Tabloids do what tabloids do

tabloid by PinkMoose

Write and Wrong
[Via Doc Searls Weblog]

When reported on the next-generation iPhone that had come into its hands, I was as curious as the next geek about what they’d found. But I didn’t think the ends justified the means.

The story begins,

You are looking at Apple’s next iPhone. It was found lost in a bar in Redwood City, camouflaged to look like an iPhone 3GS. We got it. We disassembled it. It’s the real thing, and here are all the details.

“We got it,” they said. How?


Doc gives a very measured response here. My response is not quite as measured, as I am one of the people sites like Gizmodo targets. I’m a customer.

And, now that I know what kind of site it really is, I will not visit it purposefully again.

I refuse to support entities whose business model embraces the purely tabloid approach to information dispersal. ‘Sensational is more important than factual.’

Perhaps Gizmodo did not do something illegal. For me, that does not matter. It did something I believe is unethical, something that I will result in my refusal to support their business. And then, when called on this by many people who had been its readers, Gizmodo inserted itself into the story, publishing a long line of self-justifying rationalizations. Just like other tabloids.

Too late. By its actions, it revealed itself for the tabloid publication it is.

Here is a similar scenario regarding dealing with immoral and possible unethical lines. Say a photographer took pictures of an actress sunbathing nude in her backyard. She has a reasonable expectation of privacy, seeing as how the nearest house to her secluded one is hundreds of yards away. But the photographer used a long telephoto and got the fuzzy pictures.

So, he shows up at a reputable paper, saying he has these pictures. What does a reputable paper do? Their business model is news, not sensationalism. Without some compelling public interest, they would decline the offer. They surely do not pay him for the pictures. It would hurt their business model because it would repel many of their readers.

‘Paying for pictures that are purely salacious. That is what tabloids do.’

Tabloids pay for the pictures and run them. Sometimes they get sued for going to far but the moral line they come up against is one I find very distasteful. So I refuse to give them my business.

By making this a story, Gizmodo revealed itself as purely a tabloid site, reveling in sensationalism over facts. And, then Gizmodo revealed even more about their lack of moral compunction, by invading the privacy of the Apple employee, publishing his name for the internet to see.

Again, the morality for a tabloid is whatever sells, not what is right.

Fine, that is a useful business model for some. Tabloids can be quite successful.

But I refuse to read the tabloids because I do not like the moral lines they cross all the time. Engadget came up to the same line and, for whatever reasons, refused to cross it.

I don’t have time to deal with sites that are not really interested in providing information, where ‘bright, shiny, and rude’ is more important than the facts.

Now I know where Gizmodo’s moral line is. It has lost my interest, my business and I will be sure to tell people just what I think of it.