Over the past three weeks, various news outlets have broken a series of stories based on a massive trove of private data that was stolen from Sony Pictures. Much of the information has been damaging or embarrassing: confidential budget and salary information, unannounced plans for upcoming films, and private emails full of backtalk and squabbling.
But the hack has also raised ethical questions for the outlets doing the reporting: is the newsworthiness of these stories enough to justify the fact that they were stolen and disseminated by a group of hackers? In a scathing op-ed for The New York Times, Aaron Sorkin — whose own piece of media criticism, HBO's The Newsroom, aired its series finale last night — attacked the journalistic outlets that have published these stories. "Newsworthy," writes Sorkin "As the character Inigo Montoya said in The Princess Bride, I do not think it means what you think it means."
I know there's juicy stuff in the emails and I know some of us have been insulted and I know there's more to come. No one's private life can totally withstand public scrutiny. But this is much bigger than hurt feelings and banged-up egos.
If you close your eyes you can imagine the hackers sitting in a room, combing through the documents to find the ones that will draw the most blood. And in a room next door are American journalists doing the same thing. As demented and criminal as it is, at least the hackers are doing it for a cause. The press is doing it for a nickel. [The New York Times]