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"Odd Man Out" ethics

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by WaylonJennings, Feb 12, 2009.

  1. This week, Sports Illustrated has a highly entertaining excerpt from a book titled "Odd Man Out" by a former minor league pitcher-turned-Harvard Medical School student.

    In the excerpt, the author, Matt McCarthy, reveals a lot of word-for-word details from private conversations - with names attached.

    (Example - "I fucked a girl in the hot tub at my graduation party. It was amazing.")

    I suppose the same questions were raised - by the commissioner himself, if I recall - when "Ball Four" was published. On one hand, I love the narrative. On the other, holy shit if any of my fraternity brothers or high school friends ever decided to write a memoir about our times together. I've entertained, from time to time, the thought of running for office some day. That would ensure that would never happen.

    Anyway, should there be an implied understanding that private conversations, like the ones between 21-year-old teammates, remain private?
  2. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    Seriously now, do you have a realistic expectation that if you tell someone something -- especially something juicy -- that it will remain private?

    If you want something to remain private, keep your yap shut. If you tell someone, expect them to blab -- or blog or write a book.
  3. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    From a legal standpoint, liability for such an act would likely depend on whether the particular state recognizes the common law tort of intrusion upon seclusion/solitude, which is one of four basic flavors of the tort of invasion of privacy. Intrusion upon seclusion/solitude occurs when a defendant intrudes into a sphere where the plaintiff had a reasonable expectation of enjoying privacy.

    Whether there is an expectation of privacy in a particular place is judged on a sliding scale. At home you have a high expectation of privacy. At work there may be some expectation of privacy. Sitting in the audience at a movie there is probably no expectation of privacy. Furthermore, the intrusion must be objectionable to a reasonable person.
  4. Ace

    Ace Well-Known Member

    So if Waylon told me something juicy and I blabbed but could prove that I'm nothing but a big-mouth gossip, I'd win in court?
  5. buckweaver

    buckweaver Active Member

    Definitely seems parallel to the Bouton situation, Waylon, but he seems to have come through OK on that. Have no idea what the legal basis for that type of privacy is, although PoO made some great points.
  6. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    I think if you had a reputation in the community as a notorious gossip then yeah, I would generally think you would probably be able to successfully defend yourself. Mind you, any hypothetical claim would be based on state case law so results might vary wildly. Some states might not even recognize the tort.

    Also, I failed to mention that damages would be a whole other issue. For example, did the gossip cause Waylon to lose employment opportunity? Was there some other financial gain/loss that was based on the blabbing? Did you yourself profit from the blabbing, etc.? I think those would be huge hurdles to clear.

    Of course, these are just my personal ruminations based on what I remember from torts class. My guess is that one could easily be in torts litigation for 50 years and never see a intrusion on seclusion case they'd want to take. It's possible, though, and fun to kick around.
  7. playthrough

    playthrough Moderator Staff Member

    Ethical or not, that was a great book excerpt. Read it and immediately went to my local library's Web site to reserve a copy (ducking from wrath of book publishers) and there were a half-dozen people already ahead of me.
  8. Cousin Jeffrey

    Cousin Jeffrey Active Member

    Yeah, I'm getting it right away. I would imagine Bobby Jenks won't be ordering it for his Kindle.
  9. crusoes

    crusoes Active Member

    Or let it slip to your girlfriend, wife, mother, or all three.
  10. Ben_Hecht

    Ben_Hecht Active Member

    My library system doesn't have it in the system, yet.

    They DO have the Torre/Verducci book in their system, though, and the waiting list for that weighty tome currently stands at 84 (NOT including me . . . )
  11. Walter_Sobchak

    Walter_Sobchak Active Member

    I read it, and while it had some juicy gossip and interesting anecdotes, and for the most part was well-written, I can't help but think McCarthy made numerous enemies with the book.
  12. I actually thought Jenks came off pretty well, particuarly with his disgust regarding steroid use.
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