Interview with Gawker founder Nick Denton regarding checkbook journalism

Tue, Apr 20, 2010


You might not have been familiar with Gawker founder Nick Denton before this week, but his bombastic and unapologetic demeanor in the wake of Gizmodo’s expose on the iPhone 4G recently thrust him into the national spotlight – well, tech spotlight.

While many have criticized Gizmodo for paying money in exchange for what should have reasonably been interpreted as property to which they had no right to access, Denton has proudly bragged about being a practitioner of “checkbook journalism” and his willingness to do anything for a story.

Now, in an interview with the Village Voice, Denton sheds some more light on his “journalistic” philosophy and his willingness to cross any line if it means being the first to report a breaking news item of interest. Below are some of the more pertinent and interesting portions of the interview.

The iPad coverage said quite a bit about the future of access “journalism.”
Most of these reporters are extensions of the PR industry.

Anybody come to mind specifically who’s at-large in New York?
I was struck by Ihnatko.

I feel like maybe a certain major local daily might be a little beholden to Apple…Are you, Jason, Brian, Jesus at all concerned about the access to official Apple events in the future?
None of us thought about that. We had a story. We wrote it. You know how Gawker works. If you think too much about the consequences, you just become part of the system.

Later in the interview, Denton says Gizmodo’s scoop was the biggest scoop in technology journalism while stating that “any decent journalist ought to be willing to sell their mother for a story like this.”

Next, Denton opines on on Apple’s PR machine:

I used to cover Silicon Valley for the Financial Times. I’d never experienced such control freak publicists. New York corporate communications professionals are angels of transparency by comparison. Apple’s PR people have more power than any others — because they can dole out access to the hottest gadgets on the planets. I don’t blame them for herding the tech reporters; only the tech reporters for going along so uncomplainingly to the slaughter.

Well, we’ve got to give Denton for being completely confident in his stance that Gizmodo did absolutely nothing wrong, which is more than we can say for some ¬†of the other Gizmodo editors who have been trying to play both sides of the fence.


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