Journalistic ethics and privacy

I read, which is a great source for good longform articles (unsurprisingly). Which is how I came across a 2006 piece on a Washington children’s performer. It’s actually much more interesting than it sounds; a well written piece on a complex and interesting person, who comes across as very likeable.

But I struggled reading the piece; there was a transcript of a conversation (close to the end of the article), that seems to be a word-for-word reporting of the journalist probing into an extremely difficult topic, without any concern for the person whom he’s asking questions of. And then, reporting the whole thing to the world.

I imagine there was probably consent by the children’s performer to be interviewed, and his mother voluntarily gave up information on what was a really scary, difficult thing that happened to him as a child. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who’s done more in-depth thinking on ethics in journalism. But reading this piece I felt deeply uncomfortable; this person’s privacy was violated, and it felt wrong.

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