Took a call last night from a local reporter, Matt Dees, who part of the crew doing a series of stories on a sordid murder in Clayton. Three members of the family involved had/have blogs. Two of those members are kids in high school with Xanga and mySpace blogs. We chatted a bit about blogs in general. I wondered a little about reporting from the blog of a kid who is underage and acting out different identies on his/her blog. I pointed out that most kids even in college, see Fred’s facebook study on privacy, don’t think so much about just how much they reveal about themselves.
After we spoke, I went to the sites. Then I wrote Matt this note:
thinking since we spoke. how ethical is it for a professional journalist to quote from the blog of an underaged child (even a punk rocker)? if we agree that kids don’t actually understand that what they are writing in public, does that mean that their writings aren’t really fair game for news stories?
i don’t have the answers here i’m just wondering now that i’ve seen zzzzz’s site. obviously he’s trying on identities and he has friends who support him, but won’t he look weird to most folks reading the nando? does he deserve a kind of privacy that he didn’t seek for himself? should say kxxxxx’s or lxxxxx’s phone number be news or should it be protected? what is okay to use? remember we’re not talking about adults who should in theory be more aware. not even students at ncsu who put up pics of themselves with beer…
UPDATE: News and Observer editor Melanie Sill has a blog entry about this issue and about not playing the 911 tape. There are many reader comments too.