General Question

The_Compassionate_Heretic's avatar

Is it within the boundaries of journalistic ethics to post the name and photos of the 4 year old child of a homeless person?

Asked by The_Compassionate_Heretic (14621points) July 18th, 2009

The local news ran a story about a chronically homeless panhandler in the city who had her son taken away by CPS. Some readers are upset that his name was used and his photographs were posted along with the article. How do you feel about this?

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9 Answers

hungryhungryhortence's avatar

That’s touchy. I wouldn’t like it if it were my child but then again, if I were homeless then I’d hope I could put aside my pride for the better of my child’s welfare.

N0name's avatar

I would agree with those readers. I think that personal information should not be exposed to the public, without the agreement of the that person. Especially when we talk about young children which can not answer for themselves.
When you take a look at the celebrity children they also are hidden from public eyes. Of course here we also face other reasons, but still.

ABoyNamedBoobs03's avatar

Though not way over the top, it’s walking a fine line. Posting the name and pictures of an adult is one thing, but say the child goes into a foster home, grows up relatively normal, and some kid at his school finds that article in some web archive and tells all his classmates about it. It’d be very hurtful most likely.

Fly's avatar

I agree with the disapproving readers as well. That child has no say in any of it…he didn’t choose the lifestyle he was born into, and most certainly would not have wanted his name and face posted all over the newspaper, broadcasting his misfortunes for the entertainment of those more fortunate than he. As he moves on and starts over with a foster family and attends a new school, his name will remain. If a parent of a child in his comes across that article, they may judge the child and want their child(ren) to stay away from him, and warn other parents, or other such unfortunate things could occur. This would be devastating to the child. And that article will still follow him as he grows into an adult. Applying for jobs could become more difficult because a simple background check brought up the article from his past. Though these scenarios are also unethical, things like that are all too likely to happen, all because of a newspaper’s lapse of judgment.

A_Wood's avatar

There’s always a thin line when it comes to journalism ethics, and some journalists are trained to cross it. For instance, an friend of my who recently graduated college with a Bachelors in Journalism told me that one of his assignments was to interview a fake family immediately after their house had burnt down and they had lost one person in the fire. Now, despite the fact that this was just a mock simulation, I think it’s horrible that some journalists are being told it’s alright to do that. Don’t you think they’ve gone through enough already? Don’t you think that little boy has gone through enough already, only to be reminded by this article?

SuperMouse's avatar

I’m curious about the reasoning behind printing the name and the picture. I’m not sure how it could have added to the story or really done much good at all.

marinelife's avatar

My husband, a print/Web journalist—not TV, says that four-year-olds are not adults. There are all sorts of restrictions on what’s published about minors. He says that he does not think the name and photo should have been used.

Darwin's avatar

I agree that the name and photo should not have been used, especially because there is some potential stigma attached to this situation. The question arises in my mind about where the name and photo came from. If it was released by CPS, then most likely someone violated strict privacy rules and someone should get into deep trouble over it. However, if released by the mother, then CPS could possibly use that as further evidence in favor of removing the child from its mother’s care.

Sometimes names and photos of children are indeed published when the guardian of the child gave permission. Generally, however, these are positive stories, such as covering the doings of a youth group.

YARNLADY's avatar

Publishing the name and picture of the child is wrong, unless they were trying to find a relative to determine custody.

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