Friday, September 3, 2010

Is the Candidate's Kid Public Fodder (And Are Journalists Allowed to Publish facebook Images)?

THE SON OF a state representative/ gubernatorial candidate in Minnesota was busted for underage drinking - while on the payroll of his father's campaign.

An alternative weekly newspaper broke the story and used old facebook pictures (above) of the 20-year old.

This is a two-part ethical dilemma:

1). Is the kid newsworthy? Just because his father is involved in politics and is a candidate to become governor, should the son also be considered fodder for the news media?

2). Is it acceptable for the media to publish images from facebook?

23 comments:

Erik Lexie said...

Is it worth knowing about? Maybe not, but I think it could be entirely worth knowing how the kid's dad responds, if at all. It could certainly be important to people in Minnesota.

As far as Facebook pictures go, my view is if it's on the internet without copyright notice, it's fair game. Regardless of what you think about the ethics of it, there is absolutely no way to enforce anything else. The pictures are just too widely available. I suspect that, when generations who started using facebook when they were ten years old are in power, this won't even be an issue. It will be assumed that if you put a picture up or write something on facebook, it could appear anywhere.

Janita Styles said...

Is it newsworthy... Unfortunately yes. My mother always told me to be careful about how we (kids) presented ourselves because we are a direct reflection of them. This is a perfect example of that. This kid learned the hard way that whatever he does is going into a smear campaign against his father.

Facebook photos are open game. If you upload a picture to your profile you are saying that this picture is viewable. Don't put anything on the internet that you don't want to come back to you.

This kid should have used smarter judgment knowing that his father is a politician.

Jonathan said...

I totally agree with Janita.

Also, if you are stupid enough to post pictures of yourself drinking while underage, you deserve to get caught.

And it's been noted that he was on the payroll of his father's campaign; thus, it's news. The fact that he's the candidate's son only makes it more newsworthy. Even removing that relationship, you still have the potential headline "Candidate's underage employees caught drinking while on payroll."

Kid was in a public arena. Kid was stupid. Kid got caught.

Matthew Albasi said...

"Kid was in a public arena. Kid was stupid. Kid got caught."

I don't think i could say it any better Jonathan.

Putting something on a publicly accessible internet site is just stupid. A for whether or not the media can use them, i don't see why not. If you're picture is taken on the street it is usable, ethically and legally. So assuming it was credited right i can't really find a problem with it.

As for underage drinking I don't see it as a story. The fact that he was getting paid to drink (something i've dreamed of) is a different thing all together. However, the idea that we are a reflection of our parents doesn't sit well with me. I know people who have wonderful, caring, loving, supportive parents who drank underage. And i know people who come from parents with meth addictions, who don't drink at all.

To say that underage drinking is indicative of poor parenting simply isn't true. Too many factors go into deciding whether or not to drink. Sure, one of them is the way you're parents taught you to view alcohol; but another is how you have decided to view alcohol. We have a choice, don't blame it on the parents.

Paki said...

In a perfect world, the families of political candidates would have the same privacy as everyone else. You'll notice that the issue here isn't underage drinking, it's the fact that the minor is the son of a man running for governor. No one seems to care about the other kids in the pictures. This isn't newsworthy. The 20 year old son of a political candidate is still just a 20 year old college kid. He shouldn't be held to any other standard, regardless of his parents.

As for the second question, I don't think the media should publish such pictures. Unfortunately, they do, so it's not worth crying about. Knowing that, this kid should have thought ahead and put better privacy settings on his facebook account or just not gotten in the pictures at all. I have my facebook set up so that only my friends can see my pictures and pictures of me tagged by others. On top of that, I don't even use my real name for my facebook account. I rarely do anything online using my real name. Just in case.

Erik Lexie said...

This kid does have the same privacy as anyone else.

How many times, before this news story, have you heard of this kid? In fact, it suddenly occurred to me as I was writing this comment that I don't even know his first name! All I know is he is the kid of some guy running for office in Minnesota.

This kid could have set his Facebook to the same privacy settings that you do, Paki. But now that I'm looking back again, I'm also noticing that this post doesn't even say these pictures are from the event in question. It says "old Facebook pictures." They are of the guy drinking, but this just compounds the issue. It suggests he made pictures of himself drinking public, and then, later, decided to go one step further and drink while on his dad's campaign payroll.

I don't think there's any issue over privacy here. People who are arrested are always made a public example of. This guy happens to be the son of a politician, so he might get a bit more attention, but should that change the procedure for responding to his actions?

Monica Miller said...

Underage drinking is not newsworthy. It happens and everyone is aware. However, when the son of a campaigning politician is caught drinking illegally, it does, unfortunately, become news. How children act is a result of how their parents raise them. Citizens want to know how their politicians conduct their family lives because leadership at home can correlate to the leadership of a state.

As for whether or not the media should publish photos from Facebook, I think it's fair game. While everyone deserves their privacy, if someone uploads a picture of themselves to the internet, they give up their rights to that image. People should know very well that pictures on the internet are only as private as they make them which is clearly stated in the "Terms of Service" that Facebook makes everyone agree to but nobody ever
actually reads.

As a son of political figure, he should have expected a picture of him drinking would come back to haunt him and potentially his fathers chances at becoming governor.

Alexis Wright-Whitley said...

I don't believe that this is necessarily newsworthy. Of course, the kid should have thought about what he was doing before he did because his father is a politician, but it doesn't mean that this is really important. People can try to raise their kids in a "perfect, wholesome" way, but at the end of the day, the kids can pretty much do whatever they want. What this kid did should have no effect on how well his father is as a politician.

As far as media publishing the images go, it is totally acceptable. Everyone knows that things that they post on Facebook are not totally private, even if they try to make it private. If something such as a picture or post or status is displayed without any type of privacy enabled, the content is pretty much fair game.

Because the kid is underage, he should have really thought long and hard before posting the picture. He was stupid and got caught. That's pretty much all that can be said about that.

Nia Prater said...

In my personal opinion, a teenager drinking isn't particularly newsworthy. But he isn't just some no-named kid. His father's very well-known, campaigning to become governor. It's probably an attempt by the opposing side to use the "Well, he can't manage his own household. How can we expect him to run our state?" argument. So, it's no surprise that given this chance to ruin the father's reputation, the media's jumping at it.

But in regards to whether the images should be used, if you post something on the internet you're pretty much giving your consent to whoever finds it to use it as they see fit. Is it right morally? Not really. But it is how it is.

Will Fitch said...

I suppose it is somewhat reasonable for a newspaper to publish this information, as it can illustrate the character of the candidate's son and by extension maybe even reveal something about the candidate himself. Perhaps the candidate is a bad father, or is known for being irresponsible, this news story could reveal something like that.

As far as the media using Facebook photos, I think they should at least have to get some sort of permission from whoever is in the picture. However, I'm sure there are numerous Terms and Agreements we've all clicked through during the sign-up that simply sign our rights away within the confines on Facebook, so I suppose that is more of a legal issue.

Casey J said...

Hm is the kid newsworthy? I would think he is newsworthy not just because his father is involved in politics but also the fact that he was on the payroll of his father's campaign. If anyone else on the campaign did something to shed negative light on the campaign then I would suspect they too would get a story in the paper. As far as the facebook pictures, that just plain sucks for him. Like they always say if you don't want people to see it don't put it out there.

Johnny Goedecke said...

Even though the kid's father is running for political office, he is not really newsworthy. Kids in this country drink all the time, despite the fact the law states that to drink you must be 21. We saw another spotlight on the family of a political figure when it was discovered that Sarah Palin's daughter, Bristol, was pregnant at the age of 17. Both of these incidents tend to cast negative stigmas on the important issue, which is if the politician will help lead this country in the right direction.
Although we feel Facebook photos should remain anonymous, we as a society don't realize how public Facebook truly has become. It is easy for someone to access the pictures or links you put up just by being the mutual friend of someone you are friends with on Facebook. Morally do I believe its right for the media to take advantage of Facebook as a resource, no, but we as a society have set ourselves up for it.

Christine Kostoroski said...

No I don't believe that it is newsworthy. A son's underage drinking should not be in any way involved with his father's running for governor. And not to mention there are thousands of kids around the world who are underage drinking and posting pictures of it up on facebook. Although, I'm not agreeing that it is okay to drink underage, but it is what kids do at that age! Therefore, the son shouldn't be the only one getting the finger pointed at him when a lot of kids do it.
In my opinion, I don't think it was right for the media to publish those images. I know if it is online and people can see it then they can do whatever they want with the picture. But that is someone's personal life and it should not be leaked out because of his father's running for governor.

Alison Curran said...

People post pictures on facebook all the time. They want everyone to see what they were doing that weekend and how great it was. Is that news? um no it's not. It is nothing new that people drink and party underage. but the news always feels that when it happens to someone in the "spotlight" they have to expose this person and the family that they come from.

the media isn't trying to say that this person did something wrong by drinking underage, they are saying that this is the son of someone who is running for governor and would you want someone who has a son like this representing you?

personally, i would be very upset with the media if they just took this picture and used it against me as a fault, like i was the only one in the whole country doing it. he is not the first person to come from a family with mean who drinks underage and he certainly won't be the last either.

Geo said...

FYI: The Associated Press has declined to follow up on any stories about the kid, yet. They say as of yet, he is not a public figure.

How about this question though: despite your thinking the kid isn't a story, what do you do if your editor or station manager tells you to do a story?

Can you decline? Or do you do the story?

- George
(the teacher who thinks you are a sucker if you post incriminating pictures on your facebook page)

Mark Longacre said...

If you post something online, you have to deal with the consequences. He needed to think about the fact that his father is a candidate and he needs to plan his actions accordingly.

Mark Longacre said...

If you post something online, you have to deal with the consequences. He needed to think about the fact that his father is a candidate and he needs to plan his actions accordingly.

Shannon H. said...

This story really gets me because it is happening to teenagers everyday. This doesn't just happen to kids who parents are famous or well-known collegiate athletes, but it is happening to teenagers and young adults like you and me who may not have a spot in the public image but have just as much to lose. I feel that stories like this are definitely newsworthy due to the fact that the same exact thing can happen to us. It may not result in us slandering our father's campaign, but we could easily lose a job, or put ourselves at risk of getting hired. Facebook, in a way, makes everyone a mini-celeb. It is easy to type in someone's name and get a whole lot of information on that person that he/she didn't know was available to the public including pictures.

What teenagers don't know is that once a picture is uploading to Facebook it BELONGS TO FACEBOOK!!! It doesn't belong to whoever took the picture or the account of where the picture was posted, it is PUBLIC PROPERTY from that point on out. We really need to think twice when doing something that we wouldn't want our parents knowing about because nowadays everyone is watching!

Sinead C said...

Personally, I don’t think it’s newsworthy. It is politics, however, which means that the entire campaign is going to be scrutinized. Finding inappropriate pictures of the candidate’s son, who also happens to be on the payroll, makes for a kind of scandal. Political scandals make for fast selling news so of course the story was going to get out. This is a type of story that a lot of American’s want to read about. It goes along with the up rise in celebrity gossip magazines. The issue of getting the pictures off of Facebook just makes the candidate’s son look naive. Getting in trouble because of pictures posted online is old news, once something is on the internet then it becomes public. It is a social networking site so he should know that many different types of people are going to be able to view his profile, including journalists. The son knew that his family was going to be in the public eye because of his father’s involvement in politics. Looking back at any recent elections, minor or major, there has been coverage of the political figures families. To me, this is just an unfortunate event for the man running for office. I do not necessarily think that it should be news but the way that media has been going recently scandal like this has become news. It goes along with the question of whether journalists should provide information that educates or information that people want. I think that a journalist certainly could decline to do the story, but it all has to do with the journalist’s principals.

Dana Dever said...

I really don't think it's newsworthy because what does the son's stupid choices have to do with the father's running for a political office? Absolutely nothing. Yes, the son should be punished for his actions and he shouldn't be give any special treatment like some well known celebrities have been when they've been caught underage drinking but should the media really be concerned with his wrong doing? I highly doubt he ever thought he was going to get caught or wanted it to become a public ordeal. I know if I was caught for underage drinking, even if I wasn't the son of a politician, I wouldn't want it to be out there in the public. And let's be honest, how many underage drinkers are really caught and have their face plastered all over the televison.

As for invading his facebook, it was a poor decision on his part to let the images be posted. He should've either untagged himself from them, never posted them in the first place or asked whoever posted them to take them down. It may seem like a dumb thing to ask someone to take down pictures of your party days but if your father is a public figure you might want to consider it. I think that the media wasn't exactly right for exposing the images to the public, but they were on a public social page which means that they were avaliable to at least his friends if not all of facebook.

Elizabeth Van Son said...

I don't think that the kid himself is important. However, the fact that he is on his father's campaign for state representative and caught drinking underage is huge. It shows that if the man can't look after his own son how can he represent his state? I think when you run to become governor or any other type of state position you need to keep your family in check and make sure that they aren't doing anything illegal or newsworthy unless it's something good like charity. It is acceptable because the son has published these public pictures on the internet and didn't think of the consequences. I personally don't think that the media should have but they have every right to. It's his own fault and I think he was irresponsible for drinking during his father's campaign. It's not that I don't feel bad for him but it's his fault that he's making irresponsible decisions.

Kelly Offner said...

I'm not sure I think that the son's underage drinking bust is actually newsworthy,(they are handed out by the dozen to underage high school and college students around the United States), but I think the added fact that he was making almost $630 regularly on his fathers payroll makes the story much more interesting (i.e. entertaining) to the public. Now we have a 20 yr. old son of a state rep. making a considerable amount of profit from both individual and coporate campaign donations on his father's behalf...not to mention, did anyone look up the other photos that CityPages released? I think that if the kid was unwise enough to allow those pictures of him to stay online, than the media has free-reign to do what they want with them.

jeanette vega said...

I don't think this is news worthy at all. First of all, this story's intent isn't to inform the public for the good of the public, but to humiliate this person and his father. I do believe that he should have taken extra steps to ensure that pictures like this are not posted of him because of his involvement in his fathers business, but this is just gossip to me.