Monday, November 17, 2008

NY Times troubling reliance on children for reporting

It's a tried and true method--get to the parents through the kids, change the world, etc. Look at Al Gore, whose DVD was sent to most taxpayer supported public schools in this and other countries. (A Major League Baseball executive cites brainwashed school children's views as proof of man-made global warming). This removes all hope of individualism, parents are removed from shaping their own child's thoughts.
  • (NY Times Public Editor, 11/17/08): "NOT long before the election, The Times published an unflattering front-page profile of Cindy McCain, inspiring a new round of accusations that the newspaper was biased against her husband.
  • Some critics were especially angry about one of the reporting tactics: Trying to find sources for information about Mrs. McCain,
  • a reporter reached out to 16- and 17-year-olds through Facebook, the social networking site....
How a newspaper like The Times should deal with minors — as news sources and as the subjects of articles — is a continually troubling issue. Facebook, MySpace and other such public windows into personal lives have made the issue more complicated. But the fundamental ethical questions remain the same:
  • Kantor’s Facebook messages and a Times interview late last month with a 12-year-old witness to a high-profile arrest again tested where the balance is between the interests of the newspaper — and its readers —
  • and the interests of children who may not understand the consequences of talking with a reporter.***

Kantor said she messaged students at three private schools, trying to find out if the McCains’ 16-year-old daughter, Bridget, attended one of them. She said she wanted to interview parents who knew Cindy McCain as a normal part of reporting on someone who might become the first lady. “I’ve talked to parents at the Obamas’ kids’ schools,” she said.

***That's exactly why the Times puts children in this position. (sm)

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