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Does this cross a line?

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by TigerVols, Aug 27, 2010.

  1. TigerVols

    TigerVols Well-Known Member

    A 17-year-old girl who is the daughter of a US Ambassador apparently accidentally fell to her death after a night out partying in NYC. OK, I can see why that would be news.

    But in my opinion this story crosses a line when it starts to quote in depth (actually, it crosses the line just by quoting at all) random musings this girl (a minor, don't forget!) posted on a Facebook-like site. She's not a celebrity, her life prior to her death was not newsworthy, and her death was not the result of a crime. Therefore, it seems to me the AP has no business republishing at length the personal comments made by a young girl.

    What say you?

  2. WriteThinking

    WriteThinking Well-Known Member

    I'm not sure I would have used those quotes, but I don't think doing so crosses a line. Not these days.

    Unfortunately, the lines are blurred, and different, than they ever have been in the past.

    Information is more "out there," and available. These days, Facebook is just another tool of information on people. By putting your stuff out there, there is at least an implied permission granted for others to use it, kind of like telephone-book listings.

    This example simply illustrates one of the concerns regarding the use of Facebook and other social media and demonstrates, again, how/why people need to take care in what they post and what they make visible to whom.
  3. Smasher_Sloan

    Smasher_Sloan Active Member

    No line crossed. It's not like someone grabbed her diary and opened it. Online postings are quite literally on the record.
  4. RickStain

    RickStain Well-Known Member

    Not a line that hasn't been crossed a million times before, but still a lack of discretion. Of course the reporter can use it. The question is whether they should. I find it a little distasteful.
  5. Shaggy

    Shaggy Guest

    I first referenced a Facebook page in an article in 2005, and I wondered for months and months after the fact whether it was OK to do so.

    Today, I wouldn't think twice. I think it's OK. Sites like these give a genuine glimpse into your life.
  6. JimmyHoward33

    JimmyHoward33 Well-Known Member

    Is it any different than printing an address from a phone book? No line crossed.
  7. Fredrick

    Fredrick Well-Known Member

    plus how do they know it's really her facebook? Seems like it's not worth the bother and the intrusion.
  8. mediaguy

    mediaguy Well-Known Member

    Some of it seemed a little mundane. Stopped just short of "She seemed upbeat Thursday, scoring a 22 out of 25 on a quiz involving 1980s television theme songs."
  9. TigerVols

    TigerVols Well-Known Member

    She's a minor.

    Why are journalists finding it newsworthy that she was unhappy in high school in Bangkok? That has nothing to do with the story of her death.

    It's intrusive and creepy.
  10. ringer

    ringer Member

    It was a bit jarring. Seemed like an effort to quote a dead person.

    But from a journalistic standpoint, I seriously question the criteria for choosing those particular citations. Clearly, it was an effort to depict her a certain way based on the circumstances of the fatal fall.
  11. Kato

    Kato Active Member

    I got an adjunct-teaching position and am teaching Intro to Mass Communications, 100-level, big-lecture course filled mostly with freshmen. On the second day of class, I was trying to explain the differences between interpersonal communication, group communication and mass communication. I used FB as an example. If you send a private message to a friend on FB, that's interpersonal but post a status update or post on a friend's wall and that's essentially mass communication. You're broadcasting to a potentially huge audience (depending on the privacy settings, I suppose). I'm not sure if they were shocked by that or simply accept it. Like it or not, though that stuff is public and I'm guessing the writer wasn't the only curious person checking out this girl's Facebook page. I'd hardly call that intrusive. From there, though, a writer has to be careful as to choosing what, if anything, is really relevant to the story.
  12. Double Down

    Double Down Well-Known Member

    Kato, I spoke to a j-school class recently and tried to make a similar point and the kids were not pleased. They seemed to think Facebook wall posts should be off limits even if their privacy settings do not reflect that. I think the current generation has a hard time with the Look At Me But Don't Violate My Privacy conflict.
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