Journalists Weigh in on the Ethics of the Sony Hack Stories

We all know how Sony, Aaron Sorkin, Brad Pitt and Rubenstein Communications think the media world should respond to ongoing leaks from the Sony Pictures hack: ignore them.

CNN’s Reliable Sources (hosted by the Brian Stelter, founder of our sister site TVNewser) asked the question on Sunday and got some mixed different answers. In the first part of the interview, Andrew Wallenstein of Variety frames the question as a serious one, saying, “I don’t do that lightly…it was going to get out there anyway, and we have to be part of the conversation.”

Dawn Chmielewski of Re\code was a bit more blunt on New Day:

Well, then. Check out Gawker’s explanation of the issue — which mentions the leak of a clip from The Interview depicting the death of the very Korean dictator at the heart of this story — to Mike Allen of Politico after the jump.

Here’s what Gawker told Allen:

“The video is at the center of speculation about the possible impetus for the Sony security breach. It’s imminently newsworthy and we’ve used just enough to show what some think prompted the hack. Gawker’s been at the forefront of the conversation on why the hack occurred and what it’s revealed about a major corporation’s dealings with several prominent public figures — all of those reports and the use of the less than 30 second clip are squarely protected by the First Amendment.”

In short, Sony’s “ignore these stories or we will sue you” strategy will not work; neither will Aaron Sorkin’s “ignore these stories or feel very bad about yourself as a person” op-ed.

With the hackers now threatening violence at theaters that screen the film, the story will only continue to grow more newsworthy. We may, as consumers, choose to plug our ears and switch off our screens, but the stories will remain unavoidable — and Sony needs to come up with a new strategy like, yesterday.