More on Gizmodo's non-reporting of iPhone 4G

They never talked to the bar owner, for starters

The newest evidence that Gizmodo is a hobby-entertainment site instead of a news site comes from, where media editor Jeff Bercovici decided to do some, you know, reporting: he called the owner of the bar where the phone was lost. [hattip to John Gruber's DaringFireball blog].Bercovici also called the local cops, a real lawyer, and finally, the talkative Nick Denton, head of Gawker Media which owns Gizmodo. Based on those calls, Bercovici concluded: "Put simply, Gawker Media brazenly, publicly flouted the law. It subsidized a crime: the selling of stolen merchandise. Then it published a misleading, whitewashed account of the seller's actions meant to make it look as though he was not acting with criminal intent. It published this account in order to disguise its own culpability in the matter."My critique yesterday of Gizmodo's handling of iPhone4Gate was based mainly on what was missing from Gizmodo's account and the inconsistencies in it about how they acquired the phone. Bercovici's critique is based on "positive" evidence that he dug up with a quartet of phonecalls, evidence that warrants his conclusion that Gizmodo published a "misleading, whitewashed" report of the finder's, and their own, actions.Here's his evidence, and you can read the full, and excellent, story online."At heart is the question of whether the person who found the phone made 'reasonable and just efforts to find the owner and to restore the property to him,' as required by the California penal code. In its account of what happened, Gizmodo says the finder 'asked around' the bar where he found it. And after realizing it was an Apple prototype, he called several numbers at the company."What he never did, however, was notify anyone who worked at the bar, according to its owner, Volcker Staudt. That would have been the simplest way to get the phone back to the Apple employee [Gray Powell] who lost it, who 'called constantly trying to retrieve it' in the days afterward, recalls Volcker. 'The guy was pretty hectic about it.'"Bercovici also called the local cops: the finder didn't report the found phone to them, either. Nor, he reports, did Powell or Apple.He called a real lawyer to get some legal background."In this case, it was up to Gawker to establish that the seller legally possessed the property. Paul J. Wallin, a founding partner at the California law firm Wallin & Klaritch, offers an analogy. 'If you purchase a Rolex watch at a swap meet for $200, a reasonable person would be put on notice that it might be stolen goods,' he says. The buyer would thus be required to take extra measures to determine that it wasn't."Finally, Bercovici called Denton. "When I asked Denton what steps his company took to ensure that the seller had, in fact, made a good-faith effort to return the phone to Apple before shopping it around, he redirected the question. 'We weren't convinced the phone was even a genuine prototype until the weekend [ie. after Gizmodo bought and dismantled it],' he said. 'And we didn't discover the name of the Apple engineer who lost it until Monday. We called him and -- after Apple officials got back to us -- we returned the device to them.'"And this is my favorite part:"Denton insists returning it to Apple was the plan all along if the phone turned out to be authentic. But Wallin doesn't believe that argument would be of much use in court. 'How many times do people say after they're caught that their intention was to return something?' he says. 'Can someone raise that defense? Of course. That doesn't mean it's going to be believed.'Do you believe it?


Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

The 10 most powerful companies in enterprise networking 2022