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Lessons From the Gizmodo-CES Flap

Here's a juicy storyline for you:

-- A consumer electronics company sends a product called TV-B-Gone to the reviewers at Gizmodo. TV-B-Gone turns off TVs remotely using the infrared port, apparently without having to be synced to the TV.

-- Richard Blakely, a reporter for Gizmodo, brings the device to the Consumer Electronics Show and turns off some displays including one being used for a presentation.

-- Gizmodo posts video of their prank and brags about it.
-- CES is not amused. The reporter from Gizmodo, one of the leading blogs about consumer electronics products, is now "banned" from future CES shows.

-- According to Google Reader, Gizmodo has over 28,000 subscribers to its RSS feed. It is the second most popular blog in the blogosphere, according to Technorati.

-- Journo-bloggers at the LA Times take Gizmodo to task for not acting more like trained and seasoned journalistic professionals.

Why do I find this story interesting? Because there are so many lessons here, such as:

  1. First and foremost, what Gizmodo did was childish. But it was clearly a prank designed to draw attention. Mission accomplished.
  2. CES apparently doesn't "do" the Internet. Otherwise, they wouldn't even think of banning one of their biggest fans and boosters. Gizmodo and its rivals spend all day, every day, salivating over consumer electronics. Does CES have anyone else who gives their industry that much free love?
  3. CES had to do something to demonstrate its outrage, I suppose, to discourage future disobedience. But kicking out the offender strikes me as lame and off-key.
  4. The LA Times' reaction is most surprising. What Gizmodo did was harmless. It didn't hurt anyone, and it didn't have an economic impact. It was just a prank. Get over yourselves.
  5. Most important lesson: bloggers aren't traditionally trained journalists. They play by different rules, or no rules at all. Expecting them to play by old school rules is, generally, futile.
Memo to CES: Get your head around dealing with bloggers like Gizmodo -- they're not your father's media. But they are most definitely the same consumers whipping out their Visa cards to buy all the cool gadgets you're peddling at CES.