I know today is supposed to be video blog day, but we are postponing for a day so we can discuss what’s going on with the iPhone 4G prototype, Gizmodo, and checkbook journalism.

Never mind the latest reports that say Gizmodo may have been punk’d by Apple or the way they “outed” the 27-year-old engineer who “lost” the iPhone 4G prototype, I want to talk about checkbook journalism.

Typically checkbook journalism is reserved for the first photos of Angelina Jolie’s and Brad Pitt’s twins or Lindsay Lohan falling down drunk in a bar the night she’s released from rehab. But the tabloid/sensational journalism seems to be appearing in technology and business reporting as of late.

By their own admission, Gizmodo says they paid for the iPhone 4G prototype, after it was found in a bar in California.

Did Gizmodo shell out $5,000 for its exclusive lost iPhone 4G story?

Yes, says head of Gawker Media (the publisher of Gizmodo) Nick Denton, who tweeted earlier Monday, “Yes, we’re proud practitioners of checkbook journalism. Anything for the story!” and “Does Gizmodo pay for exclusives? Too right!”

Not only is traditional PR dying, we will soon be hawkers of our client’s products and services to the highest bidder? I’m so disgusted, I don’t even know what else to say.

What do you think? Has the era come that exclusivity now come with a price tag? Or is this highly unethical and one can hope we won’t fall victim to consuming the media who practice this?

I hate to say it’s likely the former because Gizmodo had something like 10 million page views when they released the iPhone 4G prototype photos. I guess it truly is about the eyeballs.

P.S. Thanks to Time Management Ninja for the suggestion I write about this!

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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