Be a social media superhero

In Chapter 10 of Journalism Next (read this for next week’s classes), Mark Briggs writes about managing news as a conversation and how powerful social media can be for journalists.

But, to quote Peter Parker’s Uncle Ben, with great power comes great responsibility.

Jake Sherlock will join us next Thursday to talk about social media and journalism.

Tuesday, we will begin discussing a case from the Columbia University Journalism School Knight Case Studies project. It’s called “The Facebook Conundrum: The New Haven Independent and the Annie Le Murder.”

Here’s what you have to do before Tuesday:

Read the case study (it’s 13 pages but fascinating and thought-provoking). Think about the decision-making process the Independent went through as the story progressed. There are two, distinct categories of questions in this case: The first category relates to the reporting of the story and the second to the editor’s role.

Consider these questions:

  1. What are Bailey’s responsibilities to Del Rocco when reporting on her Facebook page?
  2. What factors should Bass weigh to determine whether to run Del Rocco’s posts?

Next: Post brief responses to these questions in the comments on this blog post. Doing so will help you distill your thoughts.

On Tuesday, you will partner with someone and briefly talk about the reporter’s dilemma in this case. If time allows, we will talk about the editor’s options in this case.

The questions are difficult, but let’s face it: They’re not going away anytime soon. Social media are here to stay.

 

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53 Responses to Be a social media superhero

  1. Kelly Moffitt says:

    1. Bailey is being very generous to Del Rocco to conceal her identity in the news reports. Del Rocco friended an unknown person and did not think to check to see who it was. That is accepting the chance to have that information shared.

    2. But here’s the rub: If Bailey had asked Del Rocco to run those posts would she have wanted them run? Probably not. Bass should weigh that in when thinking about whether to include them. There will always be that guilty feeling for running something you really know the other person would not be okay with.

    Which to go with? I would run it. Her comments add important background to the story. The key is to not try to interpret what those comments mean which could be hard with a story such as this.

  2. Caitlin Wherley says:

    1. Del Rocco didn’t specifically ask to not be named, she only denied an interview; but because she was involved with the case, the Independent chose not to run her name as they did with the suspect.
    I agree with Kelly. Del Rocco should’ve done some investigating herself when Bailey, a woman she didn’t know, asked to be her friend right after he ex-boyfriend was named as a suspect. If I were Del Rocco, a red flag would’ve gone up immediately.
    2. Bass should think seriously about whether Del Rocco’s posts add anything to the story. Since the Independent was the only news outlet with this kind of information, what Bailey found would’ve contributed greatly to the story. But something Bass has to think about is just how credible the posts are. Many times, what gets posted on Facebook or Twitter is just gossip. Would the Independent track down every one of Del Rocco’s “friends” to make sure what they said is true?
    When the Missourian proposed changes to its guidelines for conflicts (and social media), I was extremely interested. In the ever-changing digital age, what is considered public and what is considered private? Where do we draw the line?

  3. danramey says:

    1. I have similar feelings as Kelly and Caitlin. In today’s world where pretty much everyone has access to the Internet and social media sites, you have to be careful with who you “friend.” I know that in my personal experience, I will only friend a person that I know to ensure that something that I don’t want to get out doesn’t get out.
    On the other hand, though, I think the fact that Del Rocco kept Bailey as a friend even after she revealed herself as a reporter shows that she had some trust in the reporter. I think in Bailey’s position, it would be important to maintain this trust especially since Del Rocco could become a very good source to the story if she did decide to speak out.

    2. For me, one of the biggest factors is the fact that the Independent is a community newspaper and wants to minimize the harm it does to the community. I think Bass needs to look at how publishing the posts would affect the surrounding community and whether it would cause it to lose trust in the organization. As a community news source, the Independent has a different relationship to its audience than a paper like the New York Times.
    Also, like Caitlin, I think Bass also needs to think about what the posts add to the story. Is the information contained in those posts worth jeopardizing the trust that the Independent has built with its audience.

  4. 1) Bailey identified herself as a reporter and Del Rocco continued to maintain her ‘friend’ status. I think this did give the Independent permission to use information from Del Rocco’s Facebook page. In fact, Del Rocco would surely have been aware that as a reporter, Bailey would be going through her posts and trying to find information relevant to Clark.
    I think Bailey’s responsibilities were to make her intentions clear to Del Rocco, which she did. The Independent was still generous enough not to use her name when they wrote about the police report.
    The case study doesn’t mention specifically whether or not they ran with the posts, but I looked it up: http://www.newhavenindependent.org/archives/2009/09/alleged_annie_l.php

    Since they published them, as a matter of courtesy, I think Bailey could have informed Del Rocco what she was going to do. Not ask permission, but just give her a heads up that this material was going to be published. In the actual article however, the Independent did run this line (about her not wanting to be interviewed):
    “She declined to discuss the matter with the Independent.”

    2) The main factor Bass should consider, which he seemed to have done, is the potential to cause harm.
    Also, invasion of privacy. Again, since Del Rocco specifically declined the interview but did not bar Bailey from access to her page, the Independent technically had permission to view her information.
    I respect their decision as a community newspaper not to use her name, and overall I think they made the right call (or as right as you can get in the crazy world of social media) to publish her posts while not revealing her identity.

    Personally speaking, if I allowed a reporter covering a story related to me to be my ‘friend’ on Facebook, I would think of it as giving her permission to use material. I would like it of course, if she at least informed me that she was going to use it.

  5. 1) I’m not sure how I feel about the use of Facebook in reporting in this situation. While it is true that Del Rocco didn’t de-friend Bailey even after she was identified as a reporter, I feel like this area is not only new for reporters, it is also new for the public.
    We think of her continued “friendship” as consent because we are analyzing it, but Del Rocco may have just thought, oh, she friended me to ask for an interview and I declined, so that’s the end of that. It may not have even occurred to her that there was a risk of status updates being in the news.
    The way I think of it is this- if a reporter identified themselves as such and were declined an interview, but then heard the source say something to a friend, would they be able to use it without permission? Probably not, ethically speaking. While the Internet blurs the line even more because of its public nature, I feel Bailey probably should have checked with Del Rocco before publishing something from her page, if only to see how strongly she would object and make a judgment from that.
    In addition, (and I’m sure she would, but I’m just saying) I think it should definitely be quoted as a Facebook update, not making it sound as if she said it to the reporter, for transparency’s sake.

    2) Well, first and foremost is the aspect of personal harm because even if they kept Del Rocco anonymous it would only be a matter of time before someone figured it out- even if it was one of her Facebook friends (frenemies, maybe) matching the status updates to the news story. Especially in a case using social media, I think an identity would be nearly impossible to keep completely secret.
    Also, like a few people have brought up, would these posts really be worth the possibility of a breach of ethics. They may have added a little color but someone saying they’re “utterly shocked” isn’t really vital to the story unless everyone is saying it, then maybe- but you’d also have other people saying it so you wouldn’t need the Facebook quotes at all.
    However, I think the gang-murder case the article brought up would be a time where you should seriously consider using the information found online, because that was most likely very, very relevant to his death and probably added a lot to the story.

    It just seems to me that Del Rocco’s comments were mostly about her and her reaction rather than about Clark and wouldn’t really be worth risking an ethical dilemma, though they should be used to foster dialogue about what to do in these situations (as it obviously is).

  6. rynashley says:

    1) It is tempting to say that Bailey under no circumstances should ever publish posts made by Del Rocco meant only to be seen by her “friends.” It is equally as tempting to Bailey that she has no responsibility to Del Rocco, being that she willingly accepted to the friend request of a person she did not know — especially a journalist.
    2) It is almost too simple, but that’s really what makes it complicated. At the time that Bass is attempting to make this decision, Del Rocco is a private individual. Even in concealing her name, the Independent risks identifying her by mentioning her posts, especially posts run verbatim. They had already mentioned the police report, and it was very possible that she could have been identified already. Adding the posts might confirm this to an audience that was previously skeptical. Does he chance it? Del Rocco would later choose to make herself a public figure. Should he wait to see if her name emerges? Either way the Independent will opt to remain consistent. Using the Voinov story as precedent, they are ethically OK. The dilemma is whether privacy is actually expected, or if it is a technicality — otherwise, there may be no intrusion.

    P.S. I remember when the Annie Le case was on all the time. Then it seems like I never heard anymore about it. Maybe I just stopped watching CNN.

  7. As the case study mentioned a number of times, “social networking on the Web blurred the line between public and private.” That’s the main issue here, one that will forever be controversial.

    1. According to the case study, Bailey said that the comments on the Facebook page “would add newsworthy color and currency to the story about the police report.” It is hard to distinguish the right thing to do, and I think Bailey’s responsibilities to Del Rocco when reporting on her Facebook page can differ depending on people’s perspectives. In my opinion, the fact that Bailey identified herself as a reporter clears her for using the information. If Del Rocco did not want a reporter investigating her page, she could have simply removed her as a friend. I kind of agree with Kelsey when she suggested running the information by Del Rocco before publishing, and judging whether or not to run it after seeing how much objection there was.

    2. I think the main thing is to ensure that the Independent minimizes any harm that might come out of publishing any report on Del Rocco’s Facebook. I think Bass needs to look at this when deciding what to run. Is the news value greater than the potential harm? In this case, the story was moving along quickly and was full of “juice.” It’s hard to say, but I think if I were in the same situation, I would do the same as the Independent by publishing the information but leaving out the name.
    It’s so hard, because as Alfred Hermida said about social networks, “This content is both private and public at the same time.”

  8. 1. I do think that because Bailey did identify herself as a reporter, she did do her part in making it clear, and if Del Rocco was uncomfortable with her viewing her information, she easily could have removed her as a friend. I do think, however, that Bailey should have asked Del Rocco for consent about publishing her information, because it is such a grey area, I would air on the side of caution. The fact that social media is such a new trend, reporters got by for years before this became a source of information, so to me, having it is an extra bonus, and I would take all the precautions, because I really just don’t feel like it would be worth it.

    2. I do believe that they need to focus heavily on the boundaries (or lack thereof) of personal boundaries, in terms of what is considered “public record” and what is private information. Could people see all of her information without being her friend? Does this have any impact on whether or not to release her information? Since if not, only her friends could see her updates about her ex-boyfriend. I can’t say with confidence my position on the issue, but I do think that is the first thing they need to look into. You can make your Facebook settings as private as you want, but when it comes down to it, is it really private? Or is that the risk you must take and potentially deal with should you become of interest to the media? I’m curious to see what Zuckerburg would say about this. But in any event, I think if they can determine if this is private information or not, it makes every other decision that follows not only easier, but much more definitive.

  9. 1. Most of what I say has already been mentioned. Since Bailey identified herself as a reporter, I think anything on Del Rocco’s facebook was fair game. Of course, Del Rocco declined an interview, so she didn’t want to talk about the incident and go public yet. It’s likely since she had just gone through such a rough few days she wasn’t thinking that her status updates or wall-posts were even being monitored by Bailey. That would probably be the last thing on my mind. Maybe Bailey should have asked if she could use the material, but then she may have taken it down or de-friended her (is that a term?) and lost valuable information. I think the special mission of the Independent also makes this discussion more difficult. I think the decision to use the posts and not cite Del Rocco’s name was the best decision.

    2. I am probably mixing up these two answers, but they go hand in hand. I think Bailey had a responsibility to Del Rocco to protect her identity at least until she gave consent. Bass needs to think about his audience. Is this valuable information to the story? Is it necessary to complete the picture to readers? Are the posts public or private and if they are both how does Bass decide where the line is? In the end I believe Del Rocco was a valuable source with a new perspective on the case and her posts gave the story a whole new dimension. If not the Independent, it would have been someone else eventually.

  10. asgrund says:

    1. Bailey had a responsibility to Del Rocco to inform her that she was a journalist, which she did. She also has the responsibility to at least warn Del Rocco that she will publish, if she chooses to use Del Rocco’s posts. Bailey must be sure to do an accuracy check with Del Rocco. It is too easy for someone to post something inaccurate, or to post something on someone else’s page. Who is to say that it was actually Del Rocco who made those posts?

    2. Bass should factor the importance of the posts. How much do they actually add to the page? I cannot imagine that the “color” they would add would outweigh keeping integrity. Bass should also factor how their audience would view the publication. Would their particular audience see it as journalistic investigative research? Or as a breach of trust?

  11. Amy Backes says:

    1. I agree with kelseyskennedy…there’s a good chance that Del Rocco didn’t even think about de-friending Bailey. There’s a possibility that she denied the interview and forgot about it. At the same time, when Bailey friended Del Rocco, she didn’t disclose that she was a reporter – she didn’t tell her she was a reporter until later. Would Del Rocco have accepted the friend request if she knew that Bailey was a reporter? Since Del Rocco had her Facebook page set on private, Del Rocco should not have used the information without her consent. And after reading the article that was linked, did it really add that much to the story?

    2. I kind of talked about this in the first answer, but since Del Rocco declined an interview, Bailey should have asked for permission to run her tweets. Since Del Rocco’s name had not been mentioned previously in the investigation, Bailey should have taken more caution when deciding whether or not to run the tweets. As stated in previous posts, some “friend” of Del Rocco would have been easily able to identify the tweets as hers.

  12. I don’t think that they should have published the woman’s facebook information directly. If they could access that information, it was ok to use it as a lede to find more information through other sources. In short, if you find out something through facebook, great for you! But don’t publish it: corroborate it through other (more “traditional”) means.

    Facebook friends, like the Guardian guy mentioned on the case study says are not necessarily people that one wants to have as friends. Many people don’t make any discriminations when it comes to accept friend requests, they just accept anybody as a “friend”.

    People haven’t been taught how to use facebook or other social networks, and we, as journalists, should be aware of that issue and question ourselves whether or not we are doing the right thing by making public information that our sources may not want to share with everyone, or that they have not consciously revealed to us in an “on the record” situation. Information coming from people’s facebook profiles is, at the most, “off the record” information. Useful, but it can’t be published.

  13. rosiedowney says:

    1. These ethical problems pertaining to social media are new and it makes sense that we are still working out the kinks. I personally think we should always represent ourselves as reporters and that includes when you contact a potential source on social media. I appreciate that Bailey admitted that next time she would tell the source her occupation. Full disclosure would be the best policy with Del Rocco’s posts as well. Bailey should have treated them like quotes and checked them with the source. Perhaps Del Rocco wouldn’t have wanted her to use them but that way, even if they went ahead and printed them, she would have been aware of the process.

    2. Bass is an editor who is trying to put out a paper that relies on community involvement. Of course he wanted to publish what a source posted online, especially since this same source declined an interview. This might be their only chance to get her on record. That said, what if they printed her name and her feelings about her ex-boyfriend and then he started making threats towards her? You never know. I am usually on the side of protecting people whenever possible.

  14. Sean Leahy says:

    1. When reporting on Del Rocco’s Facebook page, Bailey must make sure she is not doing harm to Del Rocco. She is responsible for using the information in a way that is ethical and will bring more context and insight to the story. Through that, Del Rocco must not suffer from the publication of Facebook status updates. Whether it’s keeping her identity secret or providing full context for her comments, Del Rocco’s safety and dignity must not be put in jeopardy.

    2. First and foremost Bass must consider whether or not the posts are newsworthy. Do they provide vital information or context to this story? How much better will this story be with this information included?

    Secondly he must consider the possibility of Del Rocco being harmed by the publication of her posts. Does the newsworthiness of the posts outweigh potential harm?

    He must also consider being transparent in regards to the posts. He must inform the readers how Bailey came to possess the information and that Del Rocco allowed Bailey to be her friend even after she identified herself as a journalist.

  15. Robert Johnson says:

    1) It was Bailey’s responsibility to send the friend request with a note stating she was a reporter looking to include Del Rocco in a story. When she accepts, everything inside the friend gate is fair game. Obviously Bailey admits this later, but I’m sure she debated it even when she sent the request. I can’t imagine her not.

    I’d have to say there is no straight right or wrong answer. Every one of us feels a certain way about it, and just because I wouldn’t use the posts without asking doesn’t mean I would think any differently of someone who did.

    2) I think the first things Bass should consider is his reporter’s and the paper’s reputation. It would be too easy for the little upstart of an organization that’s been scooping the New York Times to look like it was willing to go to any length to achieve it’s goals.

    After that it’s a legal question put to a very good lawyer.

  16. Matt Drochelman says:

    1. She’s just digging up dirt on someone using something as unreliable as a social media site. Sites like Facebook are like PR for a person and therefore if it’s even accurate information it surely isn’t all of the information. A real conversation is always best and then the ethical concerns go out the window.

    2. I wouldn’t have a problem publishing the info because the things I say on Facebook are often what I want others to see. The image Del Rocco creates with “status” updates are for the public, and to be perfectly honest, probably most of her friends on Facebook aren’t her real friends anyway, more like virtual friends.

  17. Brooke Shunatona says:

    1.) I think the majority of us agree that by accepting the friend request, Del Rocco allowed Bailey, whom she didn’t know, access to anything posted. Maybe Bailey should have warned her about using her comments, but I definitely agree with Kelsey that the reporter should have included she got the information from Del Rocco’s Facebook status.

    2.) No one else had access to the name or comments of Clark’s girlfriend. If I was a reader of the Independent at the time of this story and knew the publication had information on someone close to the main suspect, I would want to read about it. Bailey protected Del Rocco by not publishing her name, but she realized she had an obligation to serve the public and shouldn’t withhold information that the reader couldn’t find elsewhere.

  18. Asif Lakhani says:

    1. Reporters must make their intentions clear. Bailey asked Del Rocco for an interview, which to me is completely different than using information from her page. An interview means soliciting answers from questions we as reporters ask. Using previously published material from Facebook, then, is not an interview. It can be an invasion of privacy (but only sometimes). Bailey asked for an interview and wasn’t granted one, but I don’t recall her asking to use material Del Rocco had already posted for the quasi-public to see because there is a difference (in my opinion anyway).

    Bailey (and all reporters that are in similar situations) had multiple responsibilities here. The first was acknowledging and making sure Del Rocco’s information was for “friends only” to begin with, which she did. The second is granting her source’s wish. You may be able to argue it’s similar to the Bill Watkins case in which he asked us to retain some information. If it’s reasonable to do so, then we must comply. Like a couple of people and the case study have both said, our aim is to “minimize harm to tangential sources and subjects.” The reporter must ask him or herself whether or not the publication of such information would do such a thing and/or if it’s worth it. Lastly, it’s a reporter’s responsibility to exercise proper social networking etiquette, which I think Bailey does here. Proper etiquette in this situation means respecting wishes, understanding how to navigate social networking websites and not intruding on a person’s private life when asked politely.

    2. From the editor’s perspective, I think it’s actually more well-defined. If Del Rocco’s page contains pertinent information about her ex-boyfriend’s ways (say for example, a note or status update about him saying he would kill or wants to kill someone and he’d been planning it) then he’s got to publish. But before doing so he should let Del Rocco know he plans on using such information and then whether or not she cares about the use of any identifying information. If she’s okay with the latter, then it’s simple. If she’s not, then he must do everything he can to make sure any identifying information is left out and that she is shielded significantly.

    Without the presence of any pertinent information, though, I think he should let the reporter make the call.

  19. I agree with what other people have already said: Del Rocco should’ve been careful when she accepted Bailey’s friend request. However, Bailey can’t control Del Rocco’s decisions or Facebook precautions, and just because Del Rocco clicked “accept,” I don’t think that suddenly gives Bailey free reign to whatever information she then finds. Bailey is still responsible for being fair and transparent. Bailey’s readers are entitled to know who and how Bailey is getting her information from. Del Rocco is entitled to keeping her Facebook updates within a realm of people of her choosing: She might have chosen to accept Bailey’s friend request, but would she have accepted a friend request from every reader of The Independent? In addition to telling Del Rocco that she was a reporter, Bailey should have also asked if using Del Rocco’s posted information was okay with her.
    Social networking and journalism are both about communication first and foremost. This means they should be communicating with each other too. A lot of human connection is lost when there are no interviews, phone calls or even emails, not to mention the fact that sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow users to construct their identities anyway. It’s a very anonymous, depersonalized and often inaccurate approach to gathering information. So when journalists do decide to incorporate social networking sites into their work, I think it’s important for there to be as much communication with the person of the other side of the screen as possible.

  20. Audrey Moon says:

    This is an interesting conversation on how invasive the press should be when it comes to social networking, especially for me because I am such an active participant. I understand the ethical standpoint concerning privacy, but I also believe that once something is online, it is no longer the least bit private.

    The Internet is a fascinating and dangerous tool. It can be a prize or poison depending on who is in charge of material distribution. Take the most recent Duke sex scandal. A former student wrote a mock thesis detailing her sexual exploits and “data” while she was in her undergrad. The 42-page“dissertation” was e-mailed to only a few friends, but this viral distribution infected the entire Web in only a short matter of time.

    Part of me feels that what Del Rocco posted on her Facebook was for public domain, especially after she stayed “friends” with Bailey knowing she was a reporter. Had Bailey accessed the posts through a Firewall or more invasively, I think there would be an ethical dilemma.

    I have respect for Bass and his staff. I think it is important for journalists to maintain their fundamental principals and to keep the people at best interest, but how far do you go? By keeping Del Rocco’s privacy the Independent achieves a sensational story without editorializing or having inaccuracy, all while keeping non-injury in mind.

    Bottom line, when you post something online you must be able to take responsibility for your actions and words.

  21. Sydney Berry says:

    1. Bailey’s main responsibility is identifying herself as a reporter, which she did. However, I think the whole thing could have been remedied simply by asking Del Rocco if she could use the information. If Bailey’s reason for not asking was fear that Del Rocco would not allow her to use the Facebook posts, then it is clear that Bailey knows that perhaps she is ethically wrong to do so. It would be best to err on the side of caution.

    2. It’s a really tricky situation. On one hand, Bailey was not “de-friended” once Del Rocco found out she was a reporter. However, Del Rocco’s information is open only to Bailey–not the Independent. She keeps her Facebook private because she wants to allow only her friends to see it. Her friends, including Bailey, but not including the Independent. It’s really a tough call either way. Technology to this magnitude is recent and law hasn’t caught up to make limitations on what is okay to use and what isn’t.

  22. lynchmel says:

    I think Bailey’s responsibilities as a reporter/editor to Del Rocco are:
    – I think Bailey should let Del Rocco know all the consequences of making the information from her Facebook profile accessible to the public.
    – To make sure it is okay with Del Rocco to use the information (and say what information will be made public in the article) given on her Facebook profile.
    – Bailey should make sure the information is correct on Facebook and not an assumption.
    – If Del Rocco gives permission to Bailey, Bailey should make sure to mention in the article the information is from Facebook.

    Factors should Bass weigh to determine whether to run Del Rocco’s posts I think are:
    – How important is the information to the news story? Does the public really care and how can they benefit from this information?
    – Can the information shared on Facebook be found from another source besides Facebook that may be more reliable?
    – Is Del Rocco okay with Bass sharing this information with people who do not have access to Del Rocco’s profile?

  23. First, I need to say that there are chills running up and down my spine about the case, especially reading the stories. My mom told me about it when it happened, and re-visiting it is just as eerie and chilling as hearing it the first time.

    1. People are responsible for what they post on Facebook. Even with high privacy settings, it’s important to keep in mind that information is accessible, and there is always the chance of a breach. Del Rocco needed to keep that in mind with her posts–even though they were intended for her friends, that doesn’t mean they would stay that way. Furthermore, she also had responsibility for accepting the friend request from someone she didn’t know. She also chose to maintain that “friendship” after finding out that Bailey was a reporter. Although she declined an interview, she didn’t request that Bailey not use what she saw. Perhaps she never thought that what she said could end up in the news, but still–she didn’t say anything against it.

    One of the links in the case study (I don’t remember which one, but it was somewhere) talked about the shift in Facebook, and how people need to realize that it’s not as private as they think. With that in mind, I think they could have used Del Rocco’s comments, as long as it was done with careful purpose.

    I think not naming Del Rocco makes the use of information more acceptable, as it does not reflect on her reputation.

    Another thought…in a sense, Facebook has become the new phonebook. Like the rest of the public, reporters have access to people’s personal contact information in a good old-fashioned phonebook. And people can’t (or at least, shouldn’t) get upset when reporters use that resource. In an era of social media, social media has become an important way to establish connection and contact. (Funny…I just clicked on the next link, and it’s the one about digital doorstepping–page 11, citation 23–apparently, there is already some debate about this idea!)

    2. With all of the above being said, I also agree with their decision on not running the posts because of their environment. I think the debate applies to media as a whole, but especially to more localized, small-town media. I think the final decision would have to come down to weighing the benefits of harms of both sides, and deciding which option would better serve the people, and what type of effects the decision would have.

    Sigh…despite my long comments, I realize that I’m actually still wrestling with how I feel about this and what the best ethical decision would be. My gut and my head are a bit at odds…hopefully I’ll have a more clear idea by morning.

  24. sakitu says:

    1. It is Bailey’s responsibility to tell Del Rocco who she is and what she’s trying to do– which she did. After that, it is Del Rocco’s responsibility to decide how she will respond to Bailey’s requests. She denied Bailey’s request for an interview, but didn’t block or “unfriend” her. Now this is a gray area but, to me, keeping Bailey as a Facebook friend makes the information Del Rocco posts on her page fair game. If she were truly against Bailey knowing aspects of her personal life, Del Rocco should have instantly unfriended her (it’s what I would have done, but then again, I wouldn’t have friended a complete stranger in the first place). To me, this is Del Rocco saying “I don’t want to go on the record, but here is what I know.”

    2. Bass should decide what their paper has to gain (woohoo! major scoop) versus what they have to lose (invasion of privacy? lawsuit? hmm…). To avoid making a huge mistake, Bass and Bailey should have contacted Del Rocco one last time, seeking permission to use her posts. She denied Bailey an interview, but she didn’t unfriend her. This makes it seem likely that Del Rocco wants Bailey to know and use the information, she just doesn’t want her name attached. All Del Rocco would have to say is no, and then this problem would be solved…

  25. Kurt Woock says:

    The Internet is inherently an open source of information. Computer code can (attempt to) create barriers, but the flow of information is the central concept: not the exception. People who sign up for web-based services, such as online banking, do so with a risk. Facebook, unlike banking, is, inherently a place to share: privacy settings are a secondary function (or, a Chicago Bears analogy: even though the Bears do use passing plays, they are a running team). To put personal information online on such a site and expect complete privacy is a contradictory expectation; like eating a gallon of ice cream and then getting upset when you gain a few pounds, citing that although you ate the ice cream, you never ‘asked for the calories.’ We have access to potentially embarrassing things like court documents and high school yearbooks. Embarrassment is not interchangeable with invasion privacy.

    The journalists had every right to do what they did.

    But that’s examining the situation in a vacuum. In the context of reality, journalists have other things to worry about — things like reputations. Even if they are right in using Facebook, transparently or not, media runs the risk of becoming unpopular: which can have equally devastating effects. The debate, then, is not one of what is ethical, but what is respectable.

    And the response to that is the infamous, “it depends.”

  26. What are Bailey’s responsibilities to Del Rocco when reporting on her Facebook page?
    I think that here it is important to consider the “human side” of journalists, if you will. Although we are always bound to reporting the truth, we must consider how the truth will affect the subjects. If it will give negative attention to people in the story who are considered not-guilty then I think that this is something that journalists should try to avoid at all costs. I don’t think that Bailey has any certain responsibilities but I think that she must consider Del Rocco’s feelings on the subject (as she did).

    What factors should Bass weigh to determine whether to run Del Rocco’s posts?
    This is a tough call. Because although it is “public” it is also private. Del Rocco took down these walls of privacy when she accepted the friend request, but I don’t necessarily see that as permission to run all of the information on her page. Personally, I almost think that the news source should ask permission from Del Rocco before printing anything…

  27. Esten Hurtle says:

    What are Bailey’s responsibilities to Del Rocco when reporting on her Facebook page?

    Bailey has the responsibility to identify herself as a reporter, and not one of the many random acquaintances that hit the “friend” button on Facebook. I personally think that Bailey should give the opportunity to Del Rocco for an accuracy check, just like we do for quotes. Often, Facebook status updates are deliberately misleading for an intended effect, and we have the responsibility to our sources to make sure the reporting that we’re doing is honest. When writing the story, Bailey needs to be completely transparent about her process. Especially in new gray areas such as this, transparency is important for the reader to understand both the information itself and the reasoning behind using it. It also clarifies the ethical debate surrounding issues like this and helps us make clearer choices in the future.

    What factors should Bass weigh to determine whether to run Del Rocco’s posts?

    I think that, at the very least, Del Rocco needs to be informed that quotes from Facebook will be used in the story. Even if she objects to their usage and Bass runs it anyway, there will at least be some sort of understanding that these private-esque posts would be used. There needs to be an absolute understanding, put forward in the story, that the reporter was not misrepresenting herself. Misrepresentation is both unethical and a substantial violation of the terms and services of Facebook. If there is any chance of Del Rocco being harmed from this, previously relatively private, information becoming public, then there should be a significant debate before any publication of the posts. I personally think that the quotes should be omitted if harm were a real possibility.

  28. Chen Yao says:

    Ethics issue concerning social network is relatively new, so the public has not reached consensus on the basic norms, such as the definition of “friend” on facebook. The friend here is quite different from what we call friend in life, it could be a friend or someone want to check on your personal information . So, we don’t know why Del Rocco did not defriend Bailey, it could be that she considered Bailey not to be ill-intended since Bailey told her about her reason of friending her as a reporter instead of hiding her identity. However, I would still feel a littl betrayed if Bailey reporting without letting Del Rocco know. Since, though Del Rocco should be responsible for her post in facebook, she assumed her audience, or her range of responsibility within the friends lists instead of the readership if Identity.

    About the editor’s role. First, to check the accuracy of the information is really important, especially it’s a scoop. Then, I think not showing the name will not prevent the name from being known to the public, we all know how powerful the Internet is in searching and spreading information. However, at least, this showed the newspaper’s respect for its source’s privacy. That matters to both the sources and the readers.

  29. mmarkelz says:

    1. Bailey has the responsibility to not take Del Rocco’s posts out of context and to remain transparent. She should only use the posts or portions of posts that are relevant to the case and give the readers some context to interpret them. She also needs to explain that she got the information by requesting friend status and identifying herself. I don’t think there is much else she can do than explain to the audience the truth of the process, and allow readers to draw conclusions about Del Rocco and the suspect.

    2. Bass needs to consider how beneficial Del Rocco’s posts are and what they add to the story, or what the story lacks in their absence. Public forums, especially social media, tend to reduce people’s legitimacy, just by the culture of the sites. When you’re looking at txt-language and emoticons at the end of every sentence, it makes the material informal and it loses credibility. An episode of “This American Life”

    featured a case like this, where a Facebook post was taken out of context–the context being the informal realm of Facebook–and used it as a legitimate threat. Bass needs to consider if this type of thing will affect what is drawn from Del Rocco’s wall.

  30. dkoray says:

    I don’t think there is a straightforward answer when discussing Bailey’s responsibilities to Del Rocco since she wrote about her ex-boyfriend without prompting on her Facebook account. However, based on the policy of the NY Times at the time, the most important thing is to make sure that the information gathered from social media is in fact public information. I agree with most of the previous commenters that Bailey did at least the bare minimum by friending Del Rocco and later telling her that she was a journalist. If her other responsibility is to keep her out of harm’s way though, then Bailey has some important issues to think about. Even if she didn’t disclose Del Rocco’s identity, it would be blatantly obvious to someone like Raymond Clark, who could be a huge threat to her safety.

    Bass has to think of his relationship to the community in addition to the ethical dilemma of whether Facebook posts should be included in a news story. Based on the background provided about the New Haven Independent, I would agree with my classmates who think that Bass needed to protect Del Rocco more than an editor at the New York Times or a similarly large publication that wasn’t focused on the local community.

    It should be noted though that many media outlets regularly use the Twitter and Facebook status updates of athletes without necessarily friending or following them on those sites. This is particularly common when covering recruiting information for high school athletes, who have even less of a filter than college or pro athletes. Therefore, it seems as if the media has no qualms about using this kind of information for innocuous stories where the source’s reputation and safety aren’t threatened. I realize that the Independent probably doesn’t cover a ton of sports stories, especially related to recruiting, but many other outlets do. It seems to me that if the media isn’t running a relevant Facebook post for a more serious news story, it is based more out of fear (of litigation) than journalism standards.

  31. lizhartnett says:

    What are Bailey’s responsibilities to Del Rocco when reporting on her Facebook page?
    What factors should Bass weigh to determine whether to run Del Rocco’s posts?

    1. Bailey has a responsibility to make sure that Del Rocco isn’t harmed in anyway, but that’s just the standard, textbook answer. I agree with the sentiments of most everyone- Bailey had the right to use that information once Del Rocco accepted her friend request. We, as both journalists and college students, sometimes don’t realize how public Facebook really is. While we think that our status updates, personal information, and photos will be viewed by only the handful of people who actually participate with us online, we forget that all that information is available to HUNDREDS of people whom we all call “friends.” More people know more about us than we’re willing to admit and the scary part about that is “privacy” online doesn’t really exist anymore. In this case, Del Rocco probably should’ve exercised more caution, letting a random woman she didn’t know into her life, regardless if Bailey identified herself as a reporter or not.

    2. Bass should definitely remember to keep Del Rocco’s profile hidden, to make sure that her identity is hidden and, like Kelsey Kennedy said, provide context in this situation that shows that the information is a “Facebook update” rather than a quote, so as to avoid misquoting Del Rocco. But, to play devil’s advocate here, how exactly would the Independent frame this information? Would it be labeled “suspect’s ex-girlfriend”, which would then lead to her identity being revealed, or would it be labeled as ” a source linked to the suspect,” which would hide Del Rocco, but put the credibility of the paper at jeopardy? As public as the information on Facebook is, journalists need to use caution when it comes to gathering information and organizing its use. Is it really worth it to use the information from a social media site when your paper’s (and your own) credibility could be at risk?

    You be the judge.

  32. 1. Because as reporters we are still trying to determine the ethical guidelines about reporting on social media sites, I don’t know if there is a clear answer about Bailey’s responsibilities when it came to reporting on Del Rocco’s Facebook page. Clearly she should identify herself as a reporter, as she did, but I think Bailey should have done this before even requesting Del Rocco as a friend. Bailey herself said, “If I did the whole thing over again, I would identify myself  as  a  reporter  when  I  friended  her.” I also think it would be appropriate for Bailey not only to ask permission for an interview, but also if she could use the information on Del Rocco’s page. I agree with others that Bailey also has a responsibility to disclose Facebook as a source for this information to readers.
    2. Bass should consider the harm that could come to Del Rocco as a result of sharing this information. He should also keep in mind that the information Del Rocco posted on her Facebook page was intended for her friends only. However, Del Rocco did accept Bailey as a friend. I think this is why it is so complicated. If Del Rocco really did want this information to be disclosed only to her friends, she wouldn’t have posted it on a page that is viewable to anyone she confirms, which evidently isn’t always her friends since she confirmed Bailey as a friend when she did not even know her. Bass also must consider the accountability to the community that the Independent reporters felt. Bailey said in the study, “We’re here every 
    day and we need to build relationships with people and have them trust 
    us.” Would sharing this information compromise the relationships of trust they had built in their community? Would it make people question the paper’s ethics? Would it make them distrust reporters? Although the paper received national attention while covering this story, I think it’s important to remember that they are still a “grassroots community newspaper.”

  33. agetto says:

    1. I think this question has a more clear-cut answer than the second. Del Rocco was posting her thoughts and feelings on a public networking site that was obviously meant for others to read. Although it was set to “friend only” privacy, the fact that she accepted Bailey as a friend without regard for her own privacy against the random person who requested her. This is her own fault. The answer would be less clear cut had Bailey not admitted to being a reporter, and had Del Rocco not kept her as a friend. If she had disaffiliated herself with the reporter once she discovered Bailey’s identity, the ethical dilemma would be heightened, but her information remained open. Morally, I think Bailey did the right thing by not using her name, but I do believe the information provided was completely fair game. While I believe it was ethically alright, the problem with publishing the information is more of a moral dilemma.

    2. Bass should weigh several factors before posting the information. The most important is that if Del Rocco is to be put at risk having her identity discovered, both physically and emotionally. The problem with posting the information is that it is very person-specific, and if her ex-boyfriend–Le’s killer–were to find out, or even his family, it could cause serious repercussions. Also, he should weigh the credibility, and what kind of credibility it will bring to (or take from) the paper. This information is all incredibly biased; she could be saying things because she is hurt or for a number of other reasons. The “facts” posted on Del Rocco’s personal facebook page need to be checked incredibly carefully before publishing; this means delving into her past as well as her ex-boyfriend’s past and Le’s past.

    Overall, facebook is a tough subject matter, because in a case like this it could be an incredibly helpful or hurtful source for credibility. It could open up a can of worms regarding information unknown by family members, and could easily and change the spin on a story. On the other hand, it is incredibly fast, convenient, and informative. This post gives us reason to stay private, and secretly hope that others remain public.

  34. Tony Flesor says:

    1. Bailey’s responsibilties to Del Rocco is to protect her identity, regardless of the decision to use the information or not. As mentioned at the end of the case study, Del Rocco is not a suspect. She is tangled up with a suspect and so she has no business being in the spotlight. It is dangerous to her and it could have very serious fallout on her life. She’s just a regular person with information. And ultimately…

    2…. From an ethical perspective, I don’t think Bailey should run the posts. Realistically, I would do it, but from an enlightened hypothetical situation, running Del Roccos semi-private friends-only Facebook posts is no different from going undercover and reporting what someone tells you. Del Rocco friended Bailey, but most likely just with the same reaction most people have on Facebook. She probably didn’t know who Bailey was, but didn’t want to be rude, so she clicked “agree” and didn’t think too much of it. Bailey was in a priveleged position and Del Rocco had no idea what was going on. There are arguments that undercover reporting is okay, especially in situations with highly privileged information, but it is a very questionable area. Bailey reporting Del Rocco’s posts is taking advantage and may work out for Bailey, but would probably hurt journalism in the long run for the same reason mentioned about the Virginia Tech shootings. It’s seen as predatory and cold. Don’t use someone for a story. If you have to run the posts, do it by getting them in a legit way, either through an interview with Del Rocco or someone else that knows they are talking to a reporter.

  35. 1. Bailey’s main responsibility to Del Rocco is to protect her, which I think she is doing by concealing her identity. I also think it’s Bailey’s responsibility to tell Del Rocco that she is going to use her statuses before doing so – that may even lead to a conversation and possibly more information. Transparency is key in this situation on Bailey’s part.
    2. First, make sure that the posts will not cause any type of irreparable harm to Del Rocco or anyone involved. Make sure that the statuses are factual – I’m not exactly sure how you go about doing that – but if it’s possible, I would talk to Del Rocco. Also, make sure that the posts add value to the story. Don’t just run them to run them – make sure they’re necessary.

  36. Eric Holmberg says:

    1) Bailey does the right thing in identifying herself as a reporter. And the tacit approval by Del Rocco of remaining friends after Bailey did so was a possible green-light. She identified herself, but responsibility doesn’t end there. Del Rocco didn’t want to be interviewed, so if Bailey would ask if she could use the Facebook updates, the answer would probably be no. So if you don’t like the answer to a question, why would you go ahead and ask it? She has a responsibility to protect her identity and the private way most of us use Facebook. It’s never meant for public consumption, it’s meant for people we know, or knew. I think if Bailey couldn’t ask to use the updates, then she shouldn’t use them.
    2) In a story like this, Bass needs to weigh how important Del Rocco is to the story (and that’s why this is so hard, because she’s very important to the story). If this wasn’t Clark’s first violent outburst, that’s important, really important. They should try as hard as they can to explain to Del Rocco why they need to tell her story and how only a local site can safely protect her identity. Ultimately, the site serves its readers, ones that may appreciate their high standards. I think it would only be in keeping with their tradition to hold on this as long as possible and get more cooperation from Del Rocco.

  37. Well, the easy part about what Bailey should have done is what she did in the first place, which was to let Del Rocco know that she was a reporter. From there I think it’s all fair game. Once you tell someone you’re a reporter, unless the subject explicitly states “this is off the record” they should understand that you’re not chatting them up for your health.

    I do understand, however, that it’s sticky territory. Del Rocco probably had too much on her mind than wondering about the national reactions to a wall post she intended for her couple hundred friends. However, she did “quickly” accept Bailey, a complete stranger, as a friend, and did not remover her. If I were Bailey, my inner devil would be arguing “I think she secretly wants this to come out.”

    I’m not sure if that defense would hold up any better than a “her words said no but her kiss said yes” argument, but I’d probably use it to get me to sleep at night and run the quotes anyway. I think that in this new social media arena, until there are explicitly stated guidelines or a drawn-out code of ethics, we are bound to make a lot of mistakes. Unless you believe that the harm truly outweighs the gravity of the story, I would likely err on the side of a great scoop.

  38. Waqas says:

    1. Bailey’s primary responsibility was to identify herself as a reporter, which she did eventually. By not removing Bailey from her friends’ list, Del Rocco granted Bailey access to her private information. Bailey could have informed Del Rocco that she would be using her facebook status updates in a story and assured her that her identity would be kept secret. I think Bailey didn’t do that because she felt she might be denied the information she had by Del Rocco. This suggests that Bailey knew it was a tricky situation. Another responsibility on her part was to protect the identity of Del Rocco because she wasn’t involved in the crime.

    2. Well, the editor has to determine if the addition of Del Rocco’s wall posts add something to the story. He also has to make a decision about whether the access to information in this particular case means he can use the information in an article or not. His previous experience with the Vlad Voinov case might help him in determining this. Other than that, the editor should consider how running the story with Del Rocco’s wall posts might affect the reputation of his website and the trust relations with the community.

  39. 1. A lot of care needs to be given before taking off with using this information. Personally I believe that I would speak with Del Rocco and ask her if I could use the information because it is paramount to understanding the human element of the story. If the Independent was receiving threats I believe that it would be top priority in protecting this subject. I believe that Del Rocco needed to screen her friends list, but using any form of “trickery” to access information is too underhanded for me. Del Rocco was going through a traumatic experience, did she understand that by not removing the journalist from her friends list she was compromising all of her personal secrets?

    2. What are the costs? If you print this information at what point is the story and the bit of added information worth potential injury to someone.
    What would that do for the website? If you go behind someone’s back and use information they did not agree to give, unless it is a highly public figure, will that destroy the trust of your future sources?

  40. kebedefaith says:

    1) Bailey I think needs to ask Del Rocco if she can use the information. Del Rocco is a part of Clark’s past but they have a police report to show for that already. I would continue to message Del Rocco, explaining why I wanted to do the story, then she might want to go public for her own good and the good of the investigation (if in fact this information will move the investigation forward).
    2) How do we define consent? The article mentioned she kept her as a friend even after Bailey identified herself, but she also declined to be interviewed.
    Which posts actually further the case? The police report about Del Rocco gave some context to the suspect, but will her facebook posts about her emotional response to the current situation beneficially inform the story? She doesn’t seem to have any ties with him now.

    I agree with Butterworth from the Guardian when he/she said privacy is about intrusion rather than secrecy. We have to be extremely careful about this so-called “digital doorstepping” because this generation is setting a precedent. We have to be forward thinking in setting up the stage.

  41. maryals says:

    1. What are Bailey’s responsibilities to Del Rocco when reporting on her Facebook page? I think her first responsibility is to reveal herself as a reporter. I agree that she should have done that at the very beginning when she requested to be her friend, but better late then never, I guess. It’s worth mentioning that Del Rocco didn’t “de-friend” Bailey after she did so. She also has an obligation to protect Del Rocco’s ID. This has been said over and over throughout the comments, but because Del Rocco isn’t a suspect she shouldn’t be put in the spotlight. She is just unfortunate enough to be mixed up with this guy.

    2. What factors should Bass weigh to determine whether to run Del Rocco’s posts?
    She should consider how she got the info…was what she did honest? To request to be her friend and not reveal herself as a reporter? But then again Del Rocco accepted her request, so Bailey cannot be completely to blame. I think she also has to consider how much these posts by Del Rocco will advance the story. Is there really any new information being given that tells the public what happened? It kind of sounds like Del Rocco doesn’t know for sure whether or not her ex-boyfriend was the murderer, but that she has just heard he is a suspect. Sure the posts are interesting, I know i would want to read them if I was looking for information on the story, but is it worth exposing Del Rocco? Maybe she should just reveal her as “an old girlfriend of the suspect,” instead of by name.

    Definitely an interesting topic of conversation. Because of the popularity of social networking sites like Facebook, I think journalists should be able to use information found on the sites, as long as they obtained the information honestly and with full disclosure. There is also something to be said for double checking the context of what was said…most people on sites like Facebook post things to stay in touch with friends, so they assume that friends will be the only ones reading it. There is a context left out an journalists have a responsibility to the person and the public to clarify what they meant.

  42. Dustin says:

    You’d think someone in Del Rocco’s position would be a little more careful about what info she shares on FB and with whom she shares that info. But I thought it was interesting that Bailey made the point to say the newspaper was not there to just fly in, do the story, and leave. Stuff like this matters to them.

    1. I’m okay with Bailey identifying herself as a reporter after she was a “friend.” The fact that Del Rocco allowed her to stay on was important, but as it’s been pointed out, access to information isn’t necessarily equal to a right of publication.

    As Butterworth said, a guiding principle seems to be the expectation of privacy, a phrase that filters into First Amendment court cases. That’s a blurred line as well: maybe some members of the memorial groups discussed want their posts to be public, while others intend only to communicate with friends. Obviously, creating an alternate FB persona to gain information is way, way over the ethical line.

    2. Bass has a responsibility to his readers to continue to provide thoughtful, in-depth coverage of a local story. He has to balance that with a potential for harm to Del Rocco by revealing her identity on a national stage. My first thought here is, “Why not just ask her?” Maybe she’ll say she has no problem being quoted, or better yet, she might allow a full interview.

    If not, Bass moves on from there, and has to evaluate how substantial a shield he can actually execute given the media attention to what his paper publishes.

  43. Nick Schnelle says:

    Presented with these new ethical guidelines on how to report using public and private information from social networking sites, Bailey first had to keep in mind the ethical principles used pre-Facebook Age. That being to “weigh the news value of a story relative to the potential harm to sources and subjects.” Bailey also had the responsibility of deciding whether or not there was reasonable expectation that Del Rocco’s Facebook posts where actually private. Bailey had to keep in mind the “digital doorstepping” precedent set by the use of social networking information after the Virginia Tech shooting. In addition, the Independent had to make sure it didn’t get caught up in the “juicy story” like it did with the Vlad Voinov story meaning that “just because information was accessible online didn’t necessarily make it usable in a news article.” Ultimately it comes down to violating the privacy of an unnamed person. Was Bailey invading the privacy of Del Rocco even though Del Rocco kept Bailey as a Facebook friend even after revealing he was a reporter? Does it all come down to whether or not Bailey was deemed a “frenemy” or not?

  44. Walker Moskop says:

    I’d say Bailey’s responsibilities to Del Rocco are to be transparent and to protect her identity. If Bailey publishes the statuses, she shouldn’t release Del Rocco’s identity since she isn’t a suspect and previously declined to be interviewed – indicating she wanted to stay out of the media circus. However, though her facebook settings and interview refusal indicated that Del Rocco desires a certain level of privacy, she was aware that a reporter was one of her friends and that hundreds of her “friends” could see her statuses. She probably wouldn’t want her statuses published, but she’s dreaming if she expects that information to stay private. If I were in Bailey’s situation, I probably would only publish Del Rocco’s statuses if I could get her permission. At sleeziest, I would at least tell her beforehand that I was going to publish them (regardless of her consent) and wouldn’t run her name, regardless of her consent.

    Bass should consider how much of an addition the statuses would be to the story. Are they merely another trivial, interesting layer, or do they provide great insight not discovered yet? Is it heavy enough to expose (semi)private details of a person not involved in the murder?

    He also must decide whether or not to publish Del Rocco’s name, as well as whether her somewhat limited settings constitute a right to privacy. Del Rocco is publicly publishing information that many people would probably keep secret, and I would thus argue that is no longer private. However, I’m simply unsure if consent should be required in this case.

  45. Regina Wang says:

    1) When contacting Del Rocco via Facebook, Bailey should have disclosed the fact that she worked for a newspaper — something that Bailey later said that she wished she had done. Bailey also needed to verify the information she found on Del Rocco’s Facebook page. Just because the information she found was on Del Rocco’s personal profile, it doesn’t mean all the information there is true.

    2) Factors such as verifying information is important. I think Bailey has the right to use any information Del Rocco put on her Facebook. If Del Rocco didn’t want to be quoted with the information on her own page, she should’ve been careful about what she put there in the first place. An assistant to the attorney general used his blog to attack a gay student president at the University of Michigan. The attacker later claimed that he could say anything he wanted on his personal blog. I think he lost the right to his blog contents once the public has access to it, though.

  46. zhangyiqian says:

    1. Bailey did the right thing by identifying herself as a reporter. But I do not think Del Rocco friending her and keeping her as a friend after declining her for the interview is a sign that she can just go through her facebook posts and use them to write up news. I think a journalist should be very careful and stick with the safest way to report; and I think it’s an ethical thing to do to obtain the source’s consent before you publish any information about them. If she didn’t want to be interviewed, it was indication enough that she doesn’t want to be public. Besides, her facebook updates can only be seen after you friend her, so it’s not public in any way.

    2. I think it’s important to verify your information, and not cause harm to anyone. I’d hate to think of journalists as nosy writers poking around people’s privacy and trying to find things interesting to satisfy the public’s curiosity. We present what’s true to the public that they ought to know. If she can’t get that information from Del Rocco, then get it somewhere else.

  47. Aimee Gutshall says:

    1. What are Bailey’s responsibilities to Del Rocco when reporting on her Facebook page? As a journalist, Bailey’s responsibility to her readers and sources is: transparency. Bailey was right on identifying herself as a reporter but I feel like the real question here is if new stations should allow reporters to “friend” sources? Is this crossing over into tricky territory?

    2. What factors should Bass weigh to determine whether to run Del Rocco’s posts? I think first and foremost, Bass needs to really think whether or not the facebook status’s add REAL context and purpose to the story or is she just running it because reaffirms her frame of the story? I also believe that that if Bailey is even questioning whether or not to do it, then she should either talk to Del Rocco and get permission or NOT run it. I feel like this is a simple question. It is one thing to be someone’s “friend” on facebook and see their information. It is another thing to report it.

    Bottom line: Be transparent.

  48. Caitlin Miller says:

    1. I think that with social media websites we are all making ourselves vulnerable to the public. Anyone can see anything. In this case Del Rocco accepted a friend request from someone she didn’t immediately know. This is always risky. I think it becomes Del Rocco’s responsibility to monitor her words and actions in cyber space, especially after Bailey identified herself as a reporter. To me that places more responsibility on Del Rocco in monitoring her Facebook, or to not be shocked or upset if something form it is published. That doesn’t mean that I think that gathering information from Facebook is necessarily the way to go for a reporter though. I’m still up in air about this one.

    2. As an editor, I see the point that Bass needed to be faithful to his audience and provide them with the information he has available. It is always the job of journalists to provide information to the readers so that they may see and understand the full story. However, I think it is risky to use sources like Facebook and other social media networks. I think you run the risk of misinterpreting something or taking it out of context. I am not 100% sure that using information on Facebook is ethical. It doesn’t necessarily seem right to me to use information that you find on Facebook, although I suppose if people put it out there, we can’t be expected to ignore it. One can think of it as doing research in a way. That’s what I’m assuming Bass and Bailey were thinking as well.

  49. EmokeBebiak says:

    1. I think Bailey’s responsibilities to Del Rocco are not naming her and not using comments that are very personal or opinionated, because those comments are meant to be read by her friends. She probably didn’t write those comments directing them at Del Rocco. Of course, this brings up the question what is too personal or opinionated? To be honest, I don’t think that Del Rocco’s decision not to delete Bailey doesn’t mean that she agrees to the reporter using her comments. Why would Del Rocco need to take action to protect her privacy? I think Bailey should ask for her permission to use those comments.

    2. Bass should concentrate on protecting Del Rocco in the first place. Her comments are juicy for sure, but are they that newsworthy? I don’t think it’s worth hurting Del Rocco, so I’d use extreme caution when using any of the comments. Also, how can one clarify a person’s identity on Facebook? How can Bass know that the person signed up as Del Rocco really is Del Rocco?

  50. alecialass says:

    1. I feel like Bailey did a really good job. She was honest with Del Rocco that she was a reporter and didn’t take advantage of the fact that Del Rocco kept her as a friend. I think that by not reporting Del Roccos name, Bailey was trying to sustain the trust between them which is great. I would just make sure that consent is given when wanting to use ‘status updates’ in the story.

    2. I think that Bass should definitely be cautious when using these posts and making sure that they are actually helping out the story, not just thrown in because they have it. Also, think about how Del Rocco kept Bailey as a friend, so she is trusting the news source; don’t make her regret her choice of keeping a reporter as a ‘friend.’

  51. Johanna Somers says:

    I am sticking with my opinion that Bailey should have told De Rocco that she was a reporter from the beginning. In my opinion there is nothing private about Facebook but in order to be an accurate reporter, the reporter needs to interact with the source, in order to put the information into context and be sure they understand what the source is saying.

    Bass should have weighed the value of Facebook wall posts as a source. I agree that Facebook posts could help a reporter by leading him/her to another idea or source, but is not a strong source. It could be a strong source if the reporter actually interviews the actual Facebook person. Therefore, the editor should have asked Bailey to go further and talk to the Facebook person or they should not have used the Facebook posts.

  52. allisonmseibel says:

    What are Bailey’s responsibilities to Del Rocco when reporting on her Facebook page?
    What factors should Bass weigh to determine whether to run Del Rocco’s posts?

    1. Bailey’s responsibility is to be as transparent as possible, as a journalist. I don’t think that she was when she friend requested Del Rocco. Maybe she just forgot to do this, or maybe she didn’t because it was more likely that Del Rocco would accept the friend request if she didn’t know she was a reporter. I don’t know what her reason was for not identifying herself, but I don’t think that was very transparent. Then again, she eventually did identify herself and Del Rocco did not remove her from her friends list. I don’t think that this automatically gives Bailey the permission to use information from her Facebook. Like someone said in class, she could’ve thought that she just declined the interview and her involvement was over and done with – she may have had no idea that they would use something from her Facebook. So I do think that she needs to give permission for the Independent to use her words from her page. I don’t think that this may necessarily be the case with every social media issue or question that pops up in journalism. I know that I would not feel comfortable in the slightest as a reporter, taking quotes essentially from her without her knowledge. I also would not be comfortable friending her without her knowing that I’m a reporter. It feels like false pretenses.

    2. There are a few factors Bass should weigh when deciding to use Del Rocco’s posts or not. First, do these posts have value? From reading them, I’m not sure they do. They don’t really add anything to the story at all. She said she was shocked and it reminded her of high school. Of course she would be frightened that her ex-boyfriend did that. That’s not going to add very much to the story. But for example, with the recent tragic event of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi committing suicide, most media outlets used a post from his Facebook profile that was posted right before he committed suicide saying “jumping off the gw bridge, sorry.” That DEFINITELY added to the stories about him and had much more value than the posts mentioned in this case study. The second thing Bass would have to consider is if it is ethical to run her posts without her knowledge and if they should run her name if they do use it (really what this entire discussion is about.) The Independent cited a case that happened earlier, where a professor was accused of murdering a student. That professor was never tried, but from running his name in all of these different stories – his life was ruined. I think that because of things like this it would be important to not run someone’s name so they aren’t implicated or wrongly made to look involved. Del Rocco really had no connection with this case other than the fact that she was his ex-girlfriend. I would not want to get involved for no reason if I was her.

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