Saturday, May 9, 2009

Journalism ethics expert: Miami Herald should explain why it printed woman's address

Al Tompkins, who teaches journalism ethics at the Poynter Institute, told Bill at Random Pixels the Miami Herald should explain why it printed the address of the woman at the center of the scandal involving Miami priest Father Cutie.

I... asked Al Tompkins, who teaches journalism ethics at the Poynter Institute in St. Petersburg, if the Herald erred when it printed woman's address.

"What's the purpose?" asked Tompkins. "It's his [CutiƩ] story."

"If you're going to publish the address, explain why...the reason. Explain the relevance."

Tompkins said the Herald could have accomplished this by running an editor's note explaining why it felt compelled to print the woman's address.

Tompkins says there are circumstances that would justify printing the address: "If she lived in a convent," or at "10 Downing Street," for instance.

Tompkins explains that the rule in journalism is "never invade privacy; respect privacy."

Tompkins went on to say that some one's right to privacy is sometimes outweighed by the public's need to know. Such as a politician's private business dealings that might come into conflict with his ability to serve....

So The Herald jumped feet first into the feeding frenzy and in its quest to be first it blurred a few ethical lines.

Hopefully when all the heavy breathing subsides, someone at the Herald will sit down at a keyboard and explain who made the decisions regarding this story.
In a follow-up email, Tomkins added this: "We do invade privacy when there is a legitimate reason -- when the invasion is outweighed by the public good." The Herald needs to explain what public good was served by printing this woman's address.

My previous post on this issue is here.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Why? For this raving idiot, soon to be out of a job moron, it's just another loving act of tribadism for another perez hilton type