Variety, CNN examine journalistic issues with Sony hack

No SPECTRE spoilers in this post.

Variety and CNN have examined the issues facing journalists covering the unfolding implications of the computer hacking at Sony Pictures.

Various Sony documents have been made public by hackers, including personal information of Sony employees, emails by executives and unreleased movies. The hacked materials include a draft script of SPECTRE, the James Bond film currently in production.

“It’s getting harder for me to report on the contents of Sony’s leak without wondering whether I’m somehow complicit with these nefarious hackers by relaying the details of seemingly every pilfered terabyte,” Andrew Wallenstein, Variety’s co-editor-in-chief, wrote IN A COMMENTARY published Dec. 11.

Wallenstein’s commentary discusses the journalistic desire for scoops and newsworthiness of the information versus the circumstances of the Sony hack. He says he has “arrived at an uneasy peace with why the leaks can’t just be ignored.”

“Unfortunately, the data is in the public domain for all to consume,” the Variety editor wrote. “Should information from a leak force someone like (movie producer Scott) Rudin to make a public apology, how do you report on the apology without citing what he is apologizing for?”

Rudin was involved in an exchange of emails with Sony executive Amy Pascal where they joked about the race of U.S. President Barack Obama.

At the same time, Wallenstein wrote, “Let’s get real: The hackers are playing the press as pawns.” To read the entire commentary, CLICK HERE. The leaks involving SPECTRE aren’t mentioned.

On Dec. 14, CNN’s Reliable Sources media-review show included a segment about the Sony hacks. Host Brian Stelter disclosed e-mails he sent to Sony executives while working on stories had been part of data dumps by the hackers.

“None of my communications were embarrassing but it does not feel good to know now the world can see who my sources were,” the host said.

“This is stolen material,” Stelter added. “So should journalists like I and many others feel free to republish something that was taken illegally?” That led into a segment with Variety’s Wallenstein and Don Lemon, a CNN anchor.

To view the Reliable Sources segment, CLICK HERE., It doesn’t mention SPECTRE specifically, either. The CNN/Money website last week published a post about SPECTRE’s budget based on e-mails that were part of the Sony hacking.

UPDATE: Writer Aaron Sorkin wrote a commentary in THE NEW YORK TIMES arguing the press shouldn’t be reporting anything from the hacked Sony information.