RE: JOURNALISM 101

For Those Who Care, a news-gathering FBvian adds to the debate:

Having served several years working the cop beat as a newspaper reporter and having logged countless hours riding shotgun with Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission agents, I thought I’d offer my two cents on the subject of reporting the parental identity of the 18-year-old beer buster.

First, an adult is an adult when it comes to identification. High school graduate or not, if you are 18, you are fair game in my book. If you accept Wick’s position, then what do you do about the thousands of 18-year-old suspects who haven’t set foot in a high school classroom in years? When do I get to identify the guy who hasn’t graduated and likely never will? Do I have to review the suspect’s report cards and determine the likelihood of his earning a diploma before I can decide to ID him or not? I don’t think so.

Now, as for naming Mr. Moroney, there is only one circumstance where I feel it would have been appropriate to offer up his name in the story — if the bust took place at his house. I’ve not read the story, so I’m not clear as to whether that was the case. But, otherwise, his identity simply has no relevance to the story. Unlike the Bush daughters who were busted in Austin, I would argue that Moroney’s daughter doesn’t meet the same “public figure” standards that would warrant the identification of her father.

Make no mistake — I’m NO fan of Jim Moroney, but it is, in my opinion, journalistically unethical to have named him in connection with the bust.

Regardless of your position on the matter, I applaud you for discussing your debate openly. I believe, at a time when so many people have lost complete faith in the media, it is a great thing for readers of the FrontBurner to see that some journalists are still very much concerned about trying to do the right thing. There are far too many in the news business these days who simply don’t bother themselves with the ethics of their actions, so it’s good to show the world that these kinds of debates do still take place in some newsrooms.

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