Monday, February 07, 2005

Never having to say you're sorry

Apparently being the Globe means never having to say you’re sorry. Today’s Boston Globe Omsbudman column contains an astounding illustration of mainstream media arrogance and hypocrisy. Here is the report from the Globe.
Sex and an ID
At issue: A Jan. 3 feature on a sex abstinence class at Lynn English High School, which quoted by name a 15-year-old who regretted having sex.

Complaint: "The point could have just as easily been made without naming her and making very public something that for her own good should have been kept private," e-mailed reader Jennifer Balog. "It does not matter if she willingly gave her name . . . it is the responsibility of adults, especially those in positions of power, to protect others when they may not realize that they need to be protected. There is a reason that the names of juveniles are often kept private . . . the same reasoning should have applied here."

Response, from City Editor Foon Rhee: "The reader raises a sensitive issue, one that reporters and editors do not take lightly. It's something of a balancing act. In some situations, special care needs to be taken with juveniles. But in general, we name the people that we quote. That was the decision in this case, in which the teenager volunteered to talk to a reporter and her account was briefly mentioned, near the end of the story."
Why is it too much just to say that you are sorry? Note that this month during extensive coverage of the trial of de-frocked priest Paul Shanley, the Globe did not reveal the name of the key witness, who though an adult did not want his name published in the paper. Clearly publishing the name of a 15-year old in the above context is foolish lapse of judgment. Ombudsman Christine Chinlund repeats that lapse by not having the cojones to admit it, or even to answer directly the reader’s question as to why this young girl did not receive from the Boston Globe the same consideration that the criminal justice system affords to any juvenile.

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