Brian Lam, the former editor of the tech news site Gizmodo, writes about how he sent an apology to Steve Jobs three weeks ago for requiring Apple to send a letter to the tech site saying that the stolen iPhone it was reporting about was its property.
Lam writes, “I’d walked around justifying how things went down for weeks after that. One day, a veteran reporter friend of mine and I were talking about the situation. At some point he asked me if I realized, irrespective of right or wrong, that we’d caused Apple a lot of trouble. I paused, and thought about Apple and Steve for a little bit, and all the designers and hard-working people who built the phone. I said, ‘Yes.’ I started to justify it as the right thing for the readers, and then I stopped. And I just kept thinking about Apple and Steve and how they felt. And that’s when I knew my heart was not proud.
“I will not regret things professionally. The scoop was big. People loved it. If I could do it again, I’d do the first story about the phone again.
“But I probably would have given the phone back without asking for the letter. And I would have done the story about the engineer who lost it with more compassion and without naming him. Steve said we’d had our fun and we had the first story but we were being greedy. And he was right. We were. It was sore winning. And we were also being short sighted. Sometimes, I wish we never found that phone at all. That is basically the only way this could have been painless. But that’s life. Sometimes there’s no easy way out.
“I thought about the dilemma every day for about a year and half. It caused me a lot of grief, and I stopped writing almost entirely. It made my spirit weak. Three weeks ago, I felt like I had had enough. I wrote my apology letter to Steve.”
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