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Bit of a dilemna

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by huntsie, Aug 30, 2007.

  1. huntsie

    huntsie Active Member

    Bit of a situation and wondering what you would do as a journalist/friend. Or vice versa.
    A local restaurant was closed temporarily yesterday due to a couple of cases of salmonella poisoning. One of the victims is my neighbour's son. He's two years old, spent a week in hospital. He's been released now and is back to being himself.
    I know the natural follow to reporting the restaurant closing -- if there is one -- is to talk to one of the victims. But these people are my friends, and the mom just wants to put the whole thing behind her.
    Should I point the paper in her direction and try to convince her to tell her story so that people know the gravity of the situation? Or should I just let it lie?
  2. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    As long as she, or any part of her family, are not employees of the paper
    Someone else does the reporting. Her story is newsworthy.
  3. Cansportschick

    Cansportschick Active Member

    Huntsie, the story is newsworthy. I think it would be good to tell her side of the story. You know what they say, "there are two sides to every story".
  4. beanpole

    beanpole Member

    Give her number to another reporter, let him/her make the call. Your neighbor can decide if she wants to talk, but you should stay out of it.
  5. Elliotte Friedman

    Elliotte Friedman Moderator Staff Member

    If I was in your shoes: First of all, I'd move to Toronto. (Just kidding, my man.)

    I'd say to the mother, "Look, I know you want to keep this quiet. And please, don't be angry at me for saying this. But, how disappointed/upset would you be if your two-year-old child spent two weeks in the hospital, and THEN you found out he/she wasn't the first? Wouldn't you be really angry at the other parent/restaurant manager for not warning anyone?

    "We're just trying to make sure no other parent goes through this kind of agony, that's all."

    I've seen that work before.
  6. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member


    This is a no-brainer. It's news that the restaurant was closed and why. It's a public health issue. There may be other folks sick out there and don't know why.

    And what would make a better story? Writing that two people got sick or quoting the parents of a 2-year-old who spent a week in the hospital?

    At the very least you should ask them if they would be willing to talk to a reporter and then if so forward the contact information to the proper folks in the newsroom.

    Frankly, the only way this should be a "dilemma" for you is if you were pals with the owner of the restaurant.
  7. DEB

    DEB Member

    Since I have two very young kids, I would want to know about it. You should get the paper to convince her to tell her story.
  8. On a side note, huntsie, you gramnar skills need a little tweaking.
  9. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    If the mother says she does not want to talk abut it, you have absolutely no right to give her contact information to anyone at the paper without her permission. That is a gross invasion of the family's privacy.
    You should try to convince her to tell her story, try to get her to contact the reporter working on the story and tell her side. But if the woman does not want to talk about it, you have no right to give out her phone number.
  10. KG

    KG Active Member

  11. fishwrapper

    fishwrapper Active Member

    That may be a bit strong.
    Not debating this case per se, but a phone number isn't a social security number.
    One can attain a phone number in the phonebook, the national reverse phone directory and even at the county recorder's office.
    This is a public safety issue. Divulging the number certainly has social merit.
  12. spnited

    spnited Active Member

    If the family does not want to talk about it, I would never give anyone their phone number.
    I'm not even sure I would tell another reporter that the kid was part of the story if I knew the mom didn't want to be part of the story.

    These people don't have a responsibility to talk to us. They have a right to live their lives how they wish and if that means not talking about this issue, so be it.

    As a friend, I would potect their right to their privacy before I'd become a reporter and help another other reporter call (and perhaps hound) them.
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