Jeff Bercovici from Daily Finance.com thinks so.
According to Bercovici’s story, Gawker Media, which runs the gadget site, Gizmodo.com, admitted to paying $5,000 to get its hands on the new fourth generation iPhone. The seller apparently told Gizmodo he found the phone in a bar in Redwood City, California. Gizmodo forked over the cash and got themselves a worldwide scoop. They say they were planning to give the phone back all along.
Paying for stories has always been bad journalism. Encouraging people to behave badly just to get a scoop, is also bad journalism.
Update: Now the case looks like it has become a criminal one LINK.