One of the two most popular blogs in the world, Gizmodo, has done something really bad during CES '08. Using a TV-B-Gone remote control, blogger Richard Blakeley turned off randomly flat screen displays and even displays of ongoing presentations. Worse, Gizmodo Editor Brian Lam even thought it fit to post it on Gizmodo. The result is probably the highest trafficked post by any website on the event (400,000+ views at this writing) and a ban for Mr. Blakeley from future CES events.
The statement from CES:
We have been informed of inappropriate behavior on the show floor by a credentialed media attendee from the Web site Gizmodo, owned by Gawker Media. Specifically, the Gizmodo staffer interfered with the exhibitor booth operations of numerous companies, including disrupting at least one press event. The Gizmodo staffer violated the terms of CES media credentials and caused harm to CES exhibitors. This Gizmodo staffer has been identified and will be barred from attending any future CES events. Additional sanctions against Gizmodo and Gawker Media are under discussion.
Gizmodo may be banned from CES as well. Some observers even opined that the Gizmodo Editor should be fired by Gawker Media, owner of Gizmodo. Well-respected tech reporter Andy Pargh wrote Brian Lam and Gizmodo a painfully accusative letter and published it on the comments section of the controversial post (reposted after the break). Whether the rest of the blogging community will lose respect from other sectors, because of the prank, only time will tell. This "Gizmodogate" serves to warn the rest of us working for Web 2.0 about the place of blogs in contemporary media. Are bloggers journalists?
Dear Brian, the Employees of Gizmodo and Readers of this Blog,
For nearly 20 years I worked every major trade show as a member of the press. For many years, the CES press circle was a very small one and the management of the EIA gave specific advantages to those in its inner circle. When I first started, I was reporting for a single TV station (using a camcorder) and for a single, medium market newspaper. Back then, it was very difficult to receive press credentials from the EIA for CES. It was very political. When my company became a pioneer for Internet coverage, we were not taken seriously and had to pave the way for other online websites attempting to cover this show. It was a difficult task, but we succeeded in opening the doors for others to follow...including Gizmodo.
I'll be the first to state that the PR flacks are a pain to deal with, but in the same breath acknowledge the megabucks that are spent by the manufacturers to cater to the press. To see your company intentionally sabotage manufacturer's presentations is nothing short of juvenile and understanding the politics involved, ramifications will surely follow to other bloggers due to your immature actions.
Many have forgotten how the CES came to fruition. First and foremost, this show, like other trade shows have a single purpose: For manufacturers to get its products into the distribution cycle. However over the years this has changed and the show floor has been overrun, not by dealers and retailers, but by wannabe press people and those not in the industry just clogging the isles. Due to this "mess," many manufacturers no longer spend the big bucks on massive displays and opt to show their new lineups in private hotel suites. This fact has made it difficult, if not impossible to cover these shows in an efficient manner.
Let's face the fact that the CES has transformed from an informative dealer-oriented trade show to nothing less than a circus that seeks publicity. The childish actions by Gizmodo staffers are the crowning achievement that will deliver repercussions to other trade shows as well. Brian, whether or not you were directly involved in the "prank" you and your parent company need to accept responsibility for your actions and pay the price. After all, whether or not you were directly involved, you allowed and boasted of this achievement on your blog. Please accept the blame, post a public apology and move forward. If you cannot accept the responsibility of your actions, don't be surprised, complain or whine when you're not treated as a welcomed member of the press at future conferences.
Bloggers, I hope you enjoyed your ride, but due to the juvenile actions of Gizmodo, you may no longer be able to sit at the adult table and will now most likely be delegated to the children's table.
Every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Trust me when I tell you that this can of worms that was opened and boasted by Gizmodo is far from being closed. Gizmodo fired a shot across the bow and if you think this is over, you need to grow up. Trust me when I tell you that not only the EIA/CES management as well as numerous manufactures are filing formal complaints as we speak. Don't be surprised when the fallout comes.
I will not hide behind a screen name.
The Gadget Guru