State Of Gadget Media: Gawker’s ‘Lost’ iPhone Story: Denton Would Do It Again

iPhone 4

The big device news this week was Gizmodo’s post about the Apple (NSDQ: AAPL) engineer who lost a prototype for the next generation iPhone. Naturally, that was the lead topic kicking off paidContent parent ContentNext’s State of Gadget Media conference held at Edelman’s SoHo offices, as MediaMemo‘s Peter Kafka put the first question to Nick Denton, head of Gawker Media, publisher of Gizmodo. One of the controversial aspects of the news was Gawker’s use of “checkbook journalism” to get the story. As Jeff Bercovici pointed out, Gawker could face legal issues regarding the handling of possibly stolen goods. So Kafka asked Denton if there was anything he would have done differently. Denton, without missing a beat, answered no. Except for one thing.

The only thing Denton would have done differently was to wait to out the hapless engineer, Gray Powell, so soon after the initial story. “We could have waited a few days and milked the pageviews.”

Nevertheless, according to Denton, there have been a lot of pageviews and visits. On average, Gizmodo gets about 500,000 uniques a day; the iPhone story pushed it to 2 million.

Rafat Ali, publisher and editor of ContentNext, asked Gizmodo competitors how they would have handled the story. Scott Ard, editor-in-chief of CNET said that they would never pay for a story. “Our readers expect that of us and they care that we don’t pay for news,” he said, adding that he wouldn’t want CNET to incentivize criminality. MacRumor‘s Arnold Kim also said that he wouldn’t pay for news, but if he had the story about the lost iPhone, he certainly would have run it.

As a marketer, Kim Titus, public relations director for Samsung, has watched the iPhone story this week with amusement. But from a news story, he sympathizes with Apple, saying it hasn’t helped the product. “The news that has emanated from Gizmodo‘s story is all about how they got the news, nothing about the product itself,” Titus said. “It’s all journalists talking about journalists.” At that, Denton, seeming a bit weary of the topic himself, said with more than a dash of sarcasm, “Yes, that’s always interesting.”

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