Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Gossip Mongering or Good Journalism?

RUMORS HAVE FLOATED for months that GOP VP nominee Sarah Palin is not the mother of the 4-month old she claims as her own. Some have speculated that Palin's 17-year old daughter (above, right) is the real mother.

What do you do with that rumor? Do you investigate it as a journalist?

The folks up in Alaska didn't touch it:

“I heard that rumor a long time ago,” said Pat Forgey, political reporter for the Juneau Empire, a few hours after Palin’s statement that her daughter was five months pregnant. “I probably would not have wasted any time on it.”

Is that irresponsible? Palin may become the number two person in American government. Shouldn't the media investigate if she is covering something up?

Or are families off limits, as Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama said?

What would you do?

24 comments:

Lo_le_tah said...

I think this goes back to the bill clinton sex scandal. Does a persons indescresion really discredit them as a leader. And like thatscandla i think that this is exploitation of people.

The Matthewdelphia Media said...

Even if the media investigated it and did all their research, there would be someone who claimed to know the 'truth' on the issue and rebuttal it. Some things if you can't get to the truth, and you can't ask the source yourself, I think it should just be ignored.

danielassaraf said...

This does not directly relate to any issue, so I think it is wise for Obama to not discuss it, especially in keeping with some of the themes of his campaign. However, for the press, I believe it is fair game. The fact that her daughter is five month's pregnant relates to the issue of abortion, because her daughter is 17, so this gives her some real cred with the Christian Right. Journalists have the right to question whether a baby-making machine with a big family, an infant some with downs syndrome and pretty soon a grandchild of the same age from a 17 year old daughter will be able to commit to the job of being a vice president. It would be ironic for Palin's supporters to criticize that her family is an issue with the media-her willingness to crank out those babies makes her appealing to the Evangelicals, and that's basically the only reason she was chosen! Bottom line: fair game.

jenmerrill said...

The media has a right to dig further. If the story fit together nicely, there would be no rumor. But it doesn't. Have you SEEN pictures of Sarah Palin at "7 months?" There's NOTHING there. Oh, and her daughter had just happened to be out of school for a few months. However, the most disturbing fact is that in Texas, her water broke (even if it was "just a leak") yet she gave a speech before flying back to Alaska to give birth to a child she KNEW already had medical problems. How dangerous. That's eitiher careless stupidity, or a lie, and either way, that's not someone I want running the country. This IS relevent information considering Palin's strong views on women's rights and sex education. Her daughter has proved that only teaching abstinence is a poor plan. I do agree that Obama should certainly steer clear of the drama though.

NPorter said...

I know that there is certainly a degree to which a leader's personal life impacts and reflects their ability to lead. However, this particular personal issue can only by a stretch be construed as something that would seriously indicate Palin's ability to be an effective leader. If it is true that the baby is actually Palin's daughter's can we really blame Palin for wanting to shield her seventeen year old daughter from the pain and embarrassment that would be brought on by exposure to the media? Any teenager can get pregnant, but not every teenager who gets pregnant has a parent who places them in the national lime light. I think this very personal issue is completely irrelevant and the media has overstepped its boundaries and is creating some pretty purely sensational journalism by continuing to cover this.

Alexa Ewton said...

This kind of gossip is what leads me personally to not believe fully in politics anymore. This is in alot of ways not about whether the nominees poilicies are good, but rather what kind of gossip we can bring up about them. This is what happened when Obama and Hilary were running against each other. It became a who can dig up more about who contest. Lets stop worrying about whose baby it is and start figuring out whether McCain and Palin would be a good team to lead this country.

donnie d said...

I love checking the old blog, you pick up some interesting stories.

Is it a story? Yes. People want to know how a candidate manages their home-life despite what Obama says.

Is it relevant? Yes. This is a real-world test of her absitinence and sex education stance.

Is it timely? Yes. There are new details being released constantly defining the timeline of the original birth and Bristol's current one.

Does it sell? YES. SEX SELLS. More than anything I think this is what will drive the story, despite the other legitimate journalistic interest.

I dont care what anybody says, I demand to know as much as I can about my candidates. I will never meet them in person in a one-on-one chat to determine the kind of person they are so I demand investigative journalism into their lives. I want to know precisely what I'm gettin into. There's no need to attack SP parenting or Bristol's judgement. Let the facts speak for themselves, but please, PRESENT THE FACTS!!!

J1111 veteran

Megan McCue Journalism said...

I think that the family should not be such a major discussion, rather her qualifications as vice president and what she will do for our country. You can't choose your family or what is dealt to you, only how you handle it. That she is supporting her pregnant seventeen year old daughter shows good character. The only reason it would be important to see if she was lying about having an infant is because we don't want someone who is dishonest in any way to hold such high power.

I could see many politicians covering up any flaws in their family life before it harmed their personal campaign-- no matter what was best for the family.

arielleklinetsky said...

I feel that information regarding the families of the candidates should remain confidential. The family members of which ever candidate it may be are not running for president or vice president. I feel the media should focus solely on the candidate, and the candidate only. The candidate can only control their surroundings and people around them to an extent, after that its up to that person and no one else.

AshleyKormos said...

People have a right to know what's actually going on. It may or may not affect the outcome of the election, but the American people should be properly informed before they make a desicion. As a journalist it should be their job to require all the information they can about their subject, because if it actually isn't her child... guess what she just lied to the public and they deserve to know that. If she didn't... no big deal you squashed a rumor. Either way in the media business you have a story people will want to read about.

summergirl said...

I think that citizens have the right to know more about this issue. Yes, it's her family and you could say it should be left confidential, but this could change how people think of her, especially if it's found out that she lied. If McCain is elected, this women is going to be helping to lead our country and I think we should know as much as possible about the candidates.

ben said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mikemaiden27 said...

Although I believe that your personal life has nothing to do with your ability to lead, I know that something like this changes everything in an election, so it should be investigated.

Geo said...

What if it was you the media was probing, or your parents, or your friends? Would you be upset that they were digging in these usually private matters?

- George (the teacher)

michele aweeky said...

you said in class that being a journalist is about speculation. maybe this sounds crazy, but what if palin was setting this entire thing up just to appeal to some of the opposing democratic voters, exposing a weaker, less robotic side of her life. now, i know this is probably not the reason that this entire scandal is slapping every news consumer in the face, but i'm trying to prove the point that a journalist should always try to find a story in every situation. Yes, there's a point where a writer can go too far as to make up something that doesn't exist, but they should never ignore a prime opportunity to jump in and let the world in on something that could seriously change the way they see everything.

kirsten stamn said...

I think there is a difference between investigating a possible story that could have a greater impact on society and being aggressive just to get (or make up) a scandal story that sells well. If Sarah Palin's daughter did have that child (which I think would be impossible considering how she is currently pregnant...), it would be a huge red flag for Palin herself and might ultimately decide the upcoming presidential election. But I also think that it's unfair to harass family members if there is no cause to investigate them.

summergirl said...

If it was me the media was investigating, of course I'd be upset. But I think that's a reality of running for such a high office. She would be making decisions that affect the whole country and citizens deserve to know about her life.

omc215 said...

I feel that all news should be covered and since Sarah Palin is in the news right now, she deserves a story no matter what it is. In this case, there are two sides to the story that the public has to think about and needs to know. On one hand, people could view her as a mother trying to protect her child from scandal, which could make the public view Palin as a politician who is a regular citizen who would do anything for her family. On the other hand, this scandal could show Palin as someone who hides the truth rather than dealing with it at present. This means that if she is elected to office, theres always a chance that she could be covering something up because she has done it before, therefore, she could be seen as a liar and untrustworthy in the eyes of American citizens.

Jessica Lista said...

i feel like we need to start worrying more on who is more qualified to lead our country than worrying about such gossip. Who cares if her daughter is pregnant. If she is able to lead our country then that is what we should be focusing on.

mattyost said...

This story should be investigated. Sarah Palin's integrity and character is at question here and her honesty my play a decisive role for many people when election time roles around.

Geo said...

It should be investigated? OK.

Should the rumor be published or should reporters wait to either disprove or validate the story before they print or air it?

- George (the teacher)

summergirl said...

Hmmmm good question. I think reporters should wait until they know something for certain. Because right now, even if it's proven that all of what she's saying is legit, people are still going to associate her with negative things because of all the rumors.

Cara said...

The problem though with reporters waiting to receive more accurate information on the story, is that they are leaving that time open for other news reporters to publish the story. Unfortunately, I don't think reporters have the luxury of waiting to get what they think is the "true" story. In the end, what really is the truth? The truth, or the closest version of the truth, only really is the combination of perspectives from many different people. As a reporter, obviously it is your duty and job to deliver the truth to the people, but it's also your job to get the most and reliable information to the public. A story like this was too competitive to just wait out. I think as a reporter, it's not your responsibility of whether or not people are going to negatively perceive the subject of your story. Everyone will always perceive what they want to perceive. Yes, I think idealistically it would have been smart to wait and get a more accurate truth to this story, but I don't think as a reporter you have the time to wait. The business is too competitive.

Anonymous said...

Let it go...
If she is covering something up... she may not be doing it for herself, perhaps she is looking out for the best interest of another. I think family lives should be left alone.

Nikki Allen (Jour1111)