an article but since its a Apple phone, that isn't out yet, should have thought about the consequences of making it public. Now his blog page is seized and Apple may sue.

Leah said...

A huge controversey has been created by Gizmodo and this iphone story. Gizmodo was not in the right, however, he cannot be solely blamed for this situation. The Apple employee was extremely negligent, and the fact that he left the phone is extremely suspicious. After getting the phone in his possession, Gizmodo should have done the responsible thing and returned it to Apple. It is his job to review gadgets for his viewers, however, seeing as the new iphone has not yet been released, it was wrong for him to review it.

simaran said...

I agree with what some of the other people have said. I don't think what Gizmodo did was wrong. It was his duty to inform the audience about the phone's features and he did exactly that. I think the employee to left the phone is fault. It does not make sense for him to be carrying a new devide that is supposed to be confidential in public, especally considering the fact that he was drunk. He lost the phone and therefore it is hos fault and he should be the one punished.

Jennifer D said...

This entire story is quite suspicious, with the employee from Apple simply just leaving the iPhone at a bar, and having a member from Gizmodo find it.

I agree with Beilul in certain points of her comment. Though I don't feel as if they did something wrong, by 'dissecting it,' Gizmodo was walking on thin ice. As part of his job, he is to look inside objects and find out the structure and detail within it.

I think that it is more of Apple's employee's fault because he should have been more cautious and aware of where he set the iPhone that was in disguise.

But regardless, Apple should have been more careful of the new iPhone and Gizmodo should have not gone through the phone, but rather return it.

Chris Habash said...

What is all the fuss about this new iPhone? Honestly, they kind of all look the same, except with some new or improved features. Are Apple employees even allowed to own a prototype before its release date? Even if so, it was completely irresponsible on his part for leaving it at a bar. As for Gizmodo, this is just the kind of story that gets crazy media attention, and therefore the company didn't do anything wrong; it's all in the business of journalism -- reporting juicy stories. Honestly, I've never heard about Gizmodo before, so they certainly got my attention. It's not like they refused to return it to Apple, and so, they did everything they could in the meantime before the issue could even turn into a real scandal or an illegal matter.

Stephanie Ny said...

I think Gizmodo's intentions were not harmful, but the results of the event were unreasonable. It's understandable that a company would like to leak out information on a hot new gadget; they attract more readers and are given more attention to. Crossing the line is getting the iPhone KNOWING that it was stolen or lost. If Gizmodo didn't know that, then their actions are justifiable. If they did, then I think they deserve to be put on trial. I also agree with Darbyshire's argument that the search was illegal and a violation of the California Penal Code 1524. The police should not have been able to legally search Chen's house if "search warrant cannot be issued for reporters who refuse to turn over the source of information that they have made public."

- SNy

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