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Legacy Scholar Grant
The Page Center will award grants to support scholars and professionals making important contributions to knowledge, practice or public understanding of ethics and resposibility in public communication or other principles of Arthur W. Page.
Penn State Live
|Gene Foreman - June 2009|
TASTE AND SENSITIVITY
14. Interviewer: What about privacy issues? We haven’t talked about those yet. Can you think of any cases in your career where a person’s privacy may have been violated and maybe you would do it differently now that the standards evolved in that area? Is it because of a deterioration of standards in that area because we grant people less privacy than we used to?
Foreman: Well, you asked me about my career. I think that in my time as managing editor of the Inquirer, a number of stories that we did I think that looking at individual people or families, I think that maybe they weren’t properly briefed. We’d like to think that if they are going to bear their souls to our reporter and then to our reading public, then they need to be given caution and it ought to be sort of a negative sales job that you need to understand that this is going to be in the paper? We want you to be comfortable with that and we’d like to tell your story. But this is a very intimate story; please think about that. I think that we probably should have emphasized that a lot more and make sure our reporters were getting informed consent. A case study in my book that you’ve probably seen before is “Heart Without a Home,” done by the Raleigh News Observer a few years ago in which they had a good idea. They were going to try to put a face, a human face, on the immigrants from Mexico who worked in North Carolina. So they got this worker to agree to be the person in the story. The worker got deported after the story came out, which a lot of people at the paper said it was going to happen when they saw the story themselves. (The immigrant) said later that he did not give informed consent in so many words. That it was OK to tell that story, but not the fact that I don’t have papers. The reporter said that he did, and she was fluent in Spanish, is Hispanic herself, and she said that he did. He was a grown person and she said that he asked that they read this in Charlotte, which was code for the Immigration Nationalization Service in that region. She said they might, and he said tell my story. This is what happened. I think that the upshot was that the paper felt that they probably should have done a better job at making sure the man understood what exactly was going to happen.