Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Can the Hollywood Actor Be a Journalist?

The actor Sean Penn traveled to the jungle in Mexico to interview a Mexican drug lord named Joaquín Guzmán Loera, who had elaborately tunneled out of prison last summer. Mexican authorities have been hunting for the man better known as El Chapo ever since he escaped.

Penn's story appeared in Rolling Stone this week:

"I take no pride in keeping secrets that may be perceived as protecting criminals, nor do I have any gloating arrogance at posing for selfies with unknowing security men," Penn wrote. "But I'm in my rhythm. Everything I say to everyone must be true. As true as it is compartmentalized. The trust that El Chapo had extended to us was not to be fucked with. This will be the first interview El Chapo had ever granted outside an interrogation room, leaving me no precedent by which to measure the hazards."

The New York Times reported that Rolling Stone made a few concessions to El Chapo as an agreement to do the story:  

"In a disclosure that ran with the story, Rolling Stone said it had changed some names and withheld some locations. An understanding was reached with Mr. Guzmán, it said, that the story would be submitted for his approval, but he did not request any changes."

This whole situation raises numerous questions:

• Should a journalist do a story with an escaped convict? Or do they have an obligation to provide location and other information to law enforcement?

• Should journalists make deals to get stories? Should the magazine have allowed El Chapo the ability to approve the story (or not)? Does the deal undermine the magazine's credibility?

• Why send an actor to do the interview? Shouldn't the interview have been performed by a more seasoned journalist who would have dug deeper into the story of El Chapo?

What do you think?


The Mo-rocking Reaction said...

The story raises more questions than it answers. the first question is that how is it that it is easier for a journalist to get access to one of the most wanted men in the world? the second question is that how does El Chapo (if it is actually the real him) benefit from doing an interview with people outside his circle of operation? and the third one is that why is it that this story surfaced only after El Chapo was captured?
now in relation to the question of whether or not a journalist should do a story with an escaped convict. whether he should or should not is irrelevant because the real aspect that has to be looked at is what is the benefit of doing a story with an escaped convict. and personally if the story provides the best info and helps grow the audience of a certain source than I don't see why not.
now in relation to the Rollingstone 's credibility I really do not know how their credibility is defined in the first place. so a story like this one seems like good advertising.
why send an actor to do the interview? why not, the article is about 10,000 words plus it would make a really bad-ass movie.

Nadira Goffe said...

Concerning this entire interview, I've been more interested in the "Why Sean Penn?" aspect of the story. After reading around a bit, it seems that El Chapo's "people" are the ones who requested Penn rather than Penn being sent by RollingStone or any other group to interview El Chapo. Apparently, El Chapo was interested in his own story and how it would play out in entertainment particularly in Hollywood's wheelhouse. I also find it interesting that Penn believes his article "failed" because he didn't allow the conversation to discuss (rather in a more hard-hitting way) El Chapo's views on the War on Drugs and the politics and regulations surrounding it. But rather, Penn felt like it was this article that kept skirting around the main issue. If Pennw as a seasoned journalist, maybe that discussion would have been had with El Chapo? I don't necessarily know, but I do find it outrageously interesting.

Will said...

Can a Hollywood actor be a journalist? Of course they can. Can Sean Penn be a good journalist is the real question and I'm gonna confidently say he proved that he cannot in this interview.