I don’t always agree with TechCrunch and its practices but with regards to this particular issue, I have to say I support Arrington’s view. I think his proposal of omitting sensitive job interview records but posting other info is actually quite reasonable. And he is also right in saying that journalists should strive to discover and disclose info that is previously hidden from or unavailable to the public.
The primary reason being, besides convenience in communication, a major revolution the Internet has brought upon us is access to information. Because it helps reducing information asymmetry, which is often the cause of unfair results from transactions — think KBB and how it’s helping all of us save money by providing us with information that are previously unavailable to car buyers.
So of course it is unlawful that the hackers invaded into Google Apps and stole the docs and they should be punished. But now that TechCrunch has come into possession of such information, if not disclosed, it will give themselves (and others who have access) an unfair advantage over other market participants. Even though it doesn’t seem like such an advantage would cause anyone any loss immediately, it does have potential to create market imbalances, e.g. if a Twitter app developer, having access to Twitter’s feature road map, can work ahead and give himself an unfair advantage over his competition.
Therefore, though there’s a gray area in between freedom and ethics within journalism, the society as a whole would benefit much from transparent disclosures. For this reason, I think we should encourage Arrington to publish the information and all journalists to do the same when they face similar situations in the future.