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Gizmodo outs Apple employee to save face?

Has Gizmodo named and shamed an Apple employee simply to add credibility to its iPhone story?

(Credit: Flickr/CBSi)

commentary The past couple of days have been an exciting whirlwind of iPhone news, with Engadget and Gizmodo battling for an exclusive on the upcoming handset.

Now, the question of the iPhone pictures legitimacy is blurred by insinuations that Gizmodo parent company Gawker may have paid as much as US$10,000 for the opportunity to photograph the as-yet unconfirmed iPhone successor. It's all a bunch of fun until someone gets hurt, as they say, and I'd argue that that time is now upon us.

The latest Gizmodo post on the issue names and shames the Apple employee who supposedly lost the iPhone in the German beer house in Redwood City. The article includes the employee's full name and photograph, plus a transcript of a phone conversation with him. The only public backlash so far seems to be a Facebook group created by someone with poor spelling, but the implications on this individual could be a lot worse if Apple feels the need to make an example of him now that his details have been made public.

This may seem like normal journalistic practice, after all criminals and those embroiled in celebrity scandals are publicly humiliated in newspaper headlines every day, but the case with this Apple employee is most certainly different. Firstly, he has done nothing wrong, he's not a criminal, he's just the poor sod whose mistake may cost him his job. More importantly, his identity is not newsworthy.

The only reason Gizmodo could have for naming this guy is to give its "scoop" credibility. Every year tech blogs stake their reputations on iPhone rumours, and if the speculation is correct, Gizmodo has added a US$10,000 premium to this gamble. This name-and-shame article, especially the telephone call transcript, adds weight to its article, places blame on someone and draws attention away from the rumours of chequebook journalism, but at the cost of an individual's reputation. This guy's name is now mud, especially within Apple, and he is the laughingstock of the internet today, all for the sake of a news story on a tech blog. We're all excited to see the phone Giz, but leave this poor guy out of it.